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The Pull-up…. A movement on the goal list of nearly every novice crossfitter. The pull-up has often been referred to as “the squat of the upper body,” due to its immense training effect and ability to predict overall physical performance. What we would like to lay out is an incredibly detailed progression/regression with which you can build your pull-up prowess. First a couple notes:
The single most important factor in achieving pull-ups (for MOST people) is…… BODY COMPOSITION
If you are not yet lean, and carrying around a fair amount of body fat (~>13% males ~>19% Females) Pull-ups will be EXPONENTIALLY harder, and for the most part impossible to obtain. As a result attention to diet is the single most important factor for many who struggle with pull-ups (refer to our nutrition articles for more information there!)
The second most important consideration during your pull-up journey is whether or not your shoulder range of motion will allow you to kip. THIS test will determine if you are “eligible” to learn the kip. If you cannot fully complete this test, kipping is not for you yet, and until range of motion is restored strict movements will be the default.
With those two things said, here is a progression anyone can use over time to build pull-up strength. Once you can complete a step a to perfection you are eligible to move to the next, these drills can be practiced almost daily (EXCEPT eccentrics… 2-3x/wk there), the higher the frequency the better.
1) 1 Min Dead Hang
2) :30 Chin Over Bar Hold w/ Black band
3) :30 Chin Over Bar Hold w/ Green band
4) :30 Chin Over Bar Hold
5) 15 Second Eccentric (lowering) Pull-up from top w/ Black Band (time spread evenly through whole movement)
6) 20 Second Eccentric (lowering) Pull-up from top w/ Green Band (time spread evenly through whole movement)
7) 5 PERFECT Reps From Dead start w/ Black Band (>150lbs BW) Green Band (<150 lbs BW) @ knee
8) :30 Bent Arm (90 Degree) Hold w/ Green Band
9) :30 Bent Arm (90 Degree) Hold
10) 10 Perfect Reps From Deadstart w/ Green Band (>150lbs BW) Blue Band (<150 lbs BW) @ foot
11) AT this point you should be able to hit 1-3 strict Pullups! … From there
12) 75 Strict Pull-ups / Wk (outside of class time)
13) 100 Strict Pullups/ Wk (outside of class time)
14) 150 Strict Pullups/ Wk (outside of class time)
15) 200 Strict Pullups/ Wk (outside of class time)
16) If eligible… Practice Kip. Repeat steps 12-15 w/ kip, making sure you do not exceed given number in a week before building up.
17) Repeat steps 12-15 with STRICT Chest to Bar Pull-ups
18) Repeat steps 12-15 with KIPPING C2B Pull-Ups
19) Practice Butterfly pull-up… Another story for another day!
Make sure you keep this order! You must take all steps in order, DO NOT JUMP AROUND! Let us know if you have any questions, and good luck in your pull-up journey!
Accessory Exercises to help build pull-up strength! (complete each of these 2-3x/wk with your above steps!)
Trap -3 Raise…VIDEO
Chest-Supported DB Row….VIDEO
Fat Grip Curls (Yep Curls! Especially ladies!)
Go forth and destroy the pulls!