Interview – Pull Up Tips

It appears that my next challenge should be learning to comb my hair, and not with the rock that I used on the day that my good friend Ben Teal interviewed me 😉

(I’ve always been cosmetically challenged, so I don’t think I’ll ever take to a comb or make up the way I probably should. In fact, I’m just happy that I don’t have green hair like I did when I was a competitive swimmer.)

I digress…focus on the pull up tips and not my hair in this interview with my friend Ben.

First a little background on Ben:

Ben  Teal is a Certified Metabolic Trainer and the creator of Metabolic Mayhem.  Ben’s programs help the busiest of moms and dads quickly lose their unwanted fat and keep it off in only 20 minutes per workout.

challenge workouts
Ben’s take on fitness comes from a unique perspective. He actually had to struggle with his weight, losing over 100 pounds while juggling his career and family. He has a full-­time job (not in fitness), a beautiful wife,  two amazing little boys, and two hilarious dogs. Thanks in part to his background  in process efficiency and advanced research skills (MS and BA in Economics and BA in Philosophy), he was able to design a simple method for melting maximum fat in minimum time.

You can check out his program here.

As you can see in the video, Ben asks me some secrets to learning and becoming proficient at the pull up.


To summarize, here are the key points:

Do It!

In order to learn the pull up, you must do them! Don’t expect to magically be able to do a pull up if you’re spending all your time on the lat pull down machine or assisted pull up machine. I’ve got some tips to help you learn the pull up even if you’re at a ‘dead hang can’t go anywhere’ start.


Get your chest UNDER the bar so that you can use the stronger muscles of the back. Learn how to do a scapular retraction where you squeeze the shoulder blades together. It doesn’t look like much, but it really helps to learn how to engage the back muscles so that you’re not pulling with just the arms and inwardly rotating through the shoulders.

pull up tips

-Hang from the bar

-Look up

-Without bending the arms, squeeze the shoulder blades together

-You should see that this lifts you a few inches closer to the bar

Go for an Assist!

Assisted pull up that is…use a chair under the bar to help yourself up, jump up, use a band. Get your chest UNDER the bar anyway you can. Getting UP to the bar isn’t as important as what you do on the way DOWN.

It’s All About the Negative!

It’s the slow hanging descent that’s really important in strength development for the pull up. This is called the ‘eccentric’ contraction. Take your time descending from the bar, work up to a 5-6 count descent. Even if you can’t get UP to the bar, coming DOWN from it slowly will eventually help you get an unassisted pull up.


It’s pretty safe to use some kipping to allow you to get your chest under the bar, especially on the later pull up reps in your set. It’s sort of like  ‘forced reps’ in a sense.

Never Give Up!

Seriously, pull ups take time and determination. Don’t give up easily. Keep plugging away at them. Obviously, if you work on getting rid of the flub you’ll achieve your pull up best faster. (Ben’s Metabolic Mayhem can help with that. Click HERE to check that program out.)

pull up workouts
(FYI – Awesome plan to drop some pounds)

Need help with your pull ups?

Check my program out here. I’ve taught hundreds of people to do pull ups. If you’re willing to work hard, I can teach you too.