For many females, this pursuit may seem endless. It is common for women to work at them for months or years without achieving even a single unassisted pull-up. This can be frustrating and disheartening.

However, when hard work and dedication pay off in the form of achieving your first unassisted pull-up, there are few greater feelings to experience.  So how do you work on achieving your first pull-up {or any other pull-up goal you may have}? Below are a few tips on mistakes I see commonly when training pull-ups, especially for women who are trying to get their first pull-up.

I was inspired to write this after experiencing my own struggles and frustrations with pull-ups, as well as hearing the struggles from other women. Several weeks ago, I was only able to perform a single pull-up, and that 1 pull-up was a struggle bus to achieve.

Instead of getting angry or disappointed with myself, I channeled my frustration into goal-setting and training.

Then, several weeks of consistent training later, I not only achieved my goal, but I was also able to perform my first ever weighted pull-up. It’s funny what you are able to achieve once you set a goal and actually train for it consistently.

Thanks to my recent pursuit, I discovered how much I actually love pull-ups. They are honestly one of my favorite things to do now, any place, any time (hence the photo above of me doing a pull-up on my nephew’s swingset!). In fact, I love them so much that I decided to write this post with a few tips to help other women achieve their first pull-up {or other pull-up goal} and to spread the pull-up love to my sisters in strength.

In addition, I will be sending out exclusive training tools and tips to my email list in a 5-day Pull-Up Pursuit Series. Make sure you sign up today to get access to this series- the first email will be sent out tomorrow.

First, let’s dive into why pull-ups are so great:

They help you feel strong and powerful. here is something empowering about being able to pull your own body up over a bar. Being able to do a pull-up is one of the coolest ways to show up in this world as an unapologetically strong woman.

They are a fundamental skill with a ton of carry-over. The strength needed to perform this skill actually carries over to many other skills. Want to play on some monkey bars at the park? No problem. Rock climbing? Absolutely! Training pull-ups makes it easier and more fun to PLAY. Something adults need to do more of anyways. Below is an example of something I never thought I would attempt- but luckily I knew I could trust my strength to hold me up!

They can help you mend your relationship with your body. Strength training is one amazing way to gradually push outside of your comfort zone and start trusting your body again. As women, we are often conditioned to have broken relationships with our bodies. Many women even feel that their bodies have betrayed them. As you work on pull-ups {or any other exercise to build strength},  the focus shifts from what your body looks like to what your body is capable of doing. With feeling stronger and focusing on what your body is capable of, you will begin to trust your body more, mending that relationship.

Now for the nitty gritty. Below are a few tips to keep in mind when training pull-ups. If you are serious about training pull-ups, I urge you to also sign up for my emails. For the next 5 days, I will be sending out a pull-up series with exclusive tips and information on pull-ups that you won’t want to miss!

Today we are going to dive into the setup for pull-ups.

Like every exercise, the setup is KEY. Failing to set up properly is setting up to fail.

1. HAND POSITION: I often see people performing pull-ups with a very wide grip. While this can serve a purpose, it is one of the most difficult ways to perform a pull-up.

I often recommend starting with a chin-up {hands facing toward you} and then working towards a regular pull-up with a grip of slightly wider than shoulder width apart  {as in the picture on the right}.

The photo on the left is demonstrating a wider grip, which makes it more difficult for beginners to get themselves over the bar. I recommend training more like the grip in the picture on the right.

2. HOLLOW BODY: Uncross your feet and keep them in front of you. I often see people bending their knees and letting them drag behind. This makes it difficult to engage your entire core, resulting in power leaks.

You can see in the photo on the left my feet are dragging behind me and my ribcage is flaring, causing a complete loss of connection between my upper and lower body and making it very difficult to engage my abdominals.

Think of a more hollow body position (As seen in the photo on the right). My abdominals are engaged, allowing me to create maximal stiffness throughout my entire body.

You should feel your upper and lower body moving together as one segment throughout each repetition.

3. GRIP: Last but definitely not least, grip that bar HARD. Proper grip is KEY to engaging all of your muscles and squeezing every ounce of muscle force out of them.

Start with wrapping your pinkies around the bar first and then follow with the rest of your hand. You should squeeze the bar as hard as you can, like you are trying to break it in half. You will feel the muscles tighten all the way up your arm into your shoulder. This is called irradiation- a GAME CHANGER with any strength exercise.

Give these a try next time you are working on your pull-ups, and let me know how they help! If you want to learn more, inclulding how to program for pull-up goals and exercises to include, sign up for my emails. The Pull-Up Pursuit Series starts tomorrow!

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