HomeHealth & FitnessGet Your First Pull-up or Chin-up! 30-Day Pull up Progression

Get Your First Pull-up or Chin-up! 30-Day Pull up Progression

Pull-ups are my favourite train of all time.

But what if you’ll be able to’t do a pull-up but?

The reply: learn this final information on getting your first pullup ASAP!

Here's a gif of a pull-up in perfect form.

We have helped lots of of Online Coaching Clients get their first pull-up, and we’ll cowl our actual methods under! 

As a part of our Strength Training 101 collection, we provide you with an actual plan to comply with main you to your very first full pull-up:

If you’ll be able to already do a pull-up (woot!), you would possibly need to take a look at our article on proper pull-up form, though we’ll cowl lots of the identical materials right here.

Let’s do that thang.

Tips on How to Start Doing Pull-Ups

In the video above, Coach Jim walks you thru the precise development system we use with our teaching purchasers who need to get their first pull-up (or chin-up).

Before we get into workout routines to progress right into a pull-up, let’s chat about some normal methods.

Consider the next three factors when making an attempt to get your first chin-up or pull-up:

#1) This ought to hopefully be apparent, however the extra you weigh, the extra you need to carry so as to full a pull-up.

If you’re actually severe about finishing a pull-up, begin by getting your weight-reduction plan underneath management. 

As we are saying right here at Nerd Fitness, 80-90% of weight reduction comes all the way down to what you eat (#4 in the Rules of the Rebellion).

Here are some assets that can assist you with weight reduction:

#2) MAKE YOUR “PULL” EXERCISES A PRIORITY. Lots of people do each different train earlier than doing any back-related workout routines, in the event that they do any in any respect.

After warming up properly, your first train ought to all the time be the stuff that you just need to work on essentially the most – on this case, it’ll be your again muscle tissues.

Until you get your first pull-up carried out, deal with the again workout routines detailed within the ranges and exercises on this information.

#3) The development we define is a path that works for most individuals, however does NOT have to be adopted to a T.

We give pattern units and reps and when to maneuver up, however in case you really feel like you’ll be able to progress sooner or need to attempt doing full pull-ups before we suggest, that’s OKAY.

This is the slower development methodology, the place some folks will need to do fewer reps and progress to the subsequent ranges sooner – that’s okay.

We suggest transferring up to the subsequent stage when you are able to do 3 units of 8 reps of a specific train. If you need the accelerated path, transfer on up as sooner as you are able to do 3 units of 5 reps. You do you boo.

You can follow our path for a pull-up but feel free to make it your own!

Want somebody to construct you a custom-made development plan for doing all of your first pull-up? Our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program will do exactly that, plus your coach can assessment your actions by way of our app so that you’ll know your coaching accurately and safely.

Level 1 Pull-up Workout: Bent Over Dumbbell Rows

Do a dumbbell row as a great beginner exercise to get strong enough for a pull-up!

We’re going to start out with bent-over dumbbell rows, essentially the most primary of again workout routines, in case you’re ranging from ABSOLUTELY sq. one.

Level 1 Pull-up Workout:

  • Bent-over dumbbell rows: 8 reps for every arm (or as many as you are able to do)
  • Rest for a 2-minute break
  • Do one other set
  • Repeat till you hit 3 units

What weight should you start out with initially?

Whatever permits you to get to not less than 5 reps a set.

Once you are able to do 3 units of 8 reps (every arm), it’s time to choose up a heavier dumbbell.

This will assist you to get stronger and stronger. 

Make positive you give your self not less than 48 hours till you do the Level 1 Dumbbell Rows once more, so you’ll be able to embrace these dumbbell rows on your exercises on:

As quickly as you are able to do 3 units of 8 reps, it’s time to maneuver up to a heavier dumbbell.

  • Once you’ll be able to carry a 25-pound (10kg) dumbbell or heavier, contemplate transferring up to the next level.
  • If you’re a little bit greater than the typical bear, you would possibly need to keep on with this step till you lose somewhat bit extra weight and get stronger – perhaps go to 35 or 40-pound (18kg) dumbbells.

Want assist designing your individual exercise routine? I’ve received two choices for you.

