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How to do a Pull-Up. A beginner’s guide.

Woman performing pull up
"You guys go on ahead. I'll catch up with you later."

The Pull-Up

You’ve decided that you want to crush your first one, or perhaps you can get one or two and want to be able to get loads of them. 

Pull-ups are a relatively simple move and idea. Grab the bar and pull yourself up to it. However, as anyone who has attempted their first one can tell you, it’s far harder and more complex than that.

I’m here to give you some starting ideas and methods to get the ball rolling. 

To get the ball rolling. Try one.

Grab a bar and do your best to pull yourself up as hard as possible.


Keep trying for 5 seconds. 

This may sound weird and pointless. But the idea here is just getting your brain and body connected.

Get the muscles that are needed for a pull-up working. Get your brain and body connected and working together to determine how to make this happen.

This neurological connection is often overlooked. However, it’s one of the most important aspects of training. 

The “Full Pull-Up”

The next stage is to make sure we’re training each stage of the pull-up. This includes how to start a pull-up, the pulling part of the pull-up, the lowering, and finally, actually holding yourself from a bar.

Stage 1: Scaption Pull-Ups.

Grab the bar, and then pull your armpits down toward the ground without bending your arms.

Although controversial in the world of training, these have a purpose. They stop clients from rolling their shoulders forward at the start of the pull-up, a surefire way of hurting your shoulders.

Start by doing 2 – 3 sets of 5 – 8 reps in your warm-ups.

Stage 2: Banded Pull-ups.

Pretty simple, and I believe everyone who’s even thought about pull-ups has seen these. 

Tie the band around the bar, and slide your knee or foot into the band (either is fine, whatever feels more comfortable and is easier for you). Once you’ve done this, start repping out some pull-ups. You want to choose a band that makes it hard to pull yourself up but not impossible. 

Start by including these as an exercise in your program. 3 – 4 sets of 6 reps with 2-minute rests. 

Stage 3: Jump and lower.

A pretty simple exercise, but one that I think everyone hates in some way, shape, or form.

  • Grab the bar

  • Jump up, so you’re above the bar.

  • Lower yourself until your arms are straight,


This way of performing the rep will FRY your muscles and nervous system. You may even feel sore the next day.

However, it is a tried and tested method of strengthening the muscles and your body for pull-ups. 

Start by including these as an exercise in your program. 3 – 4 sets of 3 – 5 reps with 2-minute rests. 

Stage 4: Hang.

Simple, but an overlooked aspect.

To do pull-ups, you must physically hold yourself and your body weight on the bar.

If you want to do 5 pull-ups, that will take XX amount of time.

Can you hold yourself from that bar for that amount of time? If not, you won’t be able to do your pull-ups.

Start by hanging on the bar for as long as possible. Start with 2 – 3 sets of max hang time with 2-minute rests.

Wrapping up

Incorporating these into your workouts will get you on the path to becoming a kick-ass pull-upper (that is a word from now on).

At Precision Fitness, we build these exercises into programs that include different combinations of these and some accessory work (like Dumbbell bicep curls, etc.).

But to get started, sticking to these exercises will be the key to success. You won’t complete your pull-up journey if you’re not doing these exercises. 

Need More Direction? Here’s a Free Workout.

Here’s a workout we’ve used at Precision Fitness many times to help kick-start our clients’ pull-up journey.

For those who are just starting your pull-up journey, try the following cycle 2 – 3 times.

If you’ve been working on pull-ups for a while, cycle 3 – 5 times. 

A1: Scaption Pull ups. 1 X 3 – 5
Rest 2 minutes

A2: Try one 1 X 2 attempts
Rest 2 minutes
A3: Jumping Pull-Ups 1 X 3 – 5
Rest 2 minutes
A4: Banded Pull-Ups 1 X 3 – 5
Rest 2 minutes
A5: Dead Hang 1 X Max time
Rest 2 minutes

Enjoy the start of your pull-up journey!

– Coach Dan