5 best exercises to help you get a pull up

Once upon a time, I could not do one single pull up….

I was a fresh off the shelve personal trainer starting my journey working in the commercial gym at the time and it annoyed me that i didn’t have them.I would see people daily in the gym females and males knocking out chin ups and pull ups for fun-mind you some not the best with poor half range movements yet some people with excellent form.So in came my goal!

My goal was to string at least 10 strict together-which I do now.

I gave myself 6 months to get them.

Here is what I did to assist me on hitting my goal.Hope it helps you out too.

The pull up is one of the most fundamental and functional bodyweight exercises.In my opinion you don’t have the basics dialed in until you have the pull/chin up along with a full push up,good air squat,body weight deadlift, front/back squat-This is generally what i work with clients first along with their mobility when trying to get them better.I feel chasing performance over aesthics is something far better to focus on. Most of the time when performance starts to improve we start to see improvements in body image once nutrition is dialled in too.

Getting your first chin up/pull up really can be a great feeling.

Here is a client of mine Kathy achieving her first EVER,plus has gone on to get 3 unbroken now after 5 months of good training.

This is what is really going to help you out

  • Bar hang

If you’re going to pull yourself up from a hanging position, you’d best learn how to hang first(a strong grip leads to a strong upper body)Generally I will have the client hang for 20-30 secs each time for about 2-3 rounds.This can be incorporated into the warm up or post workout too.If this is really still too challenging not too worry its 100% still doable.Simply hang from a low hanging bar,bend your knees and allow your toes take some of your weight to support you.Along with building upper body strength and grip strength this is also a super exercise for opening up the lats and help your mobility along with helping you out if you suffer from low back pain.


(This is how it generally should look above,Arms locked out,grip over hand or under if you like,toes pointed,tummy tight,smiling is optional)-Don’t worry if this is too much,you need find a lower bar or bring in a box and allow your toes to screw into floor to assist you your bodyweight.

  • Negative Ring/Trx row

Something I like to do with lots of clients and is a super exercise that is going to give you good rewards.Firstly its for everybody and can be scaled to your level,Its going to assist with building scapular strength while working on posterior chain and helping you get a better posture.

Generally the set up will look like this below.


What you need to do first of all is find an angle that is going to work you (the more vertical you are the easier it will be and the more horizontal you get the more challenging it gets.I like to screw my heals into floor or find a plate/bell/box/rig to support you in place.Keep hips up,ankles,knees,hips shoulders all working together as a team and in a straight line.Start at the top of the movement this time,squeeze shoulder blades together holding for 3 seconds at the top then letting you body travel slowly backwards finishing in a arms locked out position.Generally I tend to work with a 4-8 rep range here for about 4-5 sets.

Still not too sure on what its meant to look like,no worries go watch this VIDEO 

  • Chest support row/single arm row

2 super exercises here that I tend to bring in with clients that is going to improve upper body strength.For chest supported row lie on a incline bench with a relatively heavy kettlebell or dumbbell in each hand. Pull the weights all the way up with the intention of touching your thumbs to your armpits, and squeeze your shoulder blades together for 3-5 seconds. This is a fantastic way to help increase your pulling strength.Rep range can vary here but if your going heavy 4-8 reps is sufficient enough dialing in that tempo.Chest support row will look like this.


Single arm row is generally same principles as above.Quick tip here for you when doing unilateral exercises (Single arm/leg work) always start with your weaker side and finish with your stronger side.

Stand to the right of your weight bench, holding a dumbbell in your right hand with your palm facing in.

Place your left knee and your left hand on top of the bench for support. Let your right arm hang down and a bit forward reaching for KB/DB at floor.Keep shoulders square,pull weight to side rib cage,squeezing shoulder blade together and hold for 3-5 seconds.Control the descent and pull again to top.Should look like this below

Video HERE for you

  • Negative chin up/Isometric chin hold

Again 2 super exercises that will help you get them pull ups.

Let me start with the negative chin up.This time you start over the bar and what your going to work here is the downward phase slowly lowering yourself to the bottom generally taking about 5-8 seconds ideally,insuring you finish with a locked out arm full extension/full ROM position.Sometimes you will see people jump upto bar then hold and lower slowly but what i feel works best is forget the jump,grab a box,secure yourself over the bar with assistance from box and use box to assist you at the start.This video really is the best way of explaining everything here.

Isometric chin hold 

Get yourself to top of bar( use box here if needed) secure your grip in,bend elbows,get your chin over the bar,tummy tight and aim to hold in this position for 15-20 seconds.Super exercise that not only is helping you upper body strength but its really working on the top position which generally is the hardest part of the movement.It will look like this pic below


Anyway hope this info helps you out.Looking forward to seeing you in the gym working on the exercises above which i know is going to lead you to the overall goal.

Thanks for reading



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