Pullup Progression: How To Do Your First Pullup

In a previous article, 6 Ways To Increase Your Pullup Number, we covered how to increase your number of pullups. However, there are a great many people who cannot perform a single pullup, so in this article, we’re going to cover exactly what you need to do to get to your first one through pullup progression!

pullup image

1. Work On Generic Back Strength

Lat Pulldown Pullup Progression Image

The inability to perform a pullup can be caused by a lack of strength in your back. While increasing back strength is not the most important factor in getting you to a pullup, it will help. The most important part of doing a pullup, is practice. To increase back strength, perform exercises such as barbell/dumbell rows, cable rows, and most importantly, lat pulldowns. The last exercise is the closest to the movement in a pullup, but it’s still different.

2. Negatives

Negatives are a great way to work up to doing a pullup. A negative is where you only perform the eccentric – the lowering part of the movement. The goal is to move as slowly as possible. The way this works as part of the pullup progression, is that you are ingraining the plane of motion in reverse. Not only that, but as time goes on, you’ll be able to move slower and slower, then be able to hold yourself in position, then even start to pull yourself up.

3. Vary the angle

Starting with horizontal pullups, and increasing the angle more and more over time is another great way to work up to a pullup. I used to not be able to do a single one, even though I was at my lightest weight. This is all I did to work up to pullups, and it worked. As you increase the angle, the difficulty increases, but you will be getting constantly used to it, and improving.

4. Assisted Pullups

This is probably one of the best ways to work your pullup progression. There are many different types of assisted pullups. One, is using an assisted pullup machine. Another is simply having someone assist you. The best way though, is band assisted pullups. To set it up, wrap a band around the safety bars in a power rack, stand on it, and perform pullups, with the bands elasticity helping you. This is the best option as it mimics the motion of a pullup the closest. It’s also incredibly easy to progress. All you need to do, is lower the bars that you’re attaching the band to, to lower how much it helps.

5. Do All Of The Above

Do all of the above as part of your pullup progression. Some tips from the other article linked above on how to do more pullups are also helpful:


  • Greasing The Groove

    Do these pullup progression exercises as often as possible every day, without reaching muscular fatigue.


  • Lose Weight

    Losing weight will make it a lot easier, as you won’t be pulling up as much weight.


  • Use Your Lats

    Your Lats are the primary mover of the pullup, so make sure you;re focusing on using them.


  • Increase Grip Strength

    If you can’t grip it, you can’t lift it. As a result, the stronger your grip, the stronger you are overall, and it will be easier to do a pullup.

Following these 5 tips will definitely get you to performing your first pullup. Pullup progression only takes a relatively short time, and once you can do a pullup, you can move onto being able to increase your reps.

Blade Montane

Avid bodybuilder turned powerlifter, my passions are all around fitness and health, and sharing my knowledge with the masses.

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