How to Do a Proper Pull Up, and Why You Need to Do Them

So you want to do a pull up, eh?
wrk_pullups

When many people think of fitness and the gym, they picture meatheads doing countless arm curls, staring at themselves in the mirror.

Sounds about right to me, and that makes me sad.

What’s truly unfortunate is that I hvery rarely see people in my gym doing deadlifts or proper squats, and I’ve probably only seen a handful of people (in a year and a half) doing legitimate pull ups.

As far as I’m concerned, if you’re not doing deadlifts, squats (going all the way down to parallel!), and pull ups and you want to “build muscle,” you’re leaving behind a TON of progress and gains.

We want to avoid that.

And you’re reading this article, which means you want to avoid that too! I knew you were smart.

If you’re afraid of making a mistake when it comes to doing pull-ups incorrectly, or you can’t quite do one yet but want to learn how, we’ve created a resource for ya: Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know – this guide will help you scale pull-ups til you can do them, get started in a gym, and how to train at home if you don’t have a gym!

You can download our massive strength training guide for free when you sign up in the box below:

Appearance is a consequence of fitness

When preparing for their roles in the movie 300, all the actors from the film went to train with Mark Twight.

who had them train by emphasizing “athleticism by combining compound movements, lifting, and throwing. Primitive tools – medicine balls, Kettlebells, rings – were used instead of machines. Each session was competitive, with a penalty-reward system tied to performance and results posted daily for all to see.”

That’s right, these guys weren’t training to have bulging biceps and chiseled abs.

Their motto, “appearance is a consequence of fitness,” meant that these guys worked on getting in the best shape possible – doing deadlifts, running sprints, Olympic ring push ups, doing pull-ups like clockwork, and then doing it all over again.

This type of training really struck a chord with me, because I’ve always been fascinated with turning myself into an absolute machine; if I happen to look good as a side effect, awesome.

There’s a reason you need to do 50 pull ups to complete the 300 challenge: only the fitness elite can attempt such a thing.

Proper PulL-Ups

Personally, I believe pull ups are one of the most important exercises in a routine and I recommend them to anybody that comes to me for advice.

Forget bicep curls; show me a guy who can do 25 pull ups and 25 chin ups and there’s no WAY his arms aren’t well-developed.

I’ve written an updated article on “how to do a pull up” that is a must read, but this article will get you started!

Find a bar that will support your weight, anywhere. I don’t care. Just find one.

If you have a gym membership there will be pull up bars all over the place.  At your house you might have “the perfect pull up” in your door way.  If you have neither of these things, find a local playground and use their monkey bars.  This is one piece of equipment that NEEDS to be in your arsenal, so find a way to get one.  No excuses, play like a champion.

  • A PULL UP is when your hands are facing away from you.  This will work your back and biceps.
  • A CHIN UP is when your hands are facing towards you.  Although this also works your back, it has more emphasis on your biceps.

Grab a bar with a grip slightly wider than shoulder width, with your hands facing away from you. Hang all the way down.  Pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar.  Slight pause  Lower yourself all the way back down. Go up, and really concentrate on isolating your back and biceps. Don’t swing!

Although we’ve written a pretty You can watch our quick 5 minute video on pull-ups here, which also covers how to scale them when you can’t quite do one yet:

Once you can do a single pull up, work on doing them in sets.

  • Do one pull up, then wait a minute or two and do another one.
  • Then wait a few more minutes and do another one.

A few days later, try to do two in a row, and do a few sets of two.

You need to start somewhere, but as soon as you can do one, you can find a way to do two.  After that, find a way to do three, and so on.  Remember, don’t cheat yourself by only going halfway down and not going all the way up.  Straighten your arms out at the bottom, and get your chin over the bar!

Want big biceps? Do close-grip chin ups. I guarantee if you’re banging out 3 sets of 12 at the gym, maybe even hanging some weight around your waist, your arms will be built like cannons and you might need to have them legally declared.

If you’re interested in doing more pull-ups (or getting your first!), and you are looking for some free routines to follow, check out our free resource, Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know:

Remember, appearance is a consequence of fitness. 

Pull ups are a true test to somebody’s level of fitness, so where do you fit in?

Happy Friday!

-Steve

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