Pullups are the ultimate test of relative body strength and it’s also one of the top calisthenics exercises for beginners. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, here’s how to master the pull up, do more reps and see significant progress.

You’re all aware of the old adage You’ve got to learn how to crawl before you can learn how to walk and nothing could be more accurate in the gym.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the training and exercise selection, most people suffer through workouts that don’t deliver the best results because they perform exercises beyond their ability.

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Your goal should be to perform the right exercises for your current level of fitness–not the most popular/trendy/fancy –and work up slowly over time with proper technique.

Like everything else in life, you’ll learn how to become better at any exercise over time. This guide will teach you to master the pull up and give you significant results beyond building a strong and powerful back.

Choose the appropriate exercise variation based on your current fitness levels, and then progress your way to a stronger and powerful back.

How to Master the Pull Up: The Ultimate Guide

Level 1: Dead Hangs from Pull up Bar

How to do

Hang from a pull up bar, with palms either facing you or away from you with a shoulder width grip. Remain in this position for as long as you can in a straight line. You can bend your knees towards your chest if you can.

Where to Begin

Begin by performing 5 sets of 15 sec to get used to the stretch. If you find 15 sec difficult to hold, try for atlas 10 sec at first and progress towards 15 sec. Rest for 30 – 60 sec between each set based on your hanging time.

As you can see below, hang yourself from the bar without trying to pull yourself up and allowing the gravity to work its magic on your pulling and grip strength.

Your Goal

Work up to performing 5 – 6 sets of 45 sec dead hang with upto 2:00 min rest between sets. Once you’ve achieved this goal, move on to next level – Neutral Grip Pull ups.

Level 2: Neutral Grip Pull ups

How to do

Hang from an overhead bar, with palms facing each other. From a dead hang, pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar. Pause for a second in the top position squeezing your shoulder blades into your back pockets, and return to the initial position with control.

Where to Begin

Assuming you were able to hang for 45 sec, begin by performing 5 sets of 4 reps, resting 2:00 minutes between sets.

Check out the below video where you can learn how to do Neutral Grip Pull ups with proper form.

The Goal

Work up to performing 6 sets of 6 reps, resting between 2:00 min between sets. One you’ve mastered this level, move on to next level – Chin Ups.

Level 3: Chin-ups

How to do it

Hang from an overhead bar, palms facing you, with a shoulder width grip. From a dead hang, flex your elbows and pull yourself up until upper chest contacts the bar. Your chin should be above the bar in the top position. Pause for a full second in the contracted position, pulling your shoulder blades down into your back pockets, before lowering yourself under control back to the starting position. That’s one rep.

Where to Begin

Begin by performing 5 sets of one half your current chin-up maximum. (For example: if you can perform 4 full chin-ups, start with sets of 2 reps), resting 2:00 minutes between sets.

Check out the video below on how to do chin ups with proper form.

Your Goal 

Work up to performing 5 to 6 sets of 5 to 6 reps, resting 2:00 between sets. Once you’ve achieved the goal, move on to level 4 – Mixed Grip Pull ups.

Level 4: Mixed Grip Pull ups

How to do it

Hang from an overhead bar, one palm facing you and one palm facing away from you, with a slightly wider than shoulder width grip. From a dead hang, flex your elbows and pull yourself up until your chin clears the bar. Pause for a full second in the contracted position, pulling your shoulder blades down into your back pockets, before lowering yourself under control back to the starting position. That’s one rep.

Where to Begin

Assuming you’ve mastered level 3, begin by performing 6 sets of 3 reps (alternate your grip each set), resting 2:00 between sets.

Check out the video below on how to perform Mixed Grip Pull ups with proper form.

The Goal

Work up to performing 6 sets of 5 to 6 reps (alternating your grip each set), resting 2:00 between sets. Once you’ve achieved the goal move on to level 5 – Pull ups.

Level 5: Pull-ups

Description

Hang from an overhead bar, palms facing away from you (overhand), with a slightly wider than shoulder width grip. From a dead hang, flex your elbows and pull yourself up until you chin your chin clears the bar. Pause for a full second in the contracted position, pulling your shoulder blades down into your back pockets, before lowering yourself under control back to the starting position. That’s one rep.

Where to Begin

If you’ve mastered level 4, begin by performing 5 to 6 sets of 3 reps, resting 2:00 between sets.

Check out the video below on how to do Pull ups with proper form.

The Goal

Work up to performing 5 to 6 sets of 5 to 6 reps, resting 2:00 between sets. Once you’ve achieved the goal move on to level 6 – Towel Pull ups.

Level 6: Towel Pull Ups

How to do it 

Fold two heavy duty hand towels, evenly spaced, from an overhead bar. Set a strong grip on each towel and move into a dead hang position. Once your grip is set, flex your elbows and pull yourself up until your chin clears the bar. Pause for a full second in the contracted position, pulling your shoulder blades down into your back pockets, before lowering yourself under control back to the starting position. That’s one rep.

Where to Begin

Now that you’ve mastered level 5, begin by performing 5 to 6 sets of 3 reps, resting 2:00 between sets.

Check out the below video where you can learn how to do Towel Pull ups with proper form.

The Goal 

Work up to performing 5 to 6 sets of 5 to 6 reps, resting 2:00 between sets.

By now, I assume that you’ve made enough progress to master the pull up and has built significant strength in your arms. I would strongly suggest you to master the basics before you move on to next levels.

Also Read:

  • Top 10 Pull Up Variations for Beginners

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Good Luck!

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To your health and fitness,

Ravi Kumar G.