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How to Get Your First Pull-up or Get Better at Pull-ups



I have lost count of the number of my athletes that were not even close to doing one pull up be able to do multiple after six to twelve months of doing the program described below. Yes, sorry, it will take AT LEAST six months to go from no chance of doing one pull up to doing one if you follow the program below. Nothing challenging or worth doing comes easy or fast! SORRY! Watch the videos in my You Tube play list first by clicking on the link below:


https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLbR0ENFKGqhoF8UkGA8ct6reszCDRbW4U Week 1

Workout A: Day 1

2×10 Shoulder Circuits

2×10 Band Pull Aparts

2×10 Wall Slides

3×10 Push-ups

3x1 min Planks

3×10 Bent Over Barbell / Dumbbell Row

3×10 Bicep Curl

Workout B: Day 2

2×10 Shoulder Circuits

2×10 Band Pull Aparts

2×10 Wall Slides

2 – 3 x Dead hang from bar with negative eccentric up to 30 seconds (see explanation and scaling below). Once you can dead hang consistently for 30 seconds and still cannot do a strict pullup start adding weight (again see below).

Workout C: Day 3

2×10 Shoulder Circuits

2×10 Band Pull Aparts

2×10 Wall Slides

3×10 Push-ups

5 x 15 – 20 seconds of work Hollow Rock with 10 seconds of rest between sets

3×10 Bent Over Barbell / Dumbbell Row

3×10 Hanging Knee Raise

3×10 Bicep Curl

Repeat workouts A, B, and C for two weeks, adding 1-2 additional sets for each exercise in week two. Make sure to take a rest day between each workout, too. And no need to power through each set either — We suggests about one to one and a half minutes of rest between sets.

Use the different ways to grip the bar so that you are using the same muscles differently. Try pronated (palms facing away), supinated (palms facing toward the body), neutral/narrow (palms facing each other), or a wide grip to mix things up. Proper form is key to staying safe — no surprises there. So keep in mind that swinging the body or not using the correct posture can potentially lead to injury.


Shoulder Circuit Movements

Step 1 Starting Position: Lie on your stomach on a mat, with your arms outstretched overhead palms facing one another and your legs outstretched behind you with your toes pointed toward the wall behind you. Engage your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine. Pull your shoulders blades back and down. Align your head with your upper spine. Keep these engagements throughout the exercise.

Step 2

"I" Formation: Gently exhale and slowly lift your arms off the floor, with palms facing inward. Keep your head aligned with your upper spine. Focus on lifting from the shoulders and not the low back. Hold this position for 5 - 10 seconds then relax and return to your starting position. Perform 2 - 4 repetitions.


Step 3

"Y" Formation: From the same starting position, gently exhale and slowly lift your arms off the floor, moving your arms into the "Y" formation as illustrated with palms facing inward. Keep your head aligned with your upper spine. Focus on lifting from the shoulders and not the low back. Hold this position for 5 - 10 seconds then relax and return to your starting position. Perform 2 - 4 repetitions.


Step 4

"T" Formation: From the same starting position, gently exhale and slowly lift your arms off the floor, moving your arms into the "T" formation as illustrated with palms facing forward. Keep your head aligned with your upper spine. Focus on lifting from the shoulders and not the low back. Hold this position for 5 - 10 seconds then relax and return to your starting position. Perform 2 - 4 repetitions.



Step 5

"W" Formation: From the same starting position, gently exhale and slowly lift your arms off the floor. Bend your elbows and pull them toward your waist, forming the letter "W" as illustrated Palms face inward. Keep your head aligned with your upper spine. Focus on lifting from the shoulders and not the low back. Hold this position for 5 - 10 seconds then relax and return to your starting position. Perform 2 - 4 repetitions.



Step 6

"O" Formation: Start with your arms down by your sides. Gently exhale. Lift your arms off of the floor. Rotate your arms inward in order to bring your hands together on your back. Stack your hands in the small of your back so that your arms create an "O" shape. Keep your head aligned with your upper spine. Focus on lifting from the shoulders and not the low back. Hold this position for 5 - 10 seconds then relax and return to your starting position. Perform 2 - 4 repetitions.


Step 7

Lie down with the upper part of your back on a roller or ball and move your arms from the “T” to the “Y” and the “I” shapes as discussed above.

