The Roadmap to Pull Ups

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The Roadmap to Pull Ups

The Roadmap to Pull Ups

By Clark Hibbs

There are few things that demonstrate quality body control and strength quite like the strict pull up.  There are even fewer things in life that instill confidence and empower someone quite like being able to do the strict pull up. I mean, think about it… 

Now you have the strength to pull ALL of your body weight up. That’s pretty incredible. It’s an amazing feeling, and we want you to experience that! 

But what happens if you don’t “have” strict pull ups? How do you get there? What do you do? Where do you even begin?!

Well, we’re hoping this little blog post and program can help you out. While we can’t guarantee pull ups in a specific amount of time, we can show you the progression towards obtaining strict pull ups, and even beyond strict pull ups to kipping pull ups and muscle ups.

But before we run, we have to walk… and before we walk, we have to crawl.

There are a ton of different exercises we could do in order to obtain these pull ups, but we’re going to keep it very simple with the common exercises that you see us modify with at Yellow Rose. At the end of this post, there’s an 8-week strict pull up program you can do on your own!

The below table shows the exercise and the recommended rep range checkpoint before you move onto the next exercise. It is important for the safety and health of your shoulders that you do not rush these. You have a long time with this fitness stuff. Be patient!

The first 3 exercises could all be considered a starting point depending on your current level of strength.

Exercise Rep Range
Ring Row 10-12
Self spot with barbell on J-Cups 8-10
Self spot from box to pull up bar 8-10
Jumping Pull up with Negative 8-10
Strict Pull Up 2-3
Kipping Pull Up 8-10
Kipping Chest To Bar 3-5
Bar Muscle Up 1

 

You’ll notice a modification that many have seen that is not listed here: the band assisted pull up. The band assisted pull up, while seemingly helpful, is actually a huge roadblock for your progression towards strict pull ups. A few reasons being…

  • The band becomes a crutch, or you use too many bands to adequately challenge your strength in a safe manner.
  • Over time, bands stretch and lose elasticity, meaning it’s next to impossible for us to know how much assistance we are actually getting. Without that data, we don’t know how to progress.
  • It provides uneven assistance throughout the movement. With a taught band at the bottom position, members tend to slingshot their way to the top position without properly recruiting all muscles needed to make progress.

Basically, the few benefits you might get from a band assisted pull up do not outweigh all of the negatives. We will be distancing ourselves from band assisted pull ups in the future at Yellow Rose.

Take stock where you are now, and what you’re aiming for. If you’re still aiming for that strict pull up, we want to see you working self-spot pull ups and jumping negatives a LOT in classes. If you have some extra time, check out the program below to help get you to pull ups even faster.

————

The program is quite simple. There are 2 mandatory days each week, followed by a third “optional” day. To make it even MORE simple, we’re keeping the exercises very basic and accessible. Try to put at least 1 rest day in between the 2 mandatory days. (Note – this program is designed to help you achieve your first strict pull up.)

The exercises involved in this program: 

  • Ring Rows 
  • Self Spot Barbell assisted pull ups 
  • Jumping Negatives (and holds over the bar) 
  • Strict Pull Ups 

Enough fluff. Let’s jump right into this. 

Legend:

  • RR = Ring Row
  • SSBBA = Self Spot Barbell assisted pull ups
  • JN = Jumping Negatives
  • SP = Strict Pull Ups
  • CBH = Chin Over Bar Hold
  • ME = Max Effort 
  • BH = Bar Hang (hang from pull up bar with active shoulders)

The numbers will be listed as sets x reps. So if you see 3×7, that would be 3 sets of 7 reps. Take 45 seconds to 75 seconds in between each set. 

WEEK Day 1 Day 2 Optional Day 3
Week 1
  • Ring Row 3×10
  • SSBBA 3×10
  • BH = 3xME
  • JN  3×6

On JN, lower yourself as slowly as possible each rep.

  • RR 3×15
  • SPBBA 3×10 (as little leg assist as possible)
Week 2
  • Ring Row 3×12
  • SSBBA 3×10
  • BH  3xME
  • JN  3×6
  • RR 3×15
  • SPBBA 3×10 (as little leg assist as possible)
Week 3
  • Ring Row 3×15
  • SSBBA 3×12
  • JN  3×8
  • BH 3xME 
  • RR 3×15
  • SSBBA 3×10 (as little leg assist as possible)
Week 4
  • Ring Row 3×15
  • SSBBA 3×12
  • JN  3×8
  • BH 3xME 
  • RR 3×15
  • SSBBA 3×10 (as little leg assist as possible)
Week 5 
  • SSBBA 3×15
  • CBH 3xME
  • SP Attempts 3×2-3 (TRY! The activation from this attempt will help!)
  • JN 3×10
  • RR 3×15 
  • CBH 3xME
Week 6
  • SSBBA 3×15 
  • CBH 3xME
  • SP Attempts 3×2-3
  • JN 3×10
  • RR 3×15 
  • CBH 3xME
Week 7
  • SSBBA 3×15
  • CBH 3xME
  • SP Attempts 3×2-3
  • JN 3×12
  • RR 3×15 
  • CBH 4x ME
Week 8
  • SSBBA 3×15
  • CBH 3xME
  • SP Attempts 3×2-3
  • JN 3×12
  • RR 3×15
  • CBH 4xME

At the completion of the 8 weeks, shoot for an unassisted pull up. 

Did you get it? AWESOME! Keep going and keep practicing!
Didn’t get it? AWESOME! You still developed strength and capacity over the last 8 weeks that will lead you to those strict pull ups in no time.
Like we stated above, consistency is key. Try and establish a pull up routine before or after class 2-3 days a week for 8 weeks! 

Let us know if we can be of any help!

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