I never thought I would be able to do any pull-ups on my own…ever. I always admired seeing guys in the gym performing them so effortless. It looks like they weigh no more than a feather! I was even MORE shocked when I saw women doing them! A female doing pull-ups is like a guy going shopping. You rarely see it happen.
The only reason I was able to start doing pull-ups is because my husband told me to try one. He said “go for it”. You never know if you can do one if you don’t try. So what did I do? I probably pouted for a minute and said those unattractive words “I can’t” in front of him. And then I put my big girl panties on and jumped up to the pull-up bar. I tried my hardest and slowly but surely I got my chin up there!! Whaaaaat?!? I can do a pull-up? I was shocked. I had let my mind take over and tell me I could never do on. But my body was actually more prepared than I expected.
So I challenge you: Try a pull-up today. Just one. Test yourself. Maybe you can, maybe you can’t. Regardless, I am going to share my guide to conquering pull-ups below from beginner phase to advanced.
Remember, you have to be patient. Pull-ups are not easy. So preparation and practice is important in being successful.
The more you weigh, the more you have to pull-up, so losing weight will help you get closer to achieving your goal.
When it comes to conquering and perfecting the pull-up, there are some tips on form, types, and variations you should know if you’re going to start calling yourself the Pull-up Queen. Read these first, then continue on to see my three training phases of conquering the pull-up.
Make sure you get your chin to clear the bar (don’t short yourself)
Squeeze your shoulder blades down and back (avoid shrugging the shoulders to your ears)
Focus on using your back muscles (not your arms/biceps)
Don’t swing or use momentum to attain the pull up like cross-fitters do (slow and controlled is better)
B) Pull ups vs. Chin ups
The difference is: Chin-ups have palms facing you whereas Pull-ups have palms facing away from you
A Mixed grip involves one palm facing you and one palm facing away (as if chin-ups and pull-ups had a baby)
C) Variations in GripA narrow grip about shoulder width apart is going to strengthen the muscles near the center of your back
A wider grip is going to strengthen the muscles more on the sides of your back. So your Lats will have a wider look in order to give you more of a V tapered shape in the back.
PHASE ONE | BEGINNER
In this stage, we will work on building up your back muscles. This could take one month or a few months. Regardless, start strengthening your back 3 days per week at the gym. Remember to use heavy weight without compromising form though.
Choose 7 Exercises for each back workout:
PHASE TWO | INTERMEDIATE
Once you have completed a month of phase one, test out doing one pull-up again. If you are unable, continue to build up strength and remain in phase one; then test again after month two.
If you are able to do one- CONGRATS! You are on your way to becoming a pull-up queen. Once you can do one, the next few come easier. Continue onto phase two below.
Tack these pull-up exercises onto the beginning of you phase one back workouts 3 days per week. These are all pull-up specific and will be easier to do at the beginning before you’re too fatigued. Here are the reps to use for the 3 pull-up practices per week:
day 1 | perform 4 sets of AMRAP (as many reps as possible)
day 2 | perform 6 sets of 4-6 reps
day 3 | perform 8 sets of 1-3 reps
Exercises (by week):
PHASE THREE | ADVANCED
Throughout the intermediate phase two, you should be increasing your rep ability. In order to move onto phase three, you should be able to perform 10 pull-ups in one set. So stick to phases 1-2 as long as needed and test yourself every few weeks. Once you can do ten… you are ready to move on up girl!! Phase three, meet your new best friend.
In phase three, we will begin to make pull-ups a little more “fun”. Continue to practice phase one 3x/week, incorporate phase two pull-up practice at the beginning of those still, and tack on the exercises below 3x/week.
Exercises (by week):
Aren’t Pull-Ups fun? I hope you have learned more about pull-ups from this article. More importantly, I hope you join the challenge and follow phases 1-3 til the very end. Not only will you look stronger but you’ll also feel more powerful…trust me.
Along your journey of conquering pull-ups, share pictures and videos on your social media and tag me!
[[ CURRENT CHALLENGE runs from June-August 2017. Whoever makes the most progress in # pull-ups and is the most active on social media WINS my 12 week Ebook! “Leave a Comment” below to join. Tell me how many pull-ups you can currently do as of June 2017. ]]
Stephanie Dorworth is the Founder of Beautiful to the Core. She is a Doctor of physical therapy, Pilates instructor, Internationally published fitness model, and Freelance health & fitness writer. She is passionate about empowering other women to lift heavy, practice flexible dieting, and love their bodies.