Paragon Training Coach showing how to get your first pull-up.

How To Get Your First Pull-Up

No Pull-Up? Let’s Fix That

Are you struggling to get your first pull-up? We’ve got you.

While kipping pull-ups may look cool, strict work is definitely where it’s at to maximize building strength and aesthetics.

We like including both in our programming. Strict will always translate to more reps while kipping, but not necessarily the other way around. We like to think it’s good to have a well-rounded toolbox!

Strict Versus Kip

Kipping allows us to hit higher volume and more reps, as we obviously have the assistance of gravity and momentum. The key here is to make sure to keep the feet and knees together with the legs locked out.

Reversely, with strict pull-ups, we may not be able to tally as many reps. However, can add things like weight and tempo, and change our hand positioning to elicit different effects and recruit different muscles.

Working On Your First Pull-Up

For those without a pull-up, we love using a barbell on a rig. Sit in a kneeling position with the tops of the feet on the floor, butt on top of heels, and barbell set high enough that arms can be locked out overhead and just barely reach the bar.

Set the shoulder blades down and back, use toes as a spot as needed, and pull the bar to the chest with control. Really concentrate on recruiting and engaging the lats and ascending/descending with control.

Consider a 3-second tempo up, 2-second hold at the top, and a 3-second descent down. You might want to play with the bar height to increase or decrease difficulty as needed.

Elevated ring rows can also be a potent tool. Manipulate box height or add weight to change stimulus as well. Don’t be afraid to video yourself to make sure your body stays tight, rather than leading with hips and leaving the pull for last. Engage and recruit the lats.

Improving Your Pull-Up Technique

For those with pull-ups, maintain a hollow body position (squeeze abs and butt, and engage lats) and consider adding weight, adding tempo, or playing with hand positioning by taking hands more narrow or wider.

Try hitting a 5×5 rep scheme 3 times a week, and mix it up every so often. For example, try strict pull-ups one day, elevated ring rows the next, weighted chin-ups the next, etc.

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