How To Do Your First Pullup

The pullup is one of the most important exercises that a newcomer to fitness can do, but its also the most difficult and many of you cant do a single pullup. Here I give you a 5 phase program to build up your strength so you can do 8 solid pullups. Man or woman, 13 or 80, you can do it!

First, a quick word about weight. There are lots of reasons to get leaner and lose fat and I’m about to give you another one. The #1 way to make pullups easier is to weigh less! Every pound of fat is a boat anchor holding you tightly to the earth, dump that anchor overboard! Please read my article, losing weight and getting sixpack abs is as easy as 1-2-3!

Some important terminology before we start. A pullup is when your palms point away from your face, these are hard. A chin-up is done with you palms facing you – these are easier. We will use this fact to help us build up to doing eight pullups.

This weeks video is not for hardcore bodybuilders, its for people trying to do their first pullup and build up to eight honest pullups:

OK, how to do your first pullup. There are four methods:

    1. chair method (anywhere)
    2. bands under knees method (anywhere)
    3. partner knee spot (anywhere)
    4. cable pulldowns (gym only)

The only one I will show is the chair method because its my favorite. Lets get started. Getting yourself up is hard, its a lot easier to just lower yourself slowly down and that’s what we are going to do to build up strength. We also are going to start with chin-up instead of pullups for the same reason. The first exercise you will do to build up your pullup strength is an exercise I have named “Walk the Plank”.

“Walk The Planks”
1. Put a chair under your pullup bar that’s tall enough so it puts your eyes at bar level.
2. Grab the bar with an underhand grip (palms facing you) shoulder width apart
3. Tense your muscles and step off the chair (walk the plank!)
4. Lower yourself as slowly as you can.
5. Step back up onto the chair and do it again, repeat a total of 8 times

Now lets look at how we use the “Walk The Plank” exercise to build up to doing 8 real pullups. If you can already do 2 good chinups, skip to Phase 4.

Phase 1

5 sets of chinup (palms facing your face) Walk-The-Plank’s, 8 reps per set, one minute rest between sets. Workout every other day.

Continue with Phase 1 till you can do it so slowly that it takes 2 seconds to lower yourself each time.

Phase 2

5 sets of pullup (palms pointed away from your face) Walk-The-Plank’s, 8 reps per set, one minute rest between sets. Workout every other day.

Continue with Phase 2 till you can do it so slowly that it takes 2 seconds to lower yourself each time.

Phase 3

5 sets. On first two reps, do as much of a real chinup as you can, followed by 6 reps of Walk-The-Planks. Workout every other day. One minute rest between sets.

Continue with Phase 3 until you can do two real chinups!


Phase 4 – Monday Workout

5 sets. Do as many real chinups as you can, followed by enough Walk-The-Planks to give you 8 total reps One minute rest between sets.

Phase 4 – Thursday Workout

Do as many real chinups as you can, and then a static hold for as long as you can. Rest 2 minutes and do next set for a total of 5 sets.

Continue Phase 4 till you can do 8 chinups

Phase 5 – Thursday Workout

5 sets. Do as many real pullups as you can, followed by enough Walk-The-Planks to give you 8 total reps One minute rest between sets.

Phase 5 – Thursday Workout

Do as many real pullups as you can, and then a static hold for as long as you can. Rest 2 minutes and do next set for a total of 5 sets.

Continue Phase 5 till you can do 8 pullups!

There you have it, my 5 phase method to build up your strength so you can do 8 pullups!

How To Do A Pullup

Please read complete articles:

Pullups For Total Beginners

13 thoughts on “How To Do Your First Pullup”

  1. Hey! So I was wondering is this suitable for women, with the repetitions and consecutive days? I’ve still got aches and pains from the first time and its 2 days later, should I still try it? Thanks!

  2. Scooby, thanks for the awesome site!
    Just have one question.

    I’ve been on the gym for 4 months and I’ve done weightlifting before and all that stuff, i CANNOT do one single pullup (I used to back when i was in high school but now i am 30 lbs overweight) . Although, i can do pushups properly…would you still suggest me trying the beginner’s workout or mix it up a little bit?

  3. Thanks for the great video – am doing this as part of the Beginner Workout. One question – about halfway through my second set, my “slowly lowering” time quickly drops to 0 seconds (i.e., I am essentially falling straight to an arm hang) Am I still getting anything out of the exercise if I continue, or does that mean I have hit failure and should stop that set, or do I instead need to switch to some other sort of assisted decline?

  4. I am just starting phase 5 and am so excited – being able to do 8 chinups seemed impossible 5 months ago, now I can. Really looking forward to being able to do the pullups too. Your site made weight training accessible, too, and it has changed my life, I’m working out 3-4 times a week, stronger, healthier… danke Scooby. :)

  5. Cool, Scoobinator, thanks for the tip. I used to be able to do 24 full arm pull ups and now I can just manage a couple. Wondering if there is a back warning. Seems one can arch the back easily and unnecessarily strain it.

  6. Hey scooby, what's the "correct" way of doing exercise for intermediate level with gaining weight/bulking up goal?
    to do them round robin style (finish all exercise for one set then repeat the process) or is it better to complete 1 exercise and then move on to the next?

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