Pull Up Progression for Beginners | The Ultimate Guide

This article may contain affiliate links.

pull up progression for beginners

The pull up is one of the most import bodyweight exercises. With the help of it, you can enhance the size and functional strength of your upper body, especially your back, shoulders, and arms. If you want to get that V-shape, it must be in your workout routine.

However, if you are new to strength training, it is not easy to do it.

Firstly, you need good strength to pull your entire body weight up. Moreover, many muscle groups have to work together the right way to perform the move correctly. Plus, you have to learn the correct technique to get the best results.

But, that is why this compound exercise is so beneficial, and it is worth to work for it.

Here I will show you how to do a pull up if you can’t do one. You will find exercises to help with pull ups and other tips.

Let’s start.


How to do a pull up correctly

Before talking about the steps, you should first learn what is the proper form to know what you should achieve.

I see a lot of people doing this exercise poorly. They lift themselves up just the halfway, or only to the top of their head, etc. These are OK and may help to prepare your body for the proper move, but these “activities” will not bring the strength and muscle gain results you want.

So, watch the video below to see the proper pull up form.


Pull up progression exercises

Before showing you the pull up progressions, I want to ask something.

Which is the most important muscle group for performing it?

I’m sure you answered: the BACK or LATS.

That is true!

But! There is a vital part of your body which must be strong, and people usually neglect the importance of it. Both who do weightlifting or bodyweight training.

The strength of your GRIP and FOREARMS!

Anyway, it is logical. If your grip strength is weak how the hell can you catch the pull up bar firmly? Your back can be powerful if the bar slips out from your palm.

Hence, you should pay attention to develop your grips and forearms. Various holds are great for that. You will find them in the following list.

OK. So, let’s see the exercises and few of my tips that I learned from my experience to create your perfect beginner pull ups workout.


1. Dead hang

dead hang
Just hang!

This is the first step. Grab the bar firmly and just hang without your feet touching the floor and with extended arms. Try to hang at least for 10 seconds, and as you get better increase the length as long as you want (even up to minutes). This static exercise is great to develop the strength of the required muscles.

TIP: Include hanging knee raises or leg lift in your abs workout. This way you train your abs and the muscles for pull ups as well.


2. Flex hang

flex hang
Holding at the top position | Credit: marksdailyapple.com (Al Kavadlo)


If you can do the previous exercise for about 20 seconds, this is the next step.

Grab the bar and pull yourself up until the bar is under your chin. Keep that position as long as you can. 10 seconds is OK, but try to lengthen the time up to 20-30 seconds. This static exercise will give a significant boost.


3. Body Row

bodyweight rows
Credit: teemajor.com

This is an essential dynamic exercise for preparing your body. It is a sort of light version for pull ups since your feet are on the ground, so the resistance is less.

For it, you need a low bar which lets you lower your upper body. In case, you do not have such a bar, you can put a bar on two chairs.

Grab the bar, straighten your body and keep that during the entire movement. Pull your chest up till it reaches the bar, and your shoulder blades are squeezed together. Then, slowly and in a controlled way lower yourself to the starting position.

If you can do 10-15 proper body rows, that is a good sign. So, you may try to do pull ups.

Tip: At the top hold the position for a few seconds.


4. Negative Pull Ups


This is the final stage of your pull up progression. Pull yourself up until the bar is under your chin. Then very slowly lower yourself back with a controlled technique till you reach the dead hang. Repeat as many times as you can. If you can do it 10 reps, you are ready.

Tip: If you find this exercise hard at the beginning, you can put something under your feet, so you start from an elevated position. But, try to get rid of it as soon as possible.


Additional exercises

There are other exercises for progression out there, but I did not do them because I feel like they are shortcuts and cheats. But, that does not mean you should not. We are different, and what does not work for me, it works for you.

Kipping pull ups


This is a variation when you use the momentum. Typically, it is done in Crossfit. My problem with this move is that it “teaches” you to perform an improper pull up. And, it is hard to get rid of bad habits.

Band Assisted Pull Ups

resistance band

In this case, we decrease the load by using resistance bands that are fixed to the bar and your feet. This way when you pull and lower yourself, it assists you making the move easier. It is not useless for progression, but I still believe it is better to be good at the first four exercises.

I do not list any exercises with weights (dumbbells or barbell) because I want to focus on bodyweight training.


Pull Up Progression Workout

With the help of these exercises, you can put together a pull up progression program. First, test which are the ones you can already do.

Let’s say you can do dead hang for 10 seconds and 5 repetitions of body rows. So, you aim is to increase the time and the number of reps.

Hence, for some workouts, you do 4× as long as possible dead hang, and 4×4-5 rows. Then, you challenge yourself to see your improvement and depending on the results you increase the reps and sets.

If you develop, you can try other the exercises that you could not do before. For example, flex hang, and if you can do it, add it to your pull up training program.

And you do these modifications continuously: include new exercises, increase the reps and sets, and the time.

Just try to do a little bit more on each workout even if it is only one extra rep or 2 seconds.

This is the progressive overload which is crucial for muscle and strength development. You “stress” your muscles a little bit more each time, so you will never get used to the training, so they have to progress.


To sum up

I hope you find this pull up progression for beginners guide useful and soon you will be able to do your first perfect pull up. Do not forget even the best athletes started somewhere and they reach that level with dedication, patience, and practice. If you have any questions, feel free to ask below.

Home workout advice: Would you like to do these exercises at home? Get a power tower workout equipment!


Related reading:


Did you like this pull up program for beginners? Share with your friends.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.