The first is to move over to “Build Your Own Workout Routine” and get your fingers soiled. Our information will stroll you thru constructing a full-body train program in 10 easy steps.

The second is to have a Nerd Fitness Coach do all of the heavy lifting for you (not likely, you continue to need to carry stuff), by having them construct you a tailored exercise routine:

Level 2 Pull-Up Workout: Inverted Bodyweight Rows

Inverted rows are a great exercise to work on doing your first pull-up.

Bodyweight rows are the PERFECT precursor to pull-ups – they work the identical muscle tissues, and have you ever lifting your individual body weight, simply at a distinct angle.

For this stage, we’ll give you two choices: You may also make changes.


You can comply with the remainder of this exercise as a part of our 6-Level Gym workout guide, which is able to enable you to go from complete gymnasium beginner to pull-up progressing badass!

At your gymnasium, discover your Smith Machine and set the bar at about chest peak. 

The next bar makes the train simpler to start out:

Start with inclined inverted rows for your pull-up workout. Then drop lower for more required effort.

And as you get stronger, you’ll be able to set the bar decrease:

As you get lower, like this, the row will be harder to do. Great way to progress into a pull-up.

Here’s a complete submit I did on inverted bodyweight rows.

Here’s tips on how to do an inverted body weight row:

  1. Set the bar at a peak the place it’s difficult so that you can full 3 units of 8 reps with two minutes of relaxation between units.
  2. Clench your butt and preserve your abs tight and physique straight all through the train. 
  3. Pull your shoulder blades down and again in the direction of one another (such as you’re attempting to pinch a pencil between them behind your again).
  4. Focus your thoughts on PULLING together with your arms.
  5. Pull till your chest touches the bar (not your neck).
  6. As quickly as you’ll be able to full all 3 units of 8 reps, set the bar heigh decrease to make the train tougher.

If it helps, here’s a video demonstration with gymnastic rings, however you can begin with a bar as displayed within the photos under.

If you’ll want to make the train much less difficult, bend your knees and put your toes flat on the bottom:

Bending your knees like so can be helpful to start doing inverted rows.

Level 2 pattern exercise routine:

  • Monday – 3 units of 8 reps of overhand body weight rows

Alternate between an overheand and underhand bodyweight row.

  • Wednesday – 3 units of 8 reps of underhand body weight rows (fingers reversed)

Alternate between underhand and overhand when doing bodyweight rows.

  • Friday – 3 units of 8 reps of overhand body weight rows

(And then go underhand, overhand, underhand the next week)

As quickly as you’re doing body weight rows the place your physique is at a 45-degree angle or decrease, you’ll be able to progress to Level 3.


You have 4 paths right here:

1) Purchase a door body pull-up bar, dangle a pair of gymnastic rings from them. And then comply with the identical recommendation as above!

2) Use your kitchen desk for rows (BE CAREFUL):

3) Do inverted rows between a pair chairs, as we stroll you thru in How to Do Pull-ups Without a Bar:

This gif shows Jim doing a row on chairs

4) Move up to Level 3 and progress with warning there.

If you’re battling rows, you’re undecided you’re doing them accurately, or you’re undecided tips on how to progress to the subsequent stage, take a look at our 1-on-1 coaching program

It’s the kind of program that helped single mother Leslie lose 100+ kilos and begin coaching with gymnastic rings and handstands! 

How did Leslie transform? Strength training. with pull-ups

Level 3 Pull-Up Workout: Assisted Pull-Ups

Steve doing an assisted pull-up, a perfect precursor to a regular pull-up!

Okay! It’s time to get to ACTUAL pull-ups right here! Personally, I don’t like utilizing the assisted pull-up machine in a gymnasium because it doesn’t provide the full feeling of a pull-up, but it surely’s actually higher than nothing.

Instead, I like to recommend doing one among these options:

#1) Assisted Pull-ups with a chair

A chair can be a great tool to help you get your first pull-up.

Either one foot or two on the chair, relying in your wants. Your toes are ONLY there for help, use your higher physique as a lot as potential.

You may also use a field or similar-sized object for a similar consequence:

A box can be used instead of a chair for a pull-up.

