The answer to getting your first Pull-up

Pull Ups…. “an exercise involving raising oneself with one’s arms by pulling up against a horizontal bar fixed above one’s head.”
Simple? Well yes, when you can do them that is…
Being able to pull your own body weight up is a big achievement, it is arguably one of the best indicators of relative strength. We see a lot of people coming to us in the gym with the same goal, to achieve a pull up.
So the question is how to get there… Perhaps you are the person who has been doing CrossFit for a year or longer and yet the ability to do a pull-up still eludes you?
If this sounds like you or someone you know, one of these three issues may be the reason why you still yet haven’t developed the ability to perform a rock-solid pull-up.
Focus on developing strength
Jumping pull-ups and ring rows are commonly used as substitutions for anyone who doesn’t not yet already have pull-ups. While these substitutions may be adequate within a workout to keep you moving and your heart rate elevated, we as coaches haven’t found these methods to be effective in developing the strength necessary to perform a proper pull-up. Remember, that a substitution or scaled movement is not the same as a progression. A proper exercise progression is designed to develop your ability.
The good news is that if you are coming to classes, you have probably already noticed that there is a BIG focus on pulling strength within the base programmemememe already. So if you are consistently training, you shall already be improving! Make sure that you are getting the most out of each session, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If getting a pull up is a big goal of yours, we do recommend getting in some extra strength work such as practising isometric holds, pull-up negatives, and accessory work to improve scapular stability.
Working directly with a skilled coach to build a pull-up progression that’s tailored to your unique needs will be the quickest way to get you there. A coach will be able to assess your current level of strength, mobility, and identify any functional movement issues you may have and design a progression that will efficiently progress you to a proper pull-up.
Ensure your body is capable
If you are suffering from a long-term injury that doesn’t seem to be recovering by itself the solution should be pretty obvious. Seek out the care of a one of our expert physiotherapists. Diagnosing and treating injuries are outside the scope of practice for us as coaches so if there is a niggle, get it checked out before you maybe make it worse.
Skipping past strength development and jumping right to learning kipping and butterfly pull-ups can lead to injuring an upper extremity. The dynamic nature of kipping demands increased stability and strength throughout the shoulder in order to be performed safely. You will often hear us as coaches strongly reinforce the need to develop competence in strict pull-ups before worrying about kipping or butterfly variations.
It’s not just the work inside the gym
Perhaps you are not injured, you consistently come to classes and you have been putting in time and effort to develop a strength base. You feel confident doing cleans, presses, squats as part of a workout. Yet the pull-up, push up and most other bodyweight exercises are yet to be mastered.
CrossFit has forged you into the fittest person you’ve ever been… but you still may be a few pounds away from being in the best shape you can be? As we’ve said many times in the past, you can’t out train a poor diet. If you’re a male and your body fat percentage is north of 20%, consider looking at your nutritional approach. Ladies, the same advice applies to you if your body fat percentage is 25% or above. Take a look at your nutrition and make sure that your food intake aligns with your goals.
Make it a goal to achieve your first strict pull-up within a set time frame. Figure out which of these reasons is preventing you from already having a strict pull-up and then work with a coach to come up with an action plan to get there.
Having a goal, putting in the work and staying consistent is hard, we get that, we have all been there. We as coaches want to help you succeed, if you have goals make sure you let people know, and follow through with them. It really is the most rewarding feeling to achieve a new skill, or do something you never thought could – we promise you won’t regret it!