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Can you do a pull-up?

Author: Oksana Aron, MD Source: Weight Loss NYC May 24, 2021

Lift your own bodyweight

Perhaps pushups haven’t happened for you since high school gym class, so how about pull-ups?

Developing body strength doesn’t have to be hard — ease into developing your strength with some simple progressions. No need to rush through the series, focus on proper posture and slow steady movement to maximize control and strenght building.

Keep things easy for yourself as getting hurt is never the goal. Find the method that works best for you here and follow it for several weeks until it is no longer a challenge. Of course you can mix things up if want to make your own routine.

Start simple

  1. Wall pullup Standing feet flat, with your body in a straight line, hold a vertical handrail you can perform a sideways pullup! Try for 50, and when you can master 3 sets you can advance to next level (if you wish):
  2. Chest-height pullup Moving from vertical to an angle gives you more weight resistance for your arms. Find a sturdy handrail about chest height. Pivoting on your heels, go for 30 angled pullups with the bar. When 3 sets are easy you can advance:
  3. Hip-height pullup Finding a lower bar around hip height gives you a steeper angle to work against thus more body weight to lift, though still not full weight. Ideally work with something strong enough to support your full weight (video shows some dubious examples) as chest and hip points are just height guidelines. You can work with whatever angle you have and are comfortable working with. For hip height, aim for sets of 25, with 3 full sets as your final goal.
  4. Jackknife pullups Finally moving now from angle to vertical, analagous to kneeling pushups, you can now work from what resembles a seating angle (though not sitting!) and lifting your weight up. Optionally, can place feet on a chair instead of floor. Note as with kneeled pushups you are still distributing weight via a partial leg angle on the ground. Pivoting on your heels, your body starts bent and then straightens out (resembling chest-height position above), hence the name. Target is again sets of 25, with mastery of 3 to advance.

    Upgrades: Can lift one leg at a time during pullup to increase proportion of body weight. See if you can lift your full weight from this angled position.

Full time

You did it! Now that you are here, you now can try just doing one set of three regular pullups, to develop core and not overdo it.

Can try overhand or underhand grips, and other variations to make for a more versatile workout, or rotating arms and shoulders too to work different muscle groups.

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