#2)Assisted Pull-ups with train band: 

Staci using a band for an assisted pull-up.

You can get various kinds of train bands with completely different ranges of power, or a range pack for simple development.

Put your foot within the train band and pull your self up.

#3) Assisted pull-ups with a associate:

A friend can be a great asset when you're trying to do a pull-up.

Have a good friend maintain your toes behind you and enable you to full every rep. Have them use the least quantity of assist potential to get you thru your exercises.

Here’s tips on how to do an assisted pull-up:

For one other reference, Coach Jim and Staci present you tips on how to do a variation of assisted chin-up proper right here:

This might be the TOUGHEST stage earlier than getting your pull-ups. If you get caught on “assisted pull-ups” and “assisted chin-ups”, you’re not alone. This is the place most individuals get caught.

We work hand-in-hand with folks such as you to get them their first pull-up in our Online Coaching Program. If you don’t know tips on how to match these actions into your exercises, or you simply need any individual to provide the actual exercise to comply with day by day, we received you!

Finally, a exercise that features Level 3 pull-up workout routines

  • Monday – Assisted Pull-ups – 3 units of 8 reps
  • Wednesday – Inverted Bodyweight Rows – 3 units of 8 reps
  • Friday – Assisted Chin Ups – 3 units of 8 reps

This will enable you to ramp up to Level 4.

Level 4 Pull-Up Workout: Top holds and Bar Hangs

Coach Staci showing you the bar hang

Alright, so we’ve began off nice! We’re working these pulling muscle tissues and assisted variations – however an precise chin-up would possibly really feel miles (or kilometers) away.

Heck, simply even holding onto the bar could also be a problem with out some help.

What ought to we do now? 

How about we work on holding onto the bar!?!

Before we work on doing full vary, unassisted chin-ups or pull-ups, it’s actually useful to be sturdy and assured in holding unassisted elements of the motion.

This is the place Top Holds and Bar Hangs are available in!

#1) A Top Hold is precisely what it feels like – we maintain the highest place of the chin-up or pull-up for a number of seconds (5 to 10). You’ll possible discover holding the highest of the chin-up (palms going through you) simpler than the pull-up.

Coach Jim holding at the top of a pull-up

This is certainly one thing that you just need to first do assisted. We’ll then work to switch extra weight – little by little over a number of exercises – off our toes and onto our arms till we’re holding ourselves unassisted on the prime.

Using a band is an efficient possibility for assisted chin-ups, however utilizing a field, bench, or one other sturdy object might be a greater possibility right here.

It will assist you to shift that weight onto your arms somewhat simpler.

That stated, if all you have got is a band for this train then that’s okay! Look to make use of thinner and thinner bands, whereas lifting the toes and knees up a bit to additional scale back help (because the band gained’t be stretched as far).

#2) On the opposite aspect of the motion, now we have the Bar Hang…which is just about what it feels like too!

Staci showing you the simple yet effective bar hang.

To carry out a bar dangle:

  • Grab the bar with palms going through in the direction of you or away from you. You’ll possible discover hanging with palms going through away from you to be a bit extra snug. Either path will assist strengthen up your grip.
  • Just like with the highest maintain, you’ll need to begin assisted then work to shift your weight out of your toes onto your arms till you’re hanging unassisted.

This gif shows Coach Jim doing assisted then unassisted hangs.

To additional supercharge this train: as soon as you’re hanging unassisted, work on retracting your shoulders down away out of your ears.

Like so:

Coach Jim doing a shoulder retract, shown from the back

And so:

Coach Jim doing shoulder retracts, shown from the front.

This small motion is TOUGH (and you’ll even follow it assisted) however getting sturdy right here will set your shoulders in an excellent higher place on your first chin-up/pull-up.

We’ll look to hold from the bar (assisted or unassisted) for a complete time of 30 seconds to 1 minute. At first this time could also be damaged up into a number of units (e.g., 10 seconds, 10 seconds, 10 seconds), however you need to finally work up to 1 full set.

So how ought to we combine both of those into our coaching?

#1) For the Top Holds, do that firstly of your exercise (after your warm-up) for 3 units of 5 seconds. Make positive you give it your all! Really squeeze the muscle tissues tight and put as a lot weight on the arms as potential!

