When it comes to pulling strength, we all have different levels. Some people can effortlessly do more than twenty-five pull-ups, while others can not even do one! No matter where you are at, you can significantly improve your pull-ups count. The rule of thumb is that the more pull-ups you can currently do the harder it will be for you to further increase your pull-ups number. Let’s get started with actual and practical information on how you can start doing more pull-ups.
The starting position of the pull up
|The top position of the pull up
What if I cannot even do one pull-up?
Not everyone who starts working out can knock 3, 5, 10 or even 20 pull-ups. If you cannot do a pull-up right now (or can do only one pull-up), do not judge or criticize yourself. Many of the sedentary people who suddenly start working out, can not nail their first pull-up quite yet. All you need to do is to follow the progressions below, which will increase in their difficulty as you scroll down:).
Progressions #1: Hanging from a bar for the maximum amount of time
To gain basic strength as you start working out, you should do a static hold on the bar for the maximum amount of time you possibly can. To maximize the effect of this exercise, do three sets with your maximal (or close to maximal) effort. Once you can hold the bar for a duration of 30 seconds or more (for at least one out of the three sets), you can move on to the next progression.
Progressions #2: Negative pull-ups
When you can hold the bar for 30 seconds or more in a row, start doing negative pull-ups. In this exercise, start from the top position of the pull-up (chin above the bar) and descent until your arms are fully upright (the slower, the better). To reach the top position, stand under the bar or under a box if necessary, jump, and use the momentum to pull yourself up. Make sure that your core is tight and focus on the contraction of the lats. When your arms are fully extended, release the bar and return back to the ground. This is one repetition. Once you can do at least three sets of 10 reps (or a total volume of 30 reps in three sets), move on to the next progression.
Progressions #3: Resistance Band Assisted Pull-ups
As you get better at negative pull-ups, move on the resistance band assisted pull-ups. In this exercise, use a corresponding resistance band, based on your training level. The goal of the exercise is to assist you performing pull-ups using an external resistance that pushes you upwards. As always, keep your core tight and focus on your lats. Like any of the progressions above, the more you will follow this exercise consistently, the faster you’ll improve. Once you can perform at least three sets of eight repetitions (or a total volume of 24 reps in three sets) with a light resistance band, it’s time to move on to the next progression.
Progression #4: Regular Bodyweight Pull-ups
Congratulations! At this point, you have graduated to regular bodyweight pull-ups, which is the last progression for this article. Perform three sets of pull-ups and perform your maximal amount of reps. If you have successfully completed the previous progression (Resistance Band Assisted Pull-ups), you should be able to do at least three pull-ups (maybe even more) in each set. Over time, your number of repetitions in each set will get better as you train consistently for a few weeks. You should be able to pass the five repetitions landmark very fast if you train effectively and consistently!
Alternative Options to the Progressions Above
As an alternative, if you have access to an assisted pull-ups machine in your gym, you can use it, to adjust the difficulty of the pull-ups. When the resistance that helps to pull you up in the machine is relatively heavy, then pull-ups should be significantly easier to do. However, if the resistance in the machine is very minimal, then regular pull-ups should be harder to perform. When you decrease the resistance in the pull-ups machine, it is a sign that you are getting stronger and thus closer to your goal of performing regular bodyweight pull-ups. Alternatively, you can also use the Lats Pulldown and Seated Cable Row machines in your gym to become significantly stronger and develop your upper back. This will get you closer to your first few pull-ups.
What should I do now?
Good job, you have just completed reading the article. However, reading the article without putting in the work will not get you the results you desire. Only when you understand and constantly apply what you learn, that is when you succeed to reach your goals. Therefore, pick one of the progressions based on your training level, and stick to it for anywhere from one week to three months or more. When you master a progression (see what it means above), move on to the next one until master it too. Eventually, if you work hard consistently, you will surely pass five pull-ups. Do not forget to take recovery days between your training sessions since they allow your muscles to recharge for your next workout. If you can do five pull-ups or more at this point, check out how you can get from five to twenty pull-ups.
To improve your pullups count, we highly recommend you to invest in a high quality pull up bar for your home. It will help you stay motivated and be more consistent with pull ups, which is a super important key.