How to Do a Pull Up

Lots of you are working on getting your very first pull up. I’m here to help with some tips.


You can watch the demonstration in the video below and read on for more tips on getting your very first pull up:


Pull ups are such a great overall strength and body toning movement. All you need is a pull up bar, you’ll find one at a park, or you can have one installed in your house in a doorway or from the ceiling. The pull up is a great back and overall strength builder.



Admittedly, it’s really tough to get your first pull up. One of the most common errors is that people think they need to use their arms for a pull up. Your arms and your biceps are not as strong as your back, but most people do not know how to get their back engaged to use those muscles.



The first thing you need to know how to do is a scapular retraction. The best way to do this is by going to a pull up bar and you are going to hang there with your arms fully extended in a straight-arm position. What you are going to try and do is move your body weight without your arms. So what you are going to do is squeeze the shoulder blades together and start the movement by pulling the shoulder blades together, down and back. Imagine squeezing a pencil between your shoulder blades. So you are initiating the movement with your back.



Most people think that the strength-building portion of the movement is the contraction or concentric part of the movement (where you are lifting your body up to the bar). Actually it is the lengthening or the eccentric contraction of the movement that is actually the strength building part of the movement. This is where you are lowering your body from the bar.



The best way to work on the eccentric contraction, or lengthening part of the movement is to try some assisted pull ups. A great strategy is to stand on a box or bench to help you lift your body up to the bar. So even if you can’t get one pull up, you are going to start with an assisted pull up. Get your feet underneath you, start with the scapular retraction to get the body moving up and then help yourself up by using the box or bench. Then you’re going to take all of your body weight all the way down to a full straight-arm hang. It is this eccentric contraction that is going to build strength.


It’s also those eccentric contractions that make you sore, so go really easy, start with only one or two assisted pull ups, then build up to get more. Ensure that you’re taking your body weight all the way down.




Be careful. At first you might not even be able to hold all your body weight all the way down so get that chair or something behind you, so that if you feel like you are going to drop your feet can take some of your weight.


So there you have it, two strategies to help you get your first pull up. Start by learning how to do a scapular retraction and secondly, try those eccentric contractions or the assisted pull up with controlling your body weight on the decent of the movement.



Getting your very first pull up isn’t as hard or impossible as you may think.