Increase Pull Ups – Guide To Doing Your First Pull Up And Then 20 More

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Increase Pull Ups In this guide you will find useful information on how to increase pull ups, which can be applied to your training whether you can already do 20, or have yet to perform a single one.

For those who cannot already do pull ups, stick around, I’ll explain further down how you can work towards doing your very first one in a relatively short amount of time. For those who can already do a handful of pull ups but seemed to have hit a plateau for a while now, or are just looking to add more reps to their max, or maybe even move on to a more difficult pulling progression or use additional weight, there are many ways and programs dedicated to improving and adding to the amount of pull ups you can effectively do but we will oversee the most efficient ones for rapid and satisfying results.


The best exercises to increase pull ups

The scapula pull

It is critically important to have proper scapular stability and positioning overhead to maintain a great technique throughout the entire range of motion and will immensely impact how many pull ups you can do. Everyone should be able to draw their shoulders down and back properly, initiating the movement correctly and making optimal use of the Latissimus Dorsi and other mid back muscles.

Keep your elbows locked out and aim to pull your shoulder blades back and squeeze them together. You may then release, and start again with a slow and controlled movement. Really take your time to pause at the top portion of the movement, and hold the position, feeling the stress in your lower trapezius and rhomboids. Maintain a hollow body position.



A great way of improving the number of pull ups you can do is to determine where you are weakest in the pull up’s range of motion. Perform a set to failure, doing as many pull ups as you can and see if at your very last rep you fail on the lower or upper portion of the movement. If you failed to lock the pull up out and get your chin above the bar, you need to get stronger in the upper portion of the movement. If you got to the bottom portion of the pull and could not for the life of you pull back up, you need to get stronger at the bottom portion of the movement.

Frenchies are a common exercise among rock climbers which involves building further strength and endurance through a combination of concentrics, eccentrics, and isometrics ( holding a static position).

As explained in the excellent video above by FitnessFAQs, the exercise can be dissected into 8 separate phases:

  1. Pull up to top position and hold for 5 seconds
  2. Lower to dead hang
  3. Pull up to top position
  4. Lower to 90 degrees and hold for 5 seconds
  5. Lower to dead hang
  6. Pull up to top position
  7. Lower to a straight arm scapulae engaged position and hold for 5 seconds
  8. Lower to dead hang

Isometrics are a proven powerful method of gaining strength and breaking past plateaus when needed, try them and see you results skyrocket.


Slow eccentrics 

Not used as often as the previous two methods cited above, but they are effective and ought to be a part of your training if your goal is to increase your maximum number of pull ups. Whatever level of training you may find yourself at, there is always a way of scaling these to be difficult enough for you to keep progressing with slow eccentrics.

Be sure to go down as slowly and controlled as you can. If you can take 5 seconds to complete a rep, do that. If you can take 10 seconds, do that instead, if you can hold it for more than a minute, then by all means do ! The aim here is to go down as slow as YOU can. Once you’ve done a rep, jump back up into the top position and proceed to do more eccentrics for sets of 3 to 5 reps.

You can start with 3 sets of 3 reps and then add either more reps or more sets every week.

Australian pull ups/bodyweight row

Another awesome exercise to add to list, the Australian pull up or bodyweight row (according to how different people call it), will allow you to build strength and a horizontal plane of movement so that you can perform better in the vertical plane of movement.

To increase the difficulty, you can place yourself close to the anchor point if you are using gymnastics rings, or just add weight if you are using a low pull up bar set up. You can also do archer ring rows and if even those are too easy for you, jump straight to tuck rows as demonstrated below, where you will progress towards front lever rows.

Getting stronger in this particular plane will help you tremendously in terms of pulling strength, power, and endurance, and will get you well on your way to doing more pull ups.


What if you can’t yet do a single pull up ?

If you don’t have the strength to do pull up yet, or can barely manage a single ugly repetition, slow eccentrics and bodyweight rows are excellent exercises to get you stronger. Be patient and give it time but more importantly, remain consistent as progress will come at varying paces and sticking to a single routine for a while is essential to start seeing results.

No one can tell you exactly HOW long it will take you as everybody is different and it really depends on so many different factors. But if you do the exercises mentioned above as part of a routine and stick to them for a few months, you will see great results.


Increase pull ups – conclusion

Gradually increase the number of sets and reps every week; you want to have constant progressive overload. Follow these exercises patiently and you should start seeing results rather quickly-although speed is really not what we are going for, real and tangible strength improvements are.

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