If you’re still aspiring to your first pull up and want to ensure the rest of your routine is building up to that big moment, these exercises can help.
Each of the five exercises listed below help train the exact muscles you need to achieve strong and effective pull ups.
With all these muscles working properly your first pull up shouldn’t be far off.
As this video shows, bent over rows require you to choose a dumbbell of a weight that challenges you and to ensure you are in the optimal position for performing the exercise:
The bent over row is a compound exercise which works many muscles throughout your upper body, the major group targeted being in your back – the rhomboids and latissimus dorsi in particular. Your biceps, forearm muscles and shoulders also play a supporting role and all the muscles are needed for a successful pull up.
Our deadlift video shows the perfect form for a standard deadlift, focusing on getting all your muscles to work in unison as you use your hips and abs to lift and lower the dumbbell:
Deadlifts are essentially designed to strengthen your core, training the central muscles in your body to ensure you can hold your own body weight and are able to utilise the other muscles in your body with ease. A strong core is essential for a successful pull up.
Utilising a barbell locked in place or in fact any immovable object positioned at arm’s length, you’re ready to carry out a body weight row, as our video shows:
The body weight row, also known as an inverted row works all the muscles in your back as well as your biceps and traps. It helps ensure your back is as strong as the other parts of your upper body and a well-trained back is key to effective pull ups.
If you’re still not quite achieving that pull up then why not have a little help? The assisted pull up allows you to experience the move with a little extra boost:
This move allows you to enjoy what a pull up feels like with a little extra support, until your body has been honed through these other moves to carry out the exercise unaided.
Why not trying going down rather than pulling up? Lowering yourself below the bar in a ‘negative’ move to the standard pull up still allows you to build that core strength you need for the real thing:
Negative pullups give your upper body muscles the lift they need to head towards that elusive pull up and with all these moves mastered and worked into your work out you’ll achieve it in no time.
I tried a negative pull up today and omg it was much harder than I expected. I personally prefer doing boring old press ups and bicep curls with hand weights to strengthen my arms.
Claire R and Craig T. There are many video clips available of women demonstrating chin ups as this is a strength to bodyweight exercise, at the same level of training men will have a superior lifting capability but this kind of exercise women often out perform men. The high involvement of back muscles in the exercise mean that bicep/ tricep power is less important.
There are many who have a BMI higher than 25 who can rep out easily with chins and some below 20 BMI who can't do one rep. Chin ups / pull ups are about technique and conditioning but clearly have a high element of bodyweight involvement, obviously because more wright makes any exercise harder.
I think my BMI is in that range but it is a long time since I've been able to do a pull up. Will look for the 'wuss' version if anyone has any ideas?
Gonna have to disagree with you there Craig, the pull up is my dream move! These exercises will work just the same for men and women.
Well of course men have naturally stronger arms and are generally more more interested in building their arms up. So I guess this article is aimed more at men for a good reason.
I was going to ask the same as Clare but looking at it I think we can do it! I do exercises 1,2 and 3 regularly so just need to step it up a bit!
this is all shown with men - I know women generally have lower upper body strength, but is it achievable for a non-superwoman?
I'm still on the quest for that elusive pull up - I'll definitely keep these points in mind to get there quicker.
pull ups are the toughest of all exercises for me.I have never heard of negative pull ups before either.
Nice ideas. Might also be good to mention getting your BMI to less than 25 before you try pullups?