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How To Do Perfect Pull-Ups


Pull-ups are one of the most useful exercises available for developing upper-body strength and are very much in vogue in the modern fitness industry. Do them properly and they'll be a real help to you. Here's how to do the perfect pull-ups...

First of all, don’t push yourself too hard, set yourself unrealistic goals, or feel discouraged if you can’t do a lot of pull-ups in one set. The ability to pull one’s entire body weight upwards is a great indicator of general strength and fitness. Even if you can only do one or two reps before stopping, that still means you have a good amount of upper body strength. Only people with excellent strength can perform as many as ten pull-ups in one set.

This is the basic pull-up sequence:

  1. Place yourself in the starting position by hanging off the bar with your hands just wider than shoulder-width apart. Hold the bar with an overhand grip, and have your feet either hanging just above the ground or crossed behind your body.
  2. Pull yourself upwards until your chin is able to sit just above the bar. It’s not a race; this can be done at a slow to medium pace. You also want as little movement as possible in the trunk of your body.
  3. Slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position. Do not let your feet touch the ground.

This is one rep. Repeat this sequence as many times as your arms will permit, but be sure to maintain the correct technique and positioning to get the maximum benefit from the exercise and prevent any possible injury.

Let's go over a few key things you should be aware of when doing pull-ups:

  • Do not try to increase your upward pulling momentum by jumping off of the ground; this will make the exercise less effective and can cause injury to your shoulder muscles.
  • Try to balance yourself and use the right and left sides of your body equally when doing the exercise so that you don’t end up with a muscular imbalance which can cause postural problems.
  • Keep your head facing directly in front of you, not upwards at the bar. This will minimize the strain on your neck.

The basic sequence described above is the classic pull-up, but there are several variations. We advise that you get comfortable with the classic pull-up before trying any of the others.

If you are currently unable to do pull-ups, then don't worry, there are things that you can do first to build yourself up to being able to do pull-ups:

A negative pull-up is a type of exercise that utilizes the lowering phase of the pull-up. Get a step or a box or something so that you can raise your chin up to the height of the bar. Then step off the box and slowly lower yourself to the starting position of the classic pull-up. This is one rep. Negative pull-ups are an excellent way to build your strength to the level required to do full pull-ups.

Another good way to condition yourself to do full pull-ups is to use something called a resistance band which is like a giant elastic band. Hook the device around the bar and then underneath your knees or feet. The band will then provide a force that will aid you in doing the rising phase of the pull-up. Doing these aided pull-ups will gradually build your strength, and before long you’ll be able to do them without the band.

We advise you to stay away from the assisted pull-up machines you will come across in some gyms. These machines are not as effective as the full body workout you get from doing unassisted pull-ups, as they require less effort from the core and muscular areas of your body.

f you aren’t comfortable doing full, unassisted pull-ups yet, go with the negative or band assisted pull-ups or, if you can do even one or two full pull-ups already, just do that in every gym session and you’ll fund the number of reps you can do per session will gradually increase.

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