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Mastering the Pullup in 5 Steps

Are you embarrassing yourself every time you attempt a pull-up? Not to worry! I was there many years ago and can confidently say I know how to increase the quality and quantity of my pull-ups.

The steps we're discussing are more about checking the boxes of what it takes to increase the quality & quantity of reps in a set. So this isn't a linear path and some steps take longer than others, but you should aim to check every box eventually.

  1. Manage bodyweight

It is easier to lift something lighter, no? Get your body weight under control & you will see improvement.

2. Frequency

Pullups differentiate themselves from other exercises in that there is an amount of skill you need to execute the movement. Understanding how to manipulate your body weight, more 1st reps, and putting in the hours all are aspects of developing the skill of a pullup. Instead of doing pull-ups twice a week on your upper body day, end every session or begin every session, with a set or two of pull-ups. Pullups and any variation of a vertical pull with your body weight aren't going to destroy your central nervous system so your recovery will be there. Acquiring this skill in my opinion and any skill really, at a higher frequency will result in a direct uptick in development.

3. Focus

If you want to get better, move pull-ups to the front of your workout. The fresher you are for the exercise, the higher quality you should see.

4. Variation

I firmly believe variety is king when it comes to bodyweight movements. While the same core muscle groups may be involved in any variation of a pull-up or chin-up, they receive different exposure in different movements. Chin-ups have a focus on the short head of your bicep, and a neutral grip pull\up has a focus on the long head of your bicep. Creating a variety of approaches in your programming not only will round out your vertical pulling strength, but show you where you lack and what to improve on.

5. Dead Hang

Ensuring a full pause at the bottom of each rep to me is what got me from 1 pull-up sets to sets of 5+. A full stretch at the bottom forced me to not shortchange myself on any rep and when your quality of reps is really high, the numbers will naturally follow.

These 5 steps or boxes are just my opinion of how to improve, as always, go find out for yourself and see what works for YOU!

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