Pull Ups

Your Complete Guide to Pull Ups

How many pull us can you do? When thinking of a basic measure of strength and fitness, it doesn’t get better than the pull up. Not only is being able to handle your own bodyweight satisfying, but pull ups are incredibly effective at building a lean and muscular upper body. No matter what your fitness level is, we have pull up exercises and workouts that can help you.

Beginners should continue reading. More experience readers can jump straight to the basicintermediate or advanced pull ups.

Working Towards Your First Pull Up With Modified Pull Ups

The great benefits of pull ups come with a price. They require so much strength that even doing one is difficult. That does not have to stop you from starting a workout routine featuring pull ups. There are several exercises you can do that will help you build the muscle needed to do full bodyweight pull ups.

Negatives: Using something to boost yourself, get to the “up” position of the pull up. Step off your support and hang with your arms flexed for as long as you can. Lower yourself down as slowly as you can.

Chair Assisted: Place a chair or similar object about a foot in front of your pull up bar. As you pull, push-off on the chair with one or both of your feet to aid you up. Perform a negative as you lower yourself down with your feet off the chair.

Partner Assisted: Have a friend give you a slight boost to get you to the top of the pull up. You can push with your feet against  your partners hands, like with the chair assisted pull ups, or your friend can stand behind you push up on your back.

Body Rows (aka Aussie or inverted pull ups): Find something you can hang from that is roughly waist-high. Straighten your body and extend it down in front of you with your feet touching the ground. Pull up and try to get your chest to the same level as your hands.

Don’t get fixated on just doing a pull up regiment and ignore the rest of your body. Follow a normal full body workout routine. Modify your pull ups as needed using the technique above.  With the all around strength gains from the rest of your exercise program, you will quickly find yourself knocking out the rest of the pull ups on this page.

Basic Grip Variations

Don’t let the term “basic” fool you. These pull ups are still very challenging, they just follow the more traditional hand placements.

Standard: Hang from the bar with your arms shoulder width apart and palms facing to the front. As you pull up, keep the rest of your body still and straight. Try not to swing or lift your knees up. Lower yourself back to a complete hang before pulling back up.
Chin Up: Palms face back towards you.
Close Grip: With palms forward, bring your hands together so that your thumbs touch.
Parallel Grip: You’ll need to find to bars that run parallel to each other. Grip each one with your palms facing in towards each other.

Intermediate Pull Ups

Now we start to play with different grips and body positions to increase the challenge.

Towel: Hang a small towel from the pull up bar. Grip both ends of the towel in one hand and the bar with your other hand. Switch grips halfway through the set.
Low Switch Grip: Do a pull up with both palms facing forward. While hanging, switch the grip on your right hand (palm facing you). After another pull up, switch the grip on your left hand. Continue switching the grip on hand while hanging after each pull up.
L Pull Ups: Hang from the bar and lift your legs (keeping them as straight as possible) until they are parallel to the ground. Maintain this “L” shape and pull up.
Wide Arm: Grab the bar, palms facing out, with your hands wider than shoulder width apart.
Wide Parallel Grip: Grab on to two separate bars that are wider than shoulder length apart with palms facing each other.
Commando: Instead of facing the pull up bar, turn 90 degrees in either direction so that you are facing towards an end of the bar. Grab the bar with both hands next to each other, palms facing together. As you pull up, shift your one side of the bar. Move our head to the other side on the next repetition.
Mixed Grip: One palm faces forward, the other faces towards you. Switch halfway through each set.

Advanced Pull Ups

These pull ups feature explosive pulling and dynamic movements.

Kipping: Unlike the standard variety, kipping pull ups are all about using momentum and your different muscle groups to generate the power needed to get up to the bar. Hang from the bar with a slight swing. As you  pull, give a little kick with your legs to help boost you up to the bar.
Plyo: In an explosive movement, pull straight up and try to launch your chest up higher than the bar.
Muscle Ups: Muscle ups go even further than plyo pull ups. You want to pull/launch yourself high enough that you can get your weight over the bar, allowing you to then push up on the bar and extend your arms.
Monkey Walk: This works best on a longer pull up bar. Pull up and “walk” sideways by sliding your hands one at time along the bar.
Cruncher: As you pull up, curl your legs up trying to get your knees as close to the bar as you can.
High Switch Grip: Similar to the low switch grip pull ups. This time, you will switch grips one hand at a time at the top of each pull up.
Side-to-Side: At the top of each pull up, keep your hands were they are and shift your body to the left and right as far as you can.
Back-and-Forth: At the top each pull up, shift your weight away from the bar and bring it back before lowering yourself down.

So how many pull ups can you do? How many do you want to do? Pick a goal and then pick a Workout Dojo routine. If you need inspiration, the world record for most pull ups in a minute is 50 for men and 39 for women. What are you waiting for? Your own personal record awaits.