With all that effort, you’ll need to give your self 30 seconds to a minute relaxation in-between. I do know that feels like rather a lot for simply 5 seconds of labor – however in case you have been working laborious sufficient, you’ll want it!

#2) For the Bar Hang, do that on the finish of your exercise for 30 seconds to a minute. Again, look to finish this in as few units as potential, whereas making the train as difficult as potential. Move from assisted to unassisted, with the shoulders retracted downwards.

You can start your gymnastic ring training by simply hanging from the rings!

If you need to take a break throughout the bar dangle time, then take sufficient relaxation in order that the subsequent maintain is productive.

Here Are the Exercises You Can Include for Your Level 4 Workout Routine:


  • Top Hold (Assisted or Unassisted) – 4 units of 5 seconds
  • Assisted Pull-ups – 3 units of 8 repetitions
  • Bar Hang (Assisted or Unassisted) – 30 seconds complete time


  • Top maintain (Assisted or Unassisted) – 4 units of 5-10 seconds
  • Bodyweight Rows – 3 units of 8 reps
  • Bar Hang (Assisted or Unassisted) – 30 to 60 seconds complete time

Friday –

  • Top Hold (Assisted or Unassisted) – 4 units of 5 seconds
  • Assisted Chin-ups – 3 units of 8 reps
  • Bar Hang (Assisted or Unassisted) – 30 seconds complete time

When you’re capable of carry out the Top Holds and Bar Hangs unassisted, then it’s time to maneuver to the subsequent stage!!!


Coach Staci showing you the front plant

What’s this??? Secret hidden workout routines?

I simply needed to convey your consideration to an excellent addition to any of those exercises – particularly as issues actually ramp up.

Ready for it?

It’s . . . the entrance plank!

This gif shows Coach Jim doing a front plank

The entrance plank (or any of your favourite midsection stabilization workout routines) is a superb train to do, ought to holding a Top Hold or a Bar Hang show powerful.

If you haven’t already felt it throughout the earlier pull-up exercises – your center must be concerned too!

During a pull-up or chin-up, if we squeeze by way of the midsection and glutes, the close by muscle tissues are capable of contract stronger by way of a phenomenon often called muscle irradiation.

Besides sounding like one thing the Fantastic Four encountered in area, this cool “trick” may also help engaged close by muscle tissues within the midsection, together with these large again muscle tissues that pull us up!

A picture showing the latissimus dorsi muscles

You can see muscle irradiation for your self in case you’ve ever been requested to flex your biceps for somebody. You’ll instinctually squeeze your hand tight, as a result of it helps the biceps interact stronger!

If wanted, throw in some entrance planks work close to the tip of your exercise.

You may even begin in your knees:

If you can't do a normal plank, start with doing them on your knees until you can advance.

Look to carry 30 seconds to 1 minute of complete time.

Alright, again to our common scheduled programming!

Level 5 Pull-Up Workout: Negative Pull-Ups

Staci jumping up to do a negative pull-up.

Okay! We are actually DANGEROUSLY near getting our first pull-up!

The large step at this stage is doing a damaging pull-up:

  1. Grab onto the bar with an overhand grip
  2. Jump so your chest is touching
  3. Slowly decrease your self underneath management till you’re on the backside of the motion.

WARNING: This might be very harmful in case you’re very chubby, which is why I’d suggest transferring slowly by way of steps 1-3 first.

However, after you have an honest quantity of again power (which you bought from Levels 1, 2, and three), doing negatives is an effective way to construct arm and again power.

You have two choices for damaging pull-ups:

  1. Hop up on a chair to get above the bar after which decrease your self again down. The identify of the sport is “in control.”
  2. Jump above the pull-up bar, after which start to decrease your self again down IN CONTROL.

You don’t must decrease your self so slowly that one repetition destroys you…decrease your self at a managed pace – Counting to “three Mississippi” throughout the motion is an efficient tempo.

