Tips for Getting Your First Pull Up
Let’s talk about a few strength training exercises that we can do as part of our warmup to help build the strength needed to complete a strict pull-up.
Bands are a great piece of equipment, however I don’t like them for overall strength building. I think that they have their place in a workout, by allowing the athlete to complete the prescribed reps safely, but as a strength building tool for your first pull up (or your 51st pull up) I’m not a huge fan
One of the easiest strength building exercises for your first pull up is simply hanging on the pull up bar. Jump up, grab the bar and hold 2 – 3 times as part of your warmup and hold onto the bar until you fail out and can’t hold on anymore. As you get more strength built up you can move to just holding with the tips of your fingers. This movement will help build grip strength. If you can’t grip the bar, you can’t pull up to the bar.
Next, move into some jumping negative pull ups. You’ll jump up, grab the pull up bar and hold at the top of the rep for 2-3 seconds. Then lower down slowly, at least 5-6 seconds. Do this for 3 sets of 5-7 reps each.
Weighted negative pull ups. This is the same movement as the jumping negative, but you’re holding weight while you’re doing it. Same movement, hold at the top for 3 seconds, then slowly come down. (5-6 seconds), do 3 sets of 4-6 reps at a weight that is challenging, but allows you to complete the desired reps.
Scapular pull ups are the last tip I’ll give you today. They really help build strength in the scapular region of the back and the lats, which is where the pull in the pull up should initiate from (not the arms). The range of motion here is very small, just a few inches, but hanging from a pull up bar you’ll pull your shoulder blades back and down (the down is important) Do 3 sets of 8-10 of these.
Repeat these exercises as part of your warm up for a few weeks and you’ll notice that you’ll be more comfortable on the bar and stronger on the bar as well, hopefully strong enough to complete your first pull up. If not, don’t worry, keep working at it, it will happen. When I first started doing CrossFit it took me 6 months before I was doing my first pull up. Literally. When I started I could do 0. 6 months in, I was doing sets of 5.
Hang, 2-3 times till failure
Jumping Negative, 3 sets of 5-7 reps
Weighted Negative, 3 sets of 4-6
Scapular Pull ups, 3 sets of 8-10