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How To Achieve Your First Body Weight Pull Up

Here is our program to help you on your way to your first body weight pull up. This is the suggested order you should apply these exercises in, as well as the reps and sets we would use to build up the strength you need in the right areas. We suggest that you throw these in at the end of your work outs, as often as you like.

Inverted rows:  These are a great place to start as they’re one of the easiest exercises you

Canterbruy Strength Weight Lifting Club Pull up blog post

can apply to pull ups. In this exercise more of your weight is distributed through your lower body, so your legs are able to help you to complete the movement. We suggest starting out with 3-4 sets of 5 reps.  If you find it hard to pull yourself to the bar, rings or TRX with your legs straight you can start with bent knees, the closer your feet are to your body the easier it will be. Alternatively you can raise the rings/TRX or bar higher allowing for more of your weight to be on your legs. To increase the difficulty of inverted rows you can elevate your feet by placing them on a plyo box/bench/step.

Static Hold: 

Canterbruy Strength Weight Lifting Club Pull up blog post

Aim to be able to hold this position for 30-45 seconds. To start with, if you can’t hold it for this amount of time in one go, you can break it up – for example 4 sets of 15 seconds.  Once you can maintain a static hold for 30 seconds plus you are probably ready to move on to some of these next exercises.


Canterbruy Strength Weight Lifting Club Pull up blog post

These tend to produce a lot of muscle ache! Especially in the biceps – as it is a demanding eccentric exercise. Start out with 4 sets of 1-2 reps build on this over time until you can do 4 sets of 5. You can carry out negative chin ups or pull ups as both will help here. Negatives are excellent help for getting a feel for exercises performed from a hanging position.  To start with you will probably find that you drop quite quickly on the way down, but over time you can work to decrease this speed. Once you build strength in the right places you will find that you can lower yourself slower and slower. If you’ve managed to get your descent really slow you can start working on the strength for pulling yourself up to the bar (concentric movement) – start with band pull ups

Canterbruy Strength Weight Lifting Club Pull up blog post

Band pull ups:  Using a resistance band to reach a full pull up is the best starting point for achieving the full range of motion for the exercise. Here you will work on increasing your strength to pull yourself up to the bar.  Starting with a higher resistance band so that more of your body weight is supported, and then move on to bands with less resistance, working at 3-4 sets of 5 reps. Once you are comfortable using a lower resistance band you might as well try out some body weight pull ups or if you aren’t quite there yet, half rep pull ups.

Half Reps:

Canterbruy Strength Weight Lifting Club Pull up blog post

Half reps will help you to increase your strength in the ascent or concentric part of the pull up. Unlike with the resistance band you will be working with your full body weight when you pull towards the bar. Although you are not performing the full range of motion required for a pull up this will still massively help you to increase your strength and feel more confident with what is involved with the full movement. Again, work toward 3-4 sets of 5 reps. 

Hopefully once you get to grips with these progression exercises you will be ready to move on to full body weight pull ups. Why not stand on a box under a high pull up bar and use it to slightly support your weight before you to complete the rep. You can master this before performing pull ups from a complete dead hang from the bar. 

Let us know how you get on! How many reps did you achieved?

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you want any extra advice!


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