Here are the workout routines you’ll be able to embrace on your Level 5 Workout Routine:


  • Negative Pull-ups – 4 units of 1 rep
  • Assisted Pull-ups – 3 units of 8 reps
  • Bar Hang (Unassisted) – 30 seconds complete time


  • Top Hold (Unassisted) – 4 units of 5-10 seconds
  • Bodyweight Rows – 3 units of 8 reps
  • Bar Hang (Unassisted) – 60 seconds complete time


  • Negative Chin-ups – 4 units of 1 rep
  • Assisted Chin-ups – 3 units of 8 reps
  • Bar Hang (Unassisted) – 30 seconds complete time

Once you’re doing all the damaging repetitions in every trainyou’re ready to do a pull-up.

As you’ll see above, we’re providing you with the “pull” workout routines if you’re building your own workout. If you desire a good beginner gym workout program, these actions will slot in completely.

Alternatively, we are able to do all the heavy lifting for you (properly, not ALL the heavy lifting) – we’ll create a selected exercise so all you need to do is log into your NF Coaching App every morning and do the exercise your coach prescribed!

Level 6 – Doing Your First Pull-up or Chin-up

OH BOY! My pricey Rebel, it’s time for a…

We made it! Here's Staci doing a pull-up!!!

At this level you have got two choices:

A chin-up is if you seize the bar with an underhand grip together with your palms going through in the direction of you.

A chin-up is a pull-up, but with your hands facing towards you.

Many discover chin-ups barely simpler than…

A pull-up is if you seize the bar together with your palms going through away from you. Seeing as it is a pull-up information…


  1. Grab the bar with a grip barely wider than shoulder-width, together with your fingers going through away from you.
  2. Start from a lifeless dangle.
  3. Engage your shoulders, pull them down and again in the direction of one another (like you’re pinching a pencil between your shoulder blades!)
  4. Flex your abdomen, pull your physique till your chest touches the bar.
  5. Slight pause, yell out “I’m a champion!”
  6. Lower your self all the best way again all the way down to a lifeless dangle.

We cowl all of this and extra in our submit “How to Do a Proper Pull-Up,” however the above will get you began

Depending in your weight, your stage of health and power, and the way far alongside you’re in these progressions, you would possibly be capable to begin with even multiple pull-up.

At this level, you generally is a full Gym Class Hero by following a Gym Workout with these actions in there on your “pull” workout routines:

 Level 6 routine weekly schedule:


  • Pull-ups – 4 units of 1-2 reps (transfer onto the subsequent train in case you can’t carry out a rep)
  • Assisted Pull-ups – 3 units of 8 reps
  • Bar Hang (Unassisted) – 60 seconds complete time


  • Negative Chin-ups – 4 units of 1 rep
  • Bodyweight Rows – 3 units of 8 reps
  • Bar Hang (Unassisted) – 60 seconds complete time


  • Chin-ups – 4 units of 1-2 reps (transfer onto the subsequent train in case you can’t carry out a rep)
  • Assisted Chin-ups – 3 units of 8 reps
  • Bar Hang (Unassisted) – 60 seconds complete time

Congratulations! You’re now doing pull-ups. Make positive you watch that video above to ensure you’re doing pull-ups with correct kind. Nearly all people does them incorrectly, with unhealthy kind.

Want to ensure you have correct kind together with your pull-ups? Check out our 1-on-1 Coaching program! Our spiffy cell app permits you to ship video of your pull-ups on to your coach, who will present suggestions so you’ll be able to excellent your approach.

They’ll additionally construct a exercise program that’s {custom} to your state of affairs, which can have you doing units of 10 pull-ups in NO time!

Level 7 – Advanced Pull-up Moves

Now you can move onto advanced pull-ups like Steve is doing here.

Once you’re capable of do 3 units of 10 pull-ups or chin-ups, you have got a couple of choices:

OPTION #A: Continue to get higher at doing extra reps – 3 units of 12, 3 units of 15, 4 units of 20, and so on.

OPTION #B: Start doing different forms of pull-ups.

Here are some superior pull-ups you’ll be able to attempt: 

#1) WIDE GRIP PULL-UPS (seize the bar WAY out with each fingers):

Maintaining a wide grip is a great advanced pull-up.


Another form of an advanced pull-up for you. Shift your weight from arm to arm.


If you own some rings you can use them like so for some advanced pull-ups.

