BrittanyPullup

The Only Three Reasons You Still Can’t Do A Pull-Up
Written by Calvin Sun

Have you been doing CrossFit for a year or longer yet figuring out how to do a pull-up still eludes you? I’m not talking about hanging from a pull-up bar while slung from a giant rubber band and having a violent seizure that somehow results in your chin almost touching the bar. I’m referring to the ability to perform an unassisted, strict, dead-hang pull-up that starts with your arms fully extended and your chin clearly over the bar. If this sounds like someone you know, one (or some combination) of these three issues are probably the reason why you still haven’t developed the ability to perform a pull-up.

1. You Haven’t Focused On Developing Strength

Jumping pull-ups and banded kipping pull-ups are the most commonly used substitutions for anyone who doesn’t already have a pull-up. While these substitutions might be adequate in a conditioning workout to keep you moving and your heart rate elevated, I haven’t found these methods to be effective in developing the strength necessary to perform a proper pull-up. Keep in mind that a substitution or scaled movement is not the same as a progression. A proper exercise progression is designed to develop your ability, not act as a placeholder so that you can get a metcon-induced endorphin rush.

My recommendation is to focus on developing upper body pulling strength outside of your conditioning workouts. I typically prescribe a combination of isometric holds, pull-up negatives, and accessory work to improve scapular stability. While there are many generalized progressions available online, you’ll see the best results if you work directly with a skilled coach to build a pull-up progression that’s tailored to your unique needs. A good coach will be able to assess your current level of strength, mobility, and identify any functional movement issues you may have and design a progression that will efficiently progress you to a proper pull-up.

2. You’re Injured

If you are suffering from a torn rotator cuff, a shoulder impingement, AC separation, or any other type of upper extremity injury, the solution should be pretty obvious. Seek out the care of a licensed medical professional such as an orthopedic surgeon or physical therapist. Diagnosing and treating injuries are outside the scope of practice for personal trainers and fitness coaches so you’ll have to seek out a qualified practitioner to rehabilitate your injury.

Of course, prevention is the best medicine. Skipping past strength development and jumping right to learning kipping and butterfly pull-ups can be a highly effective method for injuring an upper extremity. The dynamic nature of kipping and butterfly pull-ups demands increased stability and strength throughout the shoulder in order to be performed safely. As I mentioned earlier, work on developing competency in your strict pull-ups before worrying about learning kipping or butterfly variations.

3. Your Strength To Bodyweight Ratio Needs Improvement

Maybe you’re not injured and you’ve put in some time and effort to develop a strength base. You feel confident if cleans, presses, or squats are a part of your workout. Yet the pull-up, and most other body weight exercises like handstand push-ups, ring dips, and muscle-ups, are yet to be mastered. CrossFit has forged you into 185 pounds of sinewy, pull-up potential. Unfortunately, you still weigh 250 pounds. As we’ve discussed on the blog in the past, you can’t out train a poor diet. If you’re a male and your body fat percentage is north of 18%, consider looking at your nutritional approach. Ladies, the same advice applies to you if your body fat percentage is 25% or higher. Take a look at your nutrition and make sure that your food intake aligns with your goals.

Make it a goal to achieve your first strict pull-up within a set time frame. Depending on what you need to overcome, three to six months should be plenty of time for you to perform your first rep. Figure out which of these reasons is preventing you from already having a strict pull-up and then work with an expert to come up with an action plan to get there.

Still have questions? Feel free to post them here on the blog or on our Facebook page.

Further Reading:

Follow The Steps: Don’t Be Too Eager To Progress

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Google

We like to honor several other internet web sites on the internet, even when they aren’t linked to us, by linking to them. Under are some webpages really worth checking out.

HomeMart
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HomeMart

This will be one of the best way to make better your body upper part. HomeMart provides Pull up bar nz in Auckland with fatest home delievery.

