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First Strict Pull-Up: Tips

As a CrossFit coach and personal trainer, one of the most common goals I hear from my clients is the desire to perform a strict pull-up. A strict pull-up is an exercise that requires a lot of upper body strength and technique. It involves pulling your body weight up to a bar, using only your arms and back muscles, without any momentum or kipping. If you’re new to fitness or have never attempted a pull-up before, it can seem like an impossible feat. However, with dedication, consistent training, and the right approach, anyone can achieve their first strict pull-up.¬†

Here’s how:

1. Strengthen Your Back and Arms:

The first step to getting your first pull-up is to focus on strengthening the muscles used in the exercise. The main muscles used in a pull-up are the lats (latissimus dorsi), biceps, and upper back muscles. Incorporate exercises that target these muscles into your workout routine, such as rows, lat pull-downs, chin-ups, and bicep curls. Start with a weight that challenges you but allows you to complete three sets of 8-10 reps with good form. Gradually increase the weight as you get stronger.

2. Practice Hanging:

One of the keys to performing a successful pull-up is having a solid grip on the bar. Practice hanging from the bar to build grip strength and get used to the feeling of hanging from the bar. Start by hanging for 10-15 seconds at a time and gradually increase the duration as you get more comfortable.

3. Use Resistance Bands:

Resistance bands can be a helpful tool to assist you in getting your first pull-up. They work by taking some of the weight off of your body, making it easier to perform the exercise. Start by attaching a resistance band to the bar and looping it around your foot or knee. This will help you perform the movement with proper form and build the necessary strength to perform an unassisted pull-up.

4. Perform Negative Reps:

Negative reps involve lowering yourself down from the bar in a slow and controlled manner. This eccentric phase of the exercise is a great way to build strength and get used to the movement pattern. Start by jumping up to the top of the pull-up position, then slowly lower yourself down for a count of five. Repeat for 3-5 reps per set.

5. Practice Assisted Pull-Ups:

Assisted pull-ups involve using a machine or partner to assist you in completing the exercise. This can be a great way to build strength and get used to the movement pattern while gradually reducing the amount of assistance needed. Start by using a machine or partner to assist you in completing 3 sets of 5-8 reps with proper form.

6. Stay Consistent:

Getting your first pull-up takes time and dedication. It’s important to stay consistent with your training and make it a priority in your workout routine. Incorporate the exercises listed above into your routine 2-3 times per week, and be patient with yourself. It may take several weeks or even months to achieve your first pull-up, but with consistent effort, it’s definitely achievable.

Getting your first strict pull-up requires dedication, consistency, and the right approach. By focusing on building strength in your back and arms, practicing hanging and using resistance bands, performing negative reps, practicing assisted pull-ups, and staying consistent, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your first pull-up. 

Remember to celebrate your progress along the way, and never give up on your goal!