Master Your First Perfect Pull-Up

by Tanner Shuck

Once you get these simple exercises down, the pull-up will be a breeze.

Once you get these simple exercises down, the pull-up will be a breeze.

Nailing a strict pull-up is a milestone that every lifter should work towards. However, gaining the strength to do it with your bodyweight is a challenge for many.

Master these bodyweight pulling progressions, and not only will you improve your relative strength, but you’ll be well on your way to doing your first strict pull-up.

1. Ring Row

It’s the most fundamental rowing variation. Before you attempt the strict pull-up, master the ring row first. Start with your body angled high. As you get stronger, lower yourself gradually until you can do ring rows horizontally with feet elevated.

2. Seated Pull-Up

This variation is a great way to introduce the vertical pulling pattern since it allows you to train the full range of motion of the pull-up without overloading the tissues before they’re ready. Seated pull-ups bridge the gap between the ring row and the strict pull-up.

3. Chin-Over-Bar Hold

This develops the bent-arm strength required to perform a strict pull-up. Start by holding your chin above the bar for 3 sets of 20 seconds.

4. Pull-Up Negatives

You’re stronger on the eccentric/lowering phase than the concentric/lifting phase. Pull-up negatives essentially build strength throughout the entire range of motion. Start with a hold and lower yourself slowly under control until your arms are fully extended. Start with 5 sets of 5 reps with a 5-second negative on each rep.

5. Lat Pulldown/Assisted Pull-Up Machine

If you have access to these machines, use them. They’re a very effective way to progressively build the strength you’ll need for the strict pull-up. Use them in conjunction with the bodyweight pulling progressions.