How to Get Your First Pull-Up

Getting your first unassisted pull-up is a big deal. To be able to pull your body weight up to get your chin over the bar using only your own raw strength…that’s bad ass, pretty exciting, and a goal of many. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I’ll never get a pull-up. I have no upper body strength,” you’ve come to the right place because you absolutely can do a pull-up. It’ll take consistent work and effort, but if you’re willing to put in the time and energy, you’ll be knocking out pull-ups like it’s nobody’s business.

Scaling a Pull-up

Ring Rows

A great place to start building the pulling strength needed for a pull-up is by doing ring rows. Ring rows gives you the full pulling range of motion as with a pull-up but removes some of the load because your feet are still on the floor, so you’re not lifting your entire body weight. Add 2-3 sets of 10 ring rows to your workout before or after class a few times a week, and soon you’ll be ready to move on to…

Jumping Pull-ups

When to the point that you’re flying through ring rows with ease, try moving to the pull-up bar for some jumping pull-ups. For this variation, you’ll need a box placed under the pull-up bar. The box should be at a height that allows you to stand on it with arms extended while hanging onto the bar with your legs bent, ready to jump. Jump your chin over the bar and return to arms extended between each rep. Again, if you can sneak a few sets of these in 2-3 times a week, you’ll start to see your strength increase!

Banded Pull-ups

For banded pull-ups, nix the box and instead use a band. Loop the band around the pull-up bar, throw one foot in and let the band assist in getting your chin over the bar. Start with a wider band and as you get stronger, swap out that thicker band for a smaller one. And then a smaller one…and then a smaller one. Challenge yourself! It’s easy to get stuck in “banded pull-up world” and never push yourself out of it. Don’t settle! You set a goal, and that goal is ready to be smashed!

Unassisted Pull-up

This is it! Once you’ve worked your way down to the smallest band, it’s time to give that unassisted pull-up a go. If you don’t get it on your first try, DON’T GIVE UP! Jump back on that small band for a couple more weeks, and then give it another try! Calculated persistence will get you everywhere when it comes to hitting your fitness goals.


Ready to start working on getting your first pull-up? Talk to one of our SISU coaches! They would be so pumped to help. Why? Because at some point each one the coaches also had to work hard to get their first pull-up, so they get it and would love nothing more than to be a part of helping you reach that goal!