April 10

How To Properly Perform Pull-Ups


In this article, I am going teach you how to properly perform pull-ups as it's one of my favorite exercises of all time. Why is it one of my favorite exercises of all time?

Because this move is guaranteed to improve upper body strength, that is if your consistent and you do pull-ups at least three days a week. Yes, I'll say that again, THREE DAYS A WEEK.

That's what it takes. Year's ago when I first started out in fitness, I did P90X, have you heard of that program? I'm sure you have because it's such a popular program. 

I did P90x (the original) and I did P90x2 (my personal favorite) and I did P90x3. So that was my exposure to pull-ups.

However, I've designed my own workouts and do them today, but that doesn't change the fact that Tony Horton exposed me to this amazing bodyweight exercise. 

Why Everyone Hates Pull-Ups

If you know how to do pull-ups consistently, you are guaranteed to improve. Not only are you guaranteed to improve, you will see progress. However, I want to address why everyone hates this move.

Most people hate bodyweight pull-ups because of how damn hard it is and that it takes losing some weight to be able to perform just one pull-up with good form.

That mean's I suggest you start out on the assisted pull-up machine because I want you to train smart, not dumb and try hurting yourself by faking upper body strength to show off.

So that goes without saying, I strongly encourage you check out my Ultimate Conditioning Guide article as I have a free workout that I ran classes with!

That's pretty fucking generous of me to give you a FREE WORKOUT that up to 100 classmates I've worked with have done. So go read that article and do the workout consistently.

If you want to know how to do pull-ups, I want you to accept the fact that your starting point is essential. You also should not compare yourself to me. 

Never Beat Yourself Up if You Don't Know How To Do Pull-Ups

One of my favorite clients I've worked with. Dan, the man as I called him. What you are seeing is a slow concentric pull-up.

Rock on my brother! This is how you modify pull-ups if you find the assist machine easy but you don't feel entirely ready for no assist.

Anyways, the point is you should never compare yourself to anyone. Everyone has their own fitness levels my friend.

So it's important that you see how to modify as everyone has a starting point. Heck I have a video on YouTube demonstrating the pull-up assist machine. 

The whole point is that you never want to beat yourself up if you cannot do one without using a band or doing the assist machine.

Everyone has a starting point to this move. Heck I even motivated a lot of women to do this exercise because I noticed they think it's a "man exercise."

In all honesty, pull-ups can be done by most people, it just takes a shit ton of practice and failing. 

The More You Do Pull-Ups, The Better You Get

I know you've heard that before, haven't you? It's true my friend. You do not want to do this exercise once and then just stop.

In fact, you're not doing this enough if you only do it one day a week. I'd argue that three days a week is better.

Especially if you're just starting out. My client Jason here is demonstrating the pull-up assist.

We haven't even gotten to the actual exercise without modifying. Why is that?

Because man, this is important that you get good at the pulling motion and you know how to pull yourself up.

Here's what I always say when giving exercise instruction...

"Jason, PULL FROM THE LATS. Don't use the arms. This is all about YOUR BACK."

And remember my friend, the more you do this move, the better you get at it!

The less you do this move, the more YOU'RE GONNA SUCK AT IT!

 Here's what I always say when giving exercise instruction...

"Jason, PULL FROM THE LATS. Don't use the arms. This is all about YOUR BACK."

And remember my friend, the more you do this move, the better you get at it!

The less you do this move, the more YOU'RE GONNA SUCK AT IT!

Mistakes People Make With Pull-Ups

I know I have all these videos for you to check out, I just love pull-ups THAT MUCH. 

So it's time I address this stupid mistake. And when you watch this video, don't mind the audio quality. XD

To be clear, the reason why I included this in the article, is because I've seen this shitty mistake even in P90X.

And Tony did not even go over to correct this when his actors made this mistake.

So honestly, I want you to be in an attitude of gratitude as in I care about your pull-up progress.

When you are finally ready to transition from the assist machine and you have the confidence to do this on your own because you're doing my HIIT workout consistently, keep these tips in mind at all times.

The more weight you lose, the easier it is to do pull-ups. I really want to say that again my friend...


Master Hanging for 60 Seconds Prior To Performing Pull-Ups

So let's say you're good at using the pull-up assist machine, and you know how to do pull-ups with the bands.

Here's what you must do prior to performing pull-ups.

I want you to master hanging on the bar for a full minute.

It's going to be hard, but you can do it my friend. Set a timer for 60 seconds and start hanging from a bar.

The reason why I want you to master hanging is because you must get used to firing up your back and elongate the the lats.

That means you're going to be sore. Don't get scared. I simply want you to get good at the bar hang. 

Now you're in the right direction my friend.

Click here to see the benefits on why it's important to master the dead hang.

I want you to get good at this before attempting pull-ups.

You must master this as if you start to do pull-ups too soon, it's going to injure your back.

Get good at the dead arm hang my friend. Use a timer for 60 seconds.

How To Perform Dead Arm Hang For Beginner's

Use a bar, and what I want you to do is a little different than what Heathline suggests:

  1. Grip the bar and master getting comfortable with that
  2. Aim to keep your arms shoulder width-apart
  3. Tighten your core and lower abdominal area
  4. Keep your core tight throughout the dead-arm hang
  5. Start out with ten seconds before increasing to 30
  6. When you can hit 30, attempt to go farther up to 60 seconds

This is what it takes my friend. Get good at the dead arm hang.

And as I say, the more you do this move, the better you will get. The less you do it, the more you SUCK.

If you hate dead arm hangs, learn to embrace the suck man.

Because this is what will get you results and will guaranteed to get you properly performing pull-ups.

How To Perform Hanging Scapular Retractions

One of the most overlooked exercises that I notice people not doing (especially in the gym) is a hanging scapular retraction.

This exercise is extremely important my friend. Here's how to do hanging scapular retractions:

  1. Start out at a dead arm hang
  2. Depress the tension by allowing the shoulders to relax
  3. Raise your head and pull the scapulars down and together to activate the mid back
  4. Continue this movement for thirty seconds
  5. No shrugging the shoulders throughout the movement

This is important because I encourage people who cannot do a full range of motion pull-up to start out here.

You'll work the back (lats) on top of the shoulders and mid-back. 

So don't think that it's not working out because it definitely is.

I remember I would do this prior to working out my full back and shoulders.

Start Performing Full ROM Pull-Ups

Now you're ready my friend, start doing pull-ups because this exercise is such an amazing, beneficial move.

It not only improves upper body strength, it improves grip strength, back strength, physical health, and mental health.

You can do it my friend. It's going to help you get the body you want. 

And not to mention when you get good, you can start doing different pull-up variations such as that crazy chin-up video.

I absolutely cannot emphasize this enough, pull-ups are the mother of all back and bodyweight exercises.

So start doing them my friend, you'll get better and better. 

I will write an article on advanced pull-ups, however, start out here. You got this, go to the gym and DO IT!

 The Bottom Line

Pull-ups are one of my all time favorite exercises. And I've encouraged all my clients to do it.

So follow the steps laid out throughout this article.

And then here's what I want you to do, go through 5 Best Ways To Gain Back Muscle Quickly, on top of practicing pull-ups, you are going to gain back size guaranteed.

Just look at my clients, they all tell me how much they got better at pull-ups since working with me.

 So the bottom line is this, do pull-ups, but start out by losing some weight and do my FREE HIIT routine.

Then you're half way there. Start practicing pull-ups. The more you do it, the better you get.

I appreciate your time, go get to work and I'll be back with crazier pull-ups like that YouTube Short you see 😉

Schedule your consultation call here to work with me one-on-one.


So peace out you charming bastards!


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