Tips to learn your first Pull up!

A basic exercise but sometimes very hard for beginners: the pull up! One of our most favorite exercises in bodyweight training. You get a huge strong back, shoulders, biceps and forearms and it makes you feel like the hulk! In this post you will find the best tips for learning the pull up.
There are people who already have the basic strength to do a pull up straight away. Of course, everyone wants to pull up as often as possible and there are plenty of ways to train this. But in this post we want to give you tips and explain how to best learn your first pull up. For men and women!
Step 1: Dumbbell rows. The true basis of building back strength and a bigger back. The link to the video shows you how to perform this exercise correctly. Basically, we do not train with weights or in the gym, Bodyweight Training is training with only your own body weight. But to build the basic strength for a number of exercises, such as pulling up, it may be very useful to start using weights, dumbbells, in this case. Build your strength with dumbbell rows. If you do not have dumbbells at home, use a bag with heavy books in it, something else that has some weight, or even a chair. Of course buying dumbbells is easiest and the best. Once you can get to 15 dumbbell rows (10kg) you can consider going to the next level.

Source: Gym guider. Dumbbell rows
Step 2: Assisted pull ups.This seems to be very much like the pull up itself but you still have your feet on the ground. This exercise activates the same muscles as the pull up. Also, you can easily do the assisted pull up in many places, you do not need a high pull bar. If you have a solid dining table at home you could even practice on it!

A video as an example:


  • Tense your buttocks and abdominal muscles to keep your body straight.
  • Make sets of between 8 and 12 repetitions.
  • Is the exercise a bit too heavy? For example, try bending your knees and placing your feet straight on the ground.
  • Once you get 3 to 5 sets you can go to the next step!

Below is an example of a training routine that you can follow to build strength before you start the rest of your training:

  • Monday: 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions assisted pull ups
  • Wednesday: 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions assisted chin ups
  • Friday: 1-2 sets of 8-12 repetitions assisted pull ups and 1-2 sets of 8-12 repetitions assisted chin up

Repeat this training routine until you have confidence in the next step

Step 3: Use a resistance bandAs with our post on learning the muscle up, we recommend using a resistance band or a pull-up band to learn the technique and build power faster. Recently, these tires are a great success and it helps people to progress with body weight training faster than ever before. A great invention! It is different per person whether you prefer to use these pull up bands or to build the strength without the bands. Try it and find it out yourself.

Alternatives for using a pull up band:

  • If you work out with someone you can ask your training partner to hold your feet and assist you. This is a very good alternative and you are already doing the whole exercise. Also a good tip if you can already pull up 10 times in a row and want to do more repetitions! This ensures that you can do 2-3 extra pull ups.
  • Pull ups with a chair. Hang on the pull up bar and put one or two feet on the seat. You use your feet only as assistance, you are not doing squats;)

Step 4: Negative pull ups. In the video you will see the correct example of a negative pull up. The idea is that you forget the actual pull up and only slowly lower yourself. Execution: Jump up so that your head is above the bar. Hold the bar firmly and lower yourself as slowly as possible. Do this about 4 times in sets of 6-8 repetitions. This allows you to build a lot of strength in your upper back and arms to do the pull ups! (If you do not have a pull up bar at your disposal, you can also hang on a lower bar with your legs retracted and lower yourself slowly).

Below a set you can follow if you are at step 4 before you start your entire training:

  • Monday: Assisted pull ups - 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions
  • Wednesday: Assisted chin ups - 3-4 sets of 12-14 repetitions
  • Friday: Negative pull ups - 3 sets until you can not. Up to 10x per set.

Step 5: THE PULL UP! Yes, beasts. Time has come, you're going to hit your first pull ups! It is based on your basic strength, weight, age and how far you are in the steps because it may be that you can already get more than 1 pull up done! For many people it's easier to start with chin ups, because the biceps often have more power. Are you looking for a whole workout for your back or a whole 12 weeks body weight training schedule? Then follow the links!

Below an example of one of the single bodyweight back workouts:

Do you want access to all bodyweight workout plans? Just quickly and easily create an account and everything will be available for free!

Did you work hard on your first pull up and you made it? We are the first who want to know! Tell us in the comments below! GOOD LUCK!


  Lennert Fransen         Comments (1)

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