How to learn how to PULL UP?

Few years ago I fell in love with climbing. In order to become stronger with my pulling moves everybody suggested me to do pull ups (which is quite obvious). But in reality – I was nearly 30, a girl and I couldn’t do a single pull up.

So what did I do (except of buying and installing a pull up bar at my home)?

I was doing only 2 exercises and after less then 2 months I was able to do my first pull up.

  1. Negative pull ups (or jumping pull ups)
  2. Leg asissted pull ups

First of all – negative pull ups. You need a bar which you can reach without leaving the ground. Grip the bar, jump and lock at the highest position. Tense your muscles and lower yourself as slowly as possible. If this is easy for you (or after some training sessions) try to lock for 3 seconds at the highest position, then lower yourself to 90 degrees and lock for 3 seconds – then lower yourself and lock just before straightening your arms. Pay attention to the bottom section of this exercise. Don’t relax your muscles until your arms are straight/you give yourself support with your leg touching the ground. Start from 3 series of 3 reps and add one rep on every session till you get 10 (I was also doing one rep every time I was going under my pull up bar.)

Secondly – leg assisted pull ups. This one may sound a bit odd, but for me and my friends it was far more better then using resistance bands. Bands can offer some offload, but they also put pressure to your feet and change the trajectory of your body. Instead of using bands I suggest to use your leg as a support. For this exercise you need a chair or a box, which will allow you to get your head over the bar when you stand on it. Catch the bar with overhand or “pronated” grip. Put your head over the bar with your body straight under the bar (feet in line with head). Pick up one leg and lower yourself using the second leg, then try to pull up – use the support of the leg. Try to use the leg as less as possible. This means you should be able to get your head over the bar, but don’t just squat. Try to use your back and arms – leg should just help. If you can’t pull up, and you’re not tired after 5 leg assisted pull ups  then you’re doing it wrong. Change the supportive leg every 3 repetitions. Start from 3 series of 3 reps and add one rep on every session till you get 10.

Remember about the grip:

  • shoulders wide (or a little bit wider)
  • palms facing downwards


There are many exercises which you can add to support training, one of them are ring rows. But if you really want to be well prepared start with scapula retraction exercises and (later) scapular pull ups (I’ll write another post about them). They will help you with gaining the proper technique.


Ok, so 6 years ago I wasn’t able to do a single pull up. Now I can do more than 20 pull ups in a row and I easily do pull ups with added weight. Here is a little sample of me doing weighted pull ups.

So even if you can’t do a single pull up – don’t worry, be dedicated and consequent and you can achieve it sooner than you think.

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