How To Build Strength To Do Pull-ups

By admin
Mar 23 2024

How To Build Strength To Do Pull-ups

Building strength to perform pull-ups, a fundamental upper-body exercise, involves a multifaceted approach focused on progressively increasing your muscle strength, particularly in the back, shoulders, and arms. Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to improve your current performance, here’s a comprehensive guide to help you build the necessary strength for pull-ups.

Start with Basic Exercises

If you’re new to pull-ups, begin with exercises that build foundational strength in your upper body without requiring a pull-up bar.

Lat Pulldowns: 

Lat pulldowns are a staple exercise targeting the latissimus dorsi—the broad, flat muscles on either side of your back—and engaging the biceps, shoulders, and core to a lesser extent. When performed correctly, they can significantly enhance upper body strength and improve your ability to perform other exercises like pull-ups. Here’s how to execute a proper lat pulldown and common mistakes to avoid.

How to Do a Proper Lat Pulldown

  • Set-Up:
    • Sit down at a lat pulldown station and adjust the knee pad to fit snugly against your legs to prevent lifting off the seat.
    • Grasp the bar with a wide grip, wider than shoulder-width. Your grip should be overhand (palms facing forward).
  • Starting Position:
    • Sit upright with a slight lean back, chest lifted, and shoulders down and back.
    • Engage your core.
  • Execution:
    • Pull the bar down towards your chest, drawing your elbows down and back towards your hips.
    • Squeeze your shoulder blades together as the bar approaches your chest.
    • Pause briefly when the bar is in front of your chest.
    • Slowly extend your arms to return the bar to the starting position, maintaining control throughout the movement.
  • Breathing:
    • Inhale as you begin to release the bar back to the starting position.
    • Exhale as you pull the bar down towards your chest.

Body Rows or Australian Pull-ups: 

Set up a bar at waist height on a Smith machine or use a TRX system. Lean back holding the bar, keeping your body straight, and pull your chest to the bar. These are great for building back and arm strength with a lower body weight percentage. 

Alongside whatever else anyone else is saying, make sure you incorporate inverted rows in some capacity. They properly train the correct muscles for pullups as long as you maintain good form, and they are very safe to do. Once I incorporated them I got my first ever pullup within a few weeks, and now I can do 3 pullups with perfect form.

Strengthen Your Grip

Grip strength is crucial for pull-ups. Incorporate exercises that improve your grip.

  • Dead Hangs: Simply hang from a pull-up bar with both hands for as long as you can. Aim to increase your time gradually.
  • Farmer’s Walk: Carry heavy weights (dumbbells or kettlebells) in each hand and walk a certain distance. This improves grip endurance and strength.

Use Assistance to Progress

Assisted pull-up methods can help bridge the gap between foundational exercises and performing a full pull-up.

  • Resistance Bands: Attach a resistance band to a pull-up bar and place your foot or knee in the band. This will take some of your weight, making the pull-ups easier.
  • Assisted Pull-up Machine: Many gyms have an assisted pull-up machine that can help you perform the movement with less than your body weight.

Perform Negative Pull-ups

Negative pull-ups focus on the lowering phase of the pull-up, which helps build strength and muscle memory.

  • Start by standing on something to get your chin over the bar, then slowly lower yourself until your arms are fully extended. The slower, the better.
  • Aim for 3-5 sets of 5-8 reps, gradually increasing the lowering time.

Incorporate Core Exercises

A strong core stabilizes your body during pull-ups, making the movement more efficient.

  • Planks: Hold a plank position for 30 seconds to a minute. Work on side planks as well to strengthen obliques.
  • Hollow Holds: Lie on your back, extend your arms overhead, and lift your legs and shoulders off the ground, holding the position to engage your core.

Practice Consistently

Consistency is key to progress. Incorporate these exercises into your routine 2-3 times a week, allowing for recovery time between sessions. As you get stronger, try to reduce the assistance gradually until you can perform a pull-up unassisted.

Focus on Nutrition and Recovery

Building strength also requires proper nutrition and adequate rest. Ensure your diet is rich in protein to aid muscle repair and growth. Also, get enough sleep and consider incorporating active recovery days to promote muscle healing. 


Mastering pull-ups is a gradual process that demands patience, perseverance, and a strategic approach. By starting with foundational exercises, building up your grip and core strength, utilizing assistance, and focusing on negative reps, you’ll develop the strength needed for pull-ups. Remember to prioritize consistent practice, proper nutrition, and recovery to support your progress. With dedication and the right strategy, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your pull-up goals.

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