Pull-ups are tough. Most people avoid them all together because it can be embarrassing to look foolish to try and just hang from the bar.
But just because you can not perform a pull-up does not mean you should avoid the exercise all together. The pull-up is one of the best exercises you can do for back strength and is a fundamental movement that everyone should be able to do .
In order to get yourself up on the bar, it requires a different approach than just pulling yourself up and trying more. Sure, practice will help develop stronger muscles, but you will peak fast and more often then not get frustrated and give up.
It took me nearly three months of hard work and discipline in the Marines to get myself to do 20 or more.
3 Ways To Master Your First Pull-up
While the lat pull down can be a great exercise for back development, it does not have a large carry over to true strength and getting to your first pull-up. The following variations will help develop grip strength and give you confidence to get up on that bar. Try these movements at the start of a workout when your body is fresh and you are the strongest.
Box Assisted Chin-Up
The box assisted chin-up is an exercise I started using a lot more recently with my clients. What I have found is that if you teach people how to do partial chin-ups it gives them the confidence to get on the bar and actually feel what it is like to pull the body weight up. Try not to swing when jumping up on the box. As you get stronger you can decrease the height between the box and bar to make the movement more difficult.
The eccentric portion of a lift is great for bullet proofing the joints and building strength. Stand on a box or bench to hop up on the bar and lower yourself for around six seconds. Once your arms are full extended, hop back up and repeat.
Band Assisted Chin-up
Probably one of the most butchered forms of assisted pull-ups in the gym as a lot of trainees sling shot themselves into the air and pick the wrong type of band to help them. The band assisted chin-up allows the body to take advantage the strength curve because as the body gets closer the bar it requires less assistance from the band. You can also select different levels of bands to help at different strength curves.
Your 8 Week Pull-up Plan
Set A Assisted 2-3 Sets of 8-10 Reps
Front Plank x 30 Seconds
Set B Eccentric Chin-ups 2-3 Sets of 5 Seconds
Band Assisted Chin-ups 3 Sets of 4-6 Reps
Eccentric Chin-ups 3 Sets of 5 Seconds
Putting It All Together
As with any exercise that you are not good at, the more you do something the better you will get. Pull-ups are tough, but if you train smart they do not have to be that way. Try different variations each training session and take note on how you begin to feel and progress. Use the protocol above for guidance and listen to your body to see what works best. Most importantly have fun with training and do not get frustrated.