Regardless of where you’re at in your pull up journey, every woman has their own unique style for executing these exercises.
Which kind of pull up(er) are you?
You’ve spent a lot of time working on your strict pull ups and perfecting your form, and it shows.
The Calisthenic pull uper can rep out strict pull ups without breaking a sweat. No kipping or butterfly variations here!
Similar to the Calisthenic, the Ex-Gymnast truly knows their way around the rig and can knock out pull ups like nobody’s business.
The difference here is that you make good use of the kip (with beautiful form, nonetheless), because it’s what you were taught working on bar routines.
When you get to the bar, you may have good form. Or not? It’s hard to tell because you spend all your time jumping up and down just to get your hands on the pull up bar!
The Double Pumper
You’re working hard on those strict pull ups, and we commend you for your hard work!
But don’t forget that pull ups are not supposed to be a leg workout; they’re a shoulders and back workout. Take a step back and work on building up that lat strength so you can really shine when it’s time to do pull ups in a WOD!
The Flapping Eel
Butterfly pull ups are really cool, aren’t they? And they’re fun to try (as long as you don’t rip your hands!).
Problem is, you’re not quite getting your chin over the bar. Instead, the Flapping Eel just flails around under the bar in a vague butterfly motion. Let’s just say we know Andrew Hiller would slide into your comments section on Instagram if you recorded yourself doing these.
The No Repper
This is for the CrossFitter who hasn’t yet mastered the motion of the Flapping Eel and instead kips. But their chin still never crosses over the top of the bar, not even once.
Back it up and spend some more time working with the thin band to assist you. You’re so close!
You know how a frog looks swimming through water, its legs gracefully pumping in, out, and around? That’s what the Frogger looks like, just not in water and hanging from a pull up bar.
Again, pull ups aren’t a leg workout! Build up those lats and pulling muscles and you may be surprised to find out you don’t even need your legs at all to get pull ups!
Friend, we get it. Pull ups are hard, and bands make them easier.
But when your chin is soaring above that bar because you’ve got a whole rainbow of bands assisting you, it’s time to put a few back! You’ve got this!
The Games Athlete Wanna Be
You know this girl. They grip onto that pull up bar and can easily knock out large sets of beautiful butterfly pull ups without a hair out of place. And they’re often one of the nicest people in the gym.
If you are the Games Athlete Wanna Be, thank you for inspiring us. If you’re not the Games Athlete Wanna Be, do everything in your power to get tips and tricks from this person. Your pull ups will be better for it!
Getting that First Pull Up
Attempting to get that first pull up is a frustration every person who’s stuck with the sport for a while knows well. Maybe you are just naturally good at that type of movement and knocked a couple out within your first few tries. That’s great!
But, if you’re like most of us, working up to your first pull up (or getting better at them so you can string them together in a workout) takes time and practice.
Here are seven steps you need to take to get your first pull up, or that you can use to improve your form:
- Start with a dead hang. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart and your arms close to your ears. Work up to hanging on for 20 to 30 seconds, which builds up your grip strength.
- Move to an active hang. From a dead hang, pull up only your shoulders, engaging your shoulder blades and traps. Keep your legs straight and activate your core. Like the dead hang, work up to holding this position (without letting your core sag) for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Get your chin over the bar. Using a box that allows you to keep your arms extended when holding onto the bar, jump so your chin is over the bar and you’re still in that active position (toes in front of the bar and core engaged). Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds before getting down.
- Try negative pull ups. Once you’re in that same position you were in in the previous step, you’re going to gradually lower yourself rather than holding. Control your body’s descent and work up to a descent that takes 5 to 10 seconds
- Master assisted strict pull ups. Sit down on the floor and measure where your hands reach when you extend your arms. Then, put a barbell in the rack at this height. Flex your knees so your feet are flat, set your shoulders down and back, and pull your chin up over the barbell. Lower yourself back down to a seated position in a controlled manner. Note: As you get better at this movement, you can adjust how much you use your legs to assist you, even going down to using one leg rather than two.
- Add a band. Using the hooks, thread a thick band between the rig, parallel with the bar. Use a smaller box to step onto the band, fully extending your arms. Take a deep breath, squeeze your core, and pull yourself up.
- Decrease the band size. Once you’re able to do larger sets of pull ups assisted by a thick band, swap it out for a thinner band. You may only be able to get a few at first, but the more you work with the thinner band, the stronger you’ll get and the more pull ups you’ll be able to do.
At first, work on your pull ups two to three times per week, then work up to every other day. It’s best to avoid working on them every single day so you don’t risk too much fatigue on your muscles.
Whether you’re a newbie trying to get that first pull up or you’ve been doing high-volume sets for years, everyone’s pull ups can improve with a little work and focus on form. Which type of pull up(er) are YOU?
March is the founder and owner of The Barbell Beauties which she started in 2015. She is from the Philippines and currently lives in beautiful Thailand with her American husband and daughter. She is an avid Crossfitter and has just started her journey into Muay Thai (kickboxing).