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A Beginners Guide to Pullups

Advanced Pullups

Every beginning is hard, especially when it comes to pullups. Lifting one's entire bodyweight is a challenge for even the most trained athletes. But as long as you’ve got a solid starting point, consistent training and by following our beginners guide, achieving a pullup is definitely possible. Here’s everything you need to know:

Why are pullups so damn difficult?

The answer to this comes down to three main factors. First: gravity. This pulls everything towards the earth’s center, including you. By performing a pullup, you are therefore resisting this force and that’s why it’s extremely hard. Second: distance. For pullups this refers to the length of our arms. The longer the way to cover, the more energy we have to invest. The last aspect to be considered is mass. More mass to pull equals greater effort. There is also, arguably, gender, which can be a reason some find pullups more difficult than others. Men naturally possess more upper body muscle mass and therefore potential for strength. That does not mean that they are unattainable for women. We just have to set the standards right. Due to the fact that from a evolutionary standpoint women are not as strong in push and pull movement patterns, achieving one pullup is an amazing display of strength. You just need to know how and what to practice. #KnowYourEnemy

Safety first

Stay safe and equip yourself with a professional pullup bar. These are available with or without screws, and can be installed in most door frames. In order to avoid injuries you might want to avoid DIY, self-made constructions as these aren’t always the safest option and could lead to a nasty injury if you end up falling with an iron bar landing on top of you.

Activate the right muscles in Pullups

Activate the right muscles

Depending on your general fitness level and the current number of pullups you can do, there are several ways to improve. Apart from your arms, the strength of a further two muscle groups will have a great impact on your performance: your wide back muscle, the latissimus dorsi (often referred to as your “lats”) and the trapezius muscle, which carries and moves your shoulders. A strong and trained core also plays a crucial - and often underestimated - role. By training and strengthening these muscles, you’re already one step closer to mastering the pullup.

Getting started: the perfect pullup

The simple and plain strict pullup is performed as follows:

  1. Grip the bar with both hands, shoulder width apart, and your palms facing away from you.
  2. Hang with arms and elbows fully locked out.
  3. Pull yourself up, chin over the bar.
  4. Keep your back tight, relax your neck and bring your shoulders away from the ears. Engage your core throughout.
  5. Lower yourself slowly and controlled until your arms are fully extended and straight again.

Starting from scratch: preparation for newbies

Pullups offer a lot of advantages, it’s worth giving them a try. In the following table you will find suggestions for a week of training that will spark your pullup flame and keep you motivated throughout:

ExerciseMain Muscles ActivatedFunction
Passive hang- Back and arms
- Grip strength
- Good warmup and preparation for full pullup
- Injury prevention thanks to improving shoulder flexibility with passive hang
Shoulder pullups- Shoulders- Additional warmup
- Mobilizes shoulders
Negative pullups- Core
- Back
- Biceps
- Gentle, consistent training (eccentric lane)

Getting into the mood: pullup tips for intermediates

Do you dream of being able to do more than 10 pullups? Then here’s how. After a nice warmup, give the following suggestions a go:

ExerciseMain Muscles ActivatedFunction
Pullups with 50% of the amount of your maximum number of repetitions- Wide back
- Biceps
- Trapezius
- Sustainable training method to build up on
- Focus on technique
- Improves efficiency
Pullups- Wide back
- Biceps
- Trapezius
- Improve posture in the long-term
- Increase grip strength and core power