#5) TOWEL PULL-UPS (Great for grip strength)

OPTION #C) Add weight with a weight belt and do weighted pull-ups or weighted chin-ups:

A weighted pull-up is great for progressive overload on your muscles.

Personally, my favourite factor to do in a gymnasium is weighted pull-ups; in case you’re at this stage and serious about doing so, right here’s what you’ll want to do:

  1. Get a weight belt. I bought this one on Amazon and it’s labored out extremely properly for me. I’ve tried doing the entire “put weights in a backpack” and it actually works, however the angle of the weights hanging off your again is bizarre. With a weight belt, the burden hangs down between your legs (not a euphemism) so it feels extra pure.
  2. Add small quantities at a time. Most gyms can have 2.5 lb (roughly 1kg) weights; you would possibly really feel silly placing on a giant weight belt and solely hanging a tiny weight off it, however you’ll want to begin someplace.
  3. Consistently add extra weight. I’ll heat up with two units of 5 pull-ups with no further weight, after which do 3 units of 5 weighted pull-ups. If I can full all 3 units of 5 reps (with my chin over the bar for each rep), I’ll make an observation so as to add 2.5 or 5lbs (1 or 2kg) to my weight belt for the subsequent time.

Here’s tips on how to incorporate these Level 6 workout routines into your gym workout routine:

  • MondayWeighted Chin Ups – 3 units of 5 reps
  • Wednesday Elevated Feet Body Weight Rows – 3 units of max repetitions
  • Friday – Wide Grip Pull-ups – 3 units of most repetition
  • (The following week, I’d alternate by doing the chin-ups with out weight, after which doing weighted pull-ups

Where do you go from right here? How about working in the direction of some of the spectacular workout routines of all time? The MUSCLE UP (warning: uber superior)!

Our new app, Nerd Fitness Journey, not solely has an journey to get you your first pull-up, however we’ll additionally present you precisely tips on how to do cool body weight tips just like the muscle-up too. No guesswork wanted right here, simply bounce into the app and comply with the missions and exercises for the day.

You can attempt your free trial TODAY, proper right here:

Lift Yourself Up (A Life With Pull-Ups)

The world can be your pull-up bar as Steve is showing here.

No matter your start line, you CAN do pull-ups.

And you WILL do pull-ups with this information. 

You don’t must comply with the development above precisely – it’s merely one path that you may take so as to attain the promised land…the place the pull-ups stream like wine and the ladies instinctively flock just like the Salmon of Capistrano.

High Five! You are now doing pull-ups!

Just ask Christina, who can now do a number of units of pull-ups – her story is incredible:

Christina started rocking pull-ups after Nerd Fitness Coaching

Or Bronwyn, who misplaced 50+ lbs and now does chin-ups along with her daughter on her again!

For folks on the lookout for the subsequent step, we’ve constructed 3 choices which may float your boat:

1) If you’re any individual that wishes to get outcomes like the ladies above and comply with a tailored pull-up power program designed round their life and targets, check out our popular 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program.

You’ll work with our licensed NF instructors who will get to know you higher than you realize your self, examine your kind, and program your exercises and vitamin for you.

#2) Exercising at residence and want a plan to comply with? Check out Nerd Fitness Journey!

Our enjoyable habit-building app helps you train extra regularly, eat more healthy, and stage up your life (actually). We even have an superior journey that can assist you get your first pull-up!

Try your free trial proper right here:

3) Join our free neighborhood, the Nerd Fitness Rebellion, and we’ll ship you our free Strength 101 Guide, which you will get if you signal up within the field under:

Follow the trail that works on your schedule, your expertise, and your stage of consolation with this motion – there’s no disgrace in going slowly and progressing safely.

And in case you’re gung ho about pull-ups, prepared for negatives and attempting to squirm for that first rep, be at liberty to go for it. Just be secure.

When you DO lastly do a pull-up, I need to be the primary to know – e mail me at steve@nerdfitness.com and inform me about it!

For the Rebellion,


PS: Check out our different three articles on pull-ups:

PPS: Want to study extra? Read the remainder of the Strength Training 101 collection:


Photo Souce: Muscles that Move the Humerus



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