For a really long time I’ve wanted to be able to do a pull-up for no particular reason other than I wanted to feel strong in the ability to lift my body weight.
I never tackled doing a pull-up seriously until last summer. Prior to that I had done assisted pull-ups with a band or on the assisted pull-up machine, hoping that with repetition I’d get to the point where I’d be able to do it without assistance, but that was never the case.
At the time I was a member at a small gym where hardly anyone used the weight room, where there was a pull up bar suspended between to weight towers.
Well, I thought. No one is looking so I might as well just try.
I jumped up to grab the bar and pulled myself up as high as I could go. I moved my body maybe three inches. Not much, but it was something! I kept at those little shrugs for a while and at the same time added complementary exercises like seated rows and overhead press.
One of the first things I noticed as I started to do pull ups was that my abs were so sore! Some mornings I’d have to skip the pull-ups entirely and just do the complimentary movements because my sore abs were to weakened to be able to attempt my pull-up progression.
With some tips from Kim Nedeau, running coach and USA Mountain Runner, I was able to progress even further by doing negative pull-ups at the gym. I’d test my strength at the playground where I found I could do a pull-up from the bent arm position.
Slowly I gained strength and late last summer I was able to finally get my first un-assisted pull-up!
Here’s the progression I used and a helpful video Kim put together that I know will have you well on your way to getting your first pull-up!
With straight arms grab the bar overhead and pull yourself up until there is a bend in your elbows. Lower back down in a controlled manner and repeat.
I found that jumping up to the bar gave me a bit of momentum that I could carry through to perform a bent arm pull-up. It wasn’t from straight arms but it was enough to give me a littl eocn
Most monkey bars or rings at a playground are easily reachable and don’t require jumping up. I found that playing around on the bars there helped me gain strength. Plus when you have kids and you spend at least one day a week at a playground in the summer it’s a great way to sneak in extra practice!
Negative Pull Ups
Negative Pull-Ups (slowly lowering yourself down from the bar in a controlled manner) are more effective than using a band to assist you upwards. This by far was the final piece of the puzzle that allowed me to get my first pull-up.
Kim explains it (and demonstrates) far better than I could. She’s a pro!
Can you do a pull-up? Or is it a goal you’ve always had?
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