Kelvin Okyere
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Kelvin Okyere

Good article! Pull ups is indeed very hard to do for a lot of us and it is because we don’t perform the exercise often. I recently bought a home workout device that supports push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups and tricep dips. Its helped me become stronger because i do pulls every second i get at home and now i am able to do 30 pull ups in a row. This device is very cool, check it out here http://tinyurl.com/ybsa3z72

Edgar @ GarageGymPlanner
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Edgar @ GarageGymPlanner

Pull up bars are the best upper body workout tool at home as they give you a complete workout using our own body weight.

Rancid Trombone
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Rancid Trombone

1. You’re weak.
2. You’re broke.
3. You’re fat.

Mike
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Mike

I’m 3 for 3.

Antonio Gabrić
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Antonio Gabrić

Pull up is one of the best exercise a human body can do. It is a compound exercise and hits almost whole body. My recommendation to people who can perform their first pull up to work on pushing strength. Why pushing strength? Because when you’re doing a pushing exercises, you work on the same muscles that are involved in a pull up movement. So, when you strengthen these muscles you’ll be sure be able to do a pull up.

Interesting page. Keep doing a great work.

Mark Studbar
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Mark Studbar

Can’t argue with the power of the pull up. I installed a pull up bar in my garage. Standing rule: I do 10 reps every time I walk underneath it to get inside my house. http://www.studbarpullup.com

Stef Watters
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Stef Watters

Never been able to do pull ups myself,couldnt do the monkey bars either because id let go with my back hand to bring it forward and id fall because I lost my grip was never into sport as a kid,same now Im 38 now. Whats the best way to get fat off my legs,stomach and chest then? Ive always had issues with my build im about 16 stone (over 15 anyway) and 5 ft something in height,Im not sure how tall I am I know its over 5 foot and under 6 foot lol .

Jeannie Ruiz
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Jeannie Ruiz

cut the Carb intake and your excess weight will melt away

Carl Segermark
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Carl Segermark

Love this Blog! Improving grip strength can be a huge factor in increasing your number of pull ups. Using a rolling bar can bump up your reps. A rolling bar forces you to fight to stay on and works your forearms harder than a standard bar. It’s tough but do it for 6 weeks than try a regular pull bar again and see how much stronger you have become. You can make one by hanging a bar from chains or check out revolutionbarfitness.com

Verônica Flamenco
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Verônica Flamenco

I master 5 strict pull ups and 3 butterfly ones in a row, however, I feel I’ve reached a dead end here, because can’t seem to increase my butterfly pull ups without getting too tired (within a metcon for ex) or without reaching my chin above the bar past those 3…any tips or suggestions?? Thanks.

Calvin Sun
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Calvin Sun

How many kipping pull-ups can you do in a row?

Verônica Flamenco
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Verônica Flamenco

Hi Calvin, I do up to 15 in a row

Calvin Sun
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Calvin Sun

I would recommend that you build up your kipping pull-up capacity a bit more… 25 to 30 reps would be a good goal. Also, work on strict and kipping chest-to-bar pull-ups. You might also want to consider incorporating some scap work like Trap 3 Raises, Powell Raises, Bat Wings, etc.

Verônica Flamenco
Guest
Verônica Flamenco

Thank you so much for your advice, will definitely start working on these tips!

Lloyd Moore
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Lloyd Moore

A better approach would be to build up shorter sets. You could do 2 pull ups, rest, 2 pull ups, rest and so on, then build on this over the coming weeks until to you can do multiple sets of 3 for 5 sets, and so on.

santhosh kumar
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santhosh kumar

Hi friends..I can’t do even a single pull up.. More than 1 month im trying in gym..what’s the problem and solutions?

wc3
Guest
wc3

Have you tried negatives? Where you get up to the bar and hold it there as long as you can. I’m sure there is a better explanation somewhere but that is the idea of it…

Verônica Flamenco
Guest
Verônica Flamenco

Yes, I’ve tried that before but honestly, had stopped doing it-shame on me- I remember holding to the bar for 1 minute…that was a while ago. Will go back to it for sure. Thanks a lot!