How to do your first Pull Up.

Many of us find doing pull-ups extremely daunting. Some of us are not even able to grip and hang on the bar, what more to do ONE pull up. Based on my experience with many clients for the past 20 years, I have to say that anyone can to do pull ups - this includes both MEN and WOMEN.

The key is progression. 

Stage 1 : Overcome Fear and Break The Mental Barrier 

You need to overcome your fear of hanging on the bar, which means you would firstly need to be able to reach your bar. Include jumping sets to touch the bar as part of your workout. You don't need to get grab the bar at this stage. 5 jumps x 3 sets. Alternatively you may want to find a low bar such that you are able to hang on it without much effort jumping up or climbing up.

Stage 2 : Hang Time

Next stage is to be able to grip and hang on the bar with an overhand or underhand grip. Do a quick hang test and count the number of seconds you can hang on the bar before letting it go. Let's say you're able to do 2 seconds max, after hanging for 2 seconds, release and let go of the bar, and gently land on your feet (bend knees and cushion your drop). Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat repeat 5 more times (5 sets). Do this 3 to 4 times a week. As you get stronger and your grip endurance improves, you may progress to do longer than 2 seconds. You'll be surprised that the week after, you be able to double or triple your initial duration. When you're able to do 30 to 60 seconds, or more you're ready for stage 3. The goal here is to firstly improve your grip strength to hold on to the bar, and then progress to endurance training or hanging on the bar for a relatively long period of time.

Stage 3 : Slight Pulls

While hanging on the bar with an underhand grip, strongly pull yourself up by bending the elbows. This may mean only one or two centimeters at first. Flex as hard as you can and hold that flexion for as long as you can. Get off the bar when you're fatique. Rest for 45 to 60 seconds and repeat 5 more times. Include this exercise at least 3 to 4 times in a week.  When you can get some reps in, you'd want to progress to overhand grip.

Strive to flex your biceps (by pulling your body up) and improve your strength/endurance. If at first you can only do 1 cm pulls, work to improve to 2 cm pulls the week after until you're able to do a full pull up!

Training with weights and bodyweight

Other than doing specific exercises such as pull-ups to improve your ability to pull yourself up ahte bar, you should also do other bodyweight exercises such as those that increase the strength of your upper body, midsection and lower body. You will also benefit a lot by going to the gym (weight training) and do exercises that involves pulling such as working out on the lat pull-down machine, seated row and doing bent over rows. Remember to do push and rotate exercises too. Since you're already at the gym, include incline pull ups or incline flex arm hang exercises to improve your endurance.

Pull ups involves a lot of muscles in the body - so don't just focus on arm and back training.

There are the exercises in the gym that you can do too, such as the assisted pull-up machine or doing pull-ups with elastic band assisting you. However I would prefer that you work more on the bar, as compared to doing those two exercises. 

Another great tool to help you improve your pull-ups is TRX. With the TRX you'll be able to strengthen your whole body at the same time.

Be patient

Rome wasn't built in a day. You need to trust the process and not be discouraged if you're unable to do a full pull up in the first few weeks. However, you'd be pleasantly surprised that you will see your results quicker than expected. You will need discipline, determination and resilience. It may take one, two, three, four months to be able to do your first pull up and yes.. you will get there!

We need to see progression every week.. for example if this week I am doing 10 seconds of arm hangs, next week I will need to do 12 seconds (or more, if that's possible).

We want to strive for success.. and any bit of progression is a little success. Many small success will lead to a big success!

Lower your bodyweight

In terms of weight, it will always help we are a little lighter than because that would mean there's less weight to pull. Watch what you eat and do shed fat off your waist. Eat 10% less this week and another 10% less next week if you are overweight.

Other ways to training for pull up

There are many other methods of successfully completing and getting your first pull up. You may want to ask your trainer about this. All the best in your quest! Feel free to text me and let me know your progress. For more information on how you can improve your pulls and information on personal training, kindly text me at 9109095 and let me know if I can assist you.

Yours in fitness,

Coach Sharm, MSc

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