How To Do Your First Pullup [4 Step Program]
Ever been caught hanging on the edge of a building and wish you could do a pullup? Me neither.
Nevertheless I believe having the ability to do a pull-up is important, maybe not life or death important, but important nonetheless.
As pullups aren’t just a test of strength. They’re a test of relative strength and that shits important.
Greater relative strength = a healthier ratio of muscle mass to bodyfat. That being the case (I would assume) relative strength would have a high correlation to health, physical appearance and in some cases – athletic ability.
So how do you do your first pullup?
The easiest and simplest answer: Lose some weight, specifically fat.
The more fat you’re carrying around the more useless weight you’re lug up over the bar.
If you’re overfat you should set weight loss as your number one priority (this will help you out: 5 Ways To Reduce Calorie Intake Without Feeling Hungry).
Then you can look at training for your first pullup IF you fit the following criteria:
A: You’re prioritizing weight loss and addressing it through a sensible eating regime and exercise.
B: You’re already a fairly lean guy, you may not have abs, but you’re certainly not lugging around a tire.
Once you’ve ticked off those criteria follow these 4 steps and I can guarantee you you’re first pullup:
1. Start with Basic Back Exercises
I’d recommend pull-downs and dumbbell rows.
These exercises will add strength and size to the upper-back. Plus the pull-down will strengthen specific muscles used during the pullup.
Do these two exercises three times a week for 3 sets of 8 repetitions adding weight as you get stronger.
As soon as you’re dumbbell rowing between 10kg (22lb) and 20kg (44lb) consider testing the waters with the next step.
2. Move onto The Inverted Row
The inverted row will start to challenge your relative strength in an easier way than pullups. Allowing you to do enough repetitions to strengthen your upper back.
Set at a height where you can perform 3 sets of 6 with good form (squeeze your ass and keep your abdominals tight with minimal swing). After you can perform 3 sets of 8 with good form, lower the height of the barbell.
Do these 3 times a week (it’s a good idea to do them ontop of the exercises in step 1).
When your body is at a 45 degree angle or lower you’re ready for the next challenge.
3. Do Assisted Pullups
Pick ONE (whichever one you prefer/ have the availability for):
– Band Assisted Pullups
My personal favorite as you can get resistance bands that offer varied degrees of assistance, so you can adjust according to your ability.
Loop one end of the band around the bar and make a knot, then attach the band to yourself one of two ways:
Feet Secured (easier):
– Partner Assisted Pullups
Have your training partner hold your feet and assist you in competing the repetition.
Make sure they use just enough assistance to get you through the set.
– Negative Pullups
If you don’t have any of the above equipment the negative pullup will be your exercise.
When doing a negative use a box to get into the top position with your head over the bar. Squeeze the bar tight, bend your knees and lower in a controlled manner (around 6-10 seconds).
For all these exercises it’s important you maintain solid technique:
- Keep the ass and abdominals squeezed.
- Keep your eyes looking forward the whole time – don’t “peak” over the bar.
- Make sure you complete each repetition after a complete hang.
As soon as you can do 3 sets of 8 with moderate to light assistance (or negatives) you’re ready.
4. Do Your First Pullup
Depending on your bodyfat and level of back strength you might be able to do more than 1 pullup by this stage.
You can use the cues below to make them first few pullups easier:
- Focus on pulling your shoulder blades down and back.
- Pull the bar TO YOU, don’t pull yourself to the bar (think pull-down).
- Again, keep the ass clenched and abdominals tight.
Once you’ve achieve your first pullup, the world is your oyster… Keep increasing the number of repetitions you can do on a session by session basis. If you could do with some more assistance exercises once you’re over the initial hurdle – click here.