How to Start Using Pull-Up Bars

Before you start dangling, swinging, and pulling up:

  • Your hands are probably weak (sorry). If so, check out the article How to Increase Your Grip Strength.
  • Don’t jump right into swinging or pulling, first just hang. Even if that means you keep your feet (lightly) on the ground.
  • It is important to learn how to hang with your shoulders down and your shoulder blades rotated back and down. This will help you activate the correct muscles and not hurt yourself.

Stuff to keep in mind if you are new or haven’t done this in a while:

  • Play with your grip to see which one is easier and which one is harder.
  • Practice the harder one.
  • After a while, you can start applying more of your weight to the exercise.
  • When you feel confident, try taking your feet off the ground.
  • Try changing the shape of the bar by wrapping a towel around it or removing any hand grips that came with the bar. See which width is harder.
  • Practice the harder one.
  • Once you are able to hang for longer (feet off the ground), you can start to swing.
  • Be gentle at first and keep an eye on your shoulders. Keep them down and back, not up by your ears. This will help you keep the load off of your ligaments and put it on the muscles that we want to work instead.

I wouldn’t be the Get-Fit Guy if I didn’t give you some pointers on how to do a pull-up, would I?

Going back to where we started, as far as simply switching up the way we use our hands (and incidentally our arms, shoulders, back, and core) and also breaking the repetitive movement cycle we often get stuck in, you don’t need to go any further. But I wouldn’t be the Get-Fit Guy if I didn’t give you some pointers on how to do a pull-up, would I?

Learn To Do a Pull-Up

Pull-up Progression:

  1. Keep the bar low (around shoulder height) so you can keep your feet on the ground throughout the entire pull-up. If that is not possible, put a chair under the bar that you can stand on.
  2. Do as many “self-assisted pull-ups” as you can, then rest for 60 to 90 seconds, and go again. Do three to five sets like this a few times a week.
  3. Make sure you are always challenging yourself by switching the load from your legs to your arms more and more. Remember that the best and fastest way to build a muscle is to use it to failure, let it recover, and take it to failure again.
  4. After a few weeks, move the bar up high (or move the chair out of the way) and attempt a full body weight pull-up. Don’t be deterred if you can’t do one, simply adjust the bar back down and return to the plan.
  5. Once you can do three full body weight pull-ups, move the bar up to proper height and banish the chair. You are on your own now.
  6. Stick to the same schedule as before but do five sets of as many pull-ups as you can. Even if the last set (or two) are a single pull-up. You will start to see gains faster and faster now.
  7. Keep at it—and remember that your chin must clear the bar for it to be a real pull-up.

That’s it!

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