Band Pull Apart

  1. Begin with your arms extended straight out in front of you, holding the band with both hands.

  2. Initiate the movement by performing a reverse fly motion (i.e., "T"), moving your hands out laterally to your sides.

  3. Keep your elbows extended as you perform the movement, bringing the band to your chest. Ensure that you keep your shoulders back during the exercise.

  4. Pause as you complete the movement, returning to the starting position under control.






Wall Slides

Stand with your back to the wall and move your arms against the wall from the “I” to the “W” position.



Hollow Rock

Start laying down flat on the ground with your arms in the “Y” position over your head and feet together. Raise your shoulders and legs off the ground so that the only point of contact with the ground is your butt or tail bone (use a mat under your butt if this hurts). Your body should resemble the shape of a banana or bottom of a boat. Point your toes away from you and pull your abs into your lower back. Pinch your shoulders into your ears and maintain a rocking motion back and forth lifting your shoulders and legs alternatively while not touching the ground with them. If this is too difficult to hold for very long at first you can bring your arms to your sides and / or bend your knees, however, always start each set in the hollow rock position.




1.) Start from the hang.

Keep your wrists slightly flexed and over the bar, with the thumbs wrapped all the way around. That will improve your grip and pulling strength.

Hang with your feet slightly out in front of your body, careful to maintain activated abs and a solid hollow body position. This might be hard enough on its own at the start, which is fine. Just practice. Once you can hold position for 30-seconds you’re ready to move on.

Initiate the pull-up from the very bottom, at full shoulder flexion, by drawing your shoulder blades down and back. From there you can finish the movement by pulling your chin to the bar.

Don’t curl your legs or hyperextend at any point during the pull. This compromise in mechanics will make continual progress pretty much impossible.


2.) What if I can’t finish?

Here’s a simple drill you can practice.

Put a barbell in the squat rack, right at the level of your collarbone. Walk up to that bar and get into final position. Keep the very same pull-up grip. The bar should be right up next to your clavicle, with your chin just over top. Your neck should remain neutral.

All you have to do is lift your feet and keep all the same positions. Just like with the hang, practice by holding this position in 30 second bursts. In no time at all your pull-up will start to improve.

3.) How should I scale?

You can work your way up to strict pull-ups a bunch of different ways. Banded pull-ups and ring rows are common examples. These are fine exercises, but the truth is that there’s very little carryover to the strict pull-up. In my 10 years of coaching and 40 years working out I have never seen anyone who regularly uses bands to do their pull ups be able to do even a single strict pull up. However, I have seen many people injure themselves using bands to pretend to do pull-ups. I do believe in the use of bands to help you do negative pull-ups to build strength as described below.

For better performance, you should actually make a few modifications:

· Work the rings, but place your feet up on a box and let your hips sink as low as possible. This more vertical line of pull will have more correspondence to the pull-up.

· As you get stronger, try standing on a box that’s just slightly behind the pull-up bar. Start your pull, keeping the top of your feet on the box and pushing with the legs for assistance when needed.

4.) Try going slow doing negatives.

This is one of the best ways to increase your pull-up strength.

Start from the top from your box. Keep your chin above the bar for 2-3 seconds, then lower your body under control, all the way down to full flexion, over about 5-10 seconds. Hold the bottom for 2-3 more seconds and you’re done.

Something like 2-3 sets of this is more than enough. But feel to increase the volume as long as you do not lose position on the descent.

5.) The best ways to add weight.

With time and proper progression you will master the pull-up. And yes, sooner or later you will need to add some weight to make things harder.

The easiest thing you can do is hold a medicine ball between your legs, keeping all your key grip and body positions in mind. You can also hold a dumbbell kettlebell between your feet, both techniques work well. As you get really strong during this movement, the best thing you can do is get yourself a weighted pull-up belt.


6.) Movement Video Examples and the Best Pull-Up Tip Videos

I have created a You Tube playlist with instructional videos for this program as well as the best videos from other coaches on how to develop your pullups. The playlist is located at the following link:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLbR0ENFKGqhoF8UkGA8ct6reszCDRbW4U


Remember that anything that is worth doing in the long term TAKES TIME! DON'T GIVE UP! HAVE PATIENCE, AND TRAIN THIS PROGRAM CONSISTENTLY AND YOU WILL GET PULL-UPS!

Contact me if you have any questions or need anything else at email: cyril@beboldexcelfitness.com or (734) 725-2119.


www.beboldexcelfitness.com

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