Proper Techniques to Correctly Perform a Pull Up

Change your “I Can’t” to “I Can” and “I Did”.



Everyone has a goal that seems out of reach. For some it's being able to do a handstand or box jump that may seem unattainable. For others, running a mile without stopping or being able to perform a pull up seems impossible. All of these goals are attainable and our trainers are here to help you get there. Keep reading for tips and follow along our videos that will assist you in correctly performing a Pull Up.

You might have confused pull ups and chin ups when they were mandatory in your school physical education tests, but there is a big difference. While both require you to pull yourself above a bar, pull ups require your palms to face away from your face. Alternatively, when you perform a chin up your palms face towards your face as you grip the bar and pull yourself over. Chin ups are typically thought of as the easier of the two exercises, the reason being that during a chin up you use your bicep muscle more than you would during a pull up. Chin ups are beneficial if you want to work on your biceps more. However, pull ups are more difficult because it is more targeted towards the lat muscles, whereas in chin ups you have assistance from your biceps. Opting for pull can be beneficial if you want to target your lats and forearms.

With this in mind, getting started with pull ups starts with some prep work. This preparation period should last about two weeks.

Start by prepping your rotators with internal and external rotation with a cable machine or resistance bands. Start with a weight that is challenging only on the last few reps. For this two week prep period start with doing three sets of 10-15 reps of rotations about three times a week.


Another great prep exercise is shoulder blade squeeze. Follow the same workout formula by performing three sets of 10-15 reps of shoulder squeezes three times a week.

Lastly, practice holding boat pose three times a week. For boat pose, hold the pose with good form for as long as you can. Do this two times per day. Once you have completed the prep period and these exercises get easier you can move on to strength exercises.

Once you’ve completed these couple weeks of prep work, you’ll be ready to start with strength exercises that will help your targeted muscles grow and support a pull up. This strength period can last anywhere from 6-8 weeks. Your first strength building exercise will be pull up holds. For these, you will hold yourself up in a pull up for as long as you can for two rounds. Use a bench or chair to help you reach the bar and get into the pull up position.

Next you’ll challenge your lats by doing an eccentric pull up. Use a bench or chair to prop yourself close to the bar and come to hold a pull up and lower yourself slowly to the ground. Go as slow as you can for 5-10 reps.

Next, you will use a resistance band to support part of your weight and do full pull ups. Assisted pull ups will help you get used to doing the full movement without having to pull up your full body weight. For banded pull ups, start with a band where you can perform at least 3-5 pull ups for 4 sets.

Do these strength exercises for up to 8 weeks then start trying to do a pull up alone to see your progress! If you’re still having difficulty complete all these exercises with more challenging weight until you’re able to achieve your goal. Follow along with all these tips for pull up success! Check out our posts on how to properly do a pull up and follow along. Always remember that proper form matters!

Still having trouble with pull ups? Book one-on-one time with a personal trainer to help get you started!