By Joe Black
With the pull-up challenge in full-swing at our fitness gym, this two-part series will break down the movement, provide recommended dos and don’ts, exercises to strengthen parts of your pull-up, and an example plan that you can put into action to get your first pull-up. Part two will review different exercises and drills that our fitness instructors have vetted to build your pull-up strength and an example of a plan that you can use to get started today! 
In the last blog post, we reviewed the four different segments of the pull-up. As a refresher these are:

  • Bottom Position
  • Pulling To The Bar
  • Chin Over The Bar
  • Lowering to Bottom Position

By identifying where you struggle with the pull-up, you can start to formulate a plan of attack to get your first pull-up (and many more!).
Use These Movements to Strengthen Segments of Your Pull-up
There are a whole slew of exercises and drills that you can use to improve your pulling strength. Below are exercises that you can choose from based on your area of need. (As personal fitness trainers, we’ve seen them all work.) Click the links for video demonstrations.
Bottom Position

Pulling To The Bar

Chin Over The Bar

Lowering To Bottom Position

Lucky for you, CFP already incorporates a plethora of other movements which can help aid you in increasing your pull-up strength. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Planks
  • Hollow Holds
  • Farmer’s Carries
  • Deadlifts (for grip strength)
  • Core work

Formulate a Plan, Commit, and Follow It Through
Getting your first pull-up is simple, but not easy. If you are willing to set aside 15 minutes, 3 days/week you will be well on your way to your first pull-up! It will require a plan, your commitment, patience, and the ability to follow that plan through to the end.
A typical plan might look like this:

  • Choose 2-3 exercises from the list above.
  • Plan for 3 days/week, for 4 weeks.
  • Gradually increase sets, reps and time for 3 weeks, back off to numbers lower than your first week on week 4.
  • Repeat using the same exercises after 4 weeks or use different exercises for another 4-week cycle, following the same guidelines.

Here is an example of what Week 1 might look like:

*ME = max effort (in other words, as long as you can)
In the example plan above, here is how you would progress this over the next 3 weeks:

  • Week 2: increase sets to 3, increase weight by 5-10#, increase time by 1-3 seconds
  • Week 3: increase sets to 4, increase weight by 5-10#, increase time by 1-3 seconds
  • Week 4: drop all sets to 1, decrease weight by 10#, decrease time by 2-6 seconds

With Murph coming up this weekend, it might make sense to start this the following Monday (to give yourself time to rest from all those pull-ups).
Good luck, get after it at home and at our fitness gym, and let me know if you have any questions!