• Thomas Stockton

How to get your first pull-up

The pull-up is one of the single best exercises you can do. It works some of the main muscles in the upper body including the lats, delts, biceps and the core. Most back pain is a result of bad posture from working at a desk or sitting a lot, they are great for strengthening your back and improving your posture. By breaking the movement down into the progressions below and with training consistency they are achievable to anyone.


Passive/ active hang

By working between a passive and active hang we are going to be strengthening and activating the lats and scapular which is key for the pull-up. Begin by simply hanging from your pull-up bar or gymnastic rings. Pull your shoulders down while keeping your arms locked out and straight. Once you have pulled your shoulders down, slowly release and return back into the passive hang.

Pull-up (feet on floor)

We are going to lighten the load we are pulling by placing our feet and butt on the floor. Begin in a passive hang and pull your shoulders down to get into the active hang. From there pull your hips up whilst keeping your feet in contact with the floor. Imagine pulling the bar down, rather than trying to pull yourself up.

Negative Pull-up

This is the eccentric part of the movement and half of what makes a pull-up. Begin at the top of the pull-up bar so either use a step or jump up to the top position. We want to begin in the active hang position, with our clavicle to the bar and try to hold this top position. Slowly lower down all the way to the bottom and relax into passive hang.


When performing the pull-up you can experiment with different hand positions which is going to alter the movement slightly. Pronated grip (palms facing away) is going to focus more on pulling with the back. Supinated grip (palms facing towards) is going to focus more on pulling with the biceps. Neutral grip (palms facing each other) is my personal go to as I find it most comfortable and is going to provide a nice balance between the two.

This is by no means an extensive list to progress to the pull-up or beyond. If you need help with achieving the pull-up and any of the progressions send me a message and I will be happy to help.

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