How Many Pull-ups Should I Be Able To Do?

What The Experts Say About How Many Pull Ups You Should Be Able To Do: Including Official And Unofficial Pull Up Standards, Average Pull Up Test Results, The Latest World Records, And More (Plus, A Free Program To Help You Do More Pull-ups!)

how many pull ups should i be able to do?

How many pull ups should you be able to do? And how many pull ups is good? This post will show how you stack up and give you a good goal to aim for.

If you want to be a United States Marine, you have to perform at least 3 pull-ups (i.e. males only, for now). That’s a minimum passing grade. If you want to be a U.S. Army Ranger, you have to perform at least 6 pull-ups (12+ is recommended). And if you want to be a Navy SEAL, you have to perform a minimum of 8 reps to get into BUD/S training, but 15-20+ reps is recommended, and necessary if you want to be competitive among your class mates. Those are some good general standards for soldiers who need a broad base of fitness in a lot of different categories.

Of course, if you specialize in calisthenics or even just strength training, you can blow these numbers out of the water. You’ve got guys like the Barstarzz knocking out sets of 20, 30, even 50 pull-ups at a time. And a quick Youtube search will reveal some dudes who can do quite a bit more than that (like some of these guys). I know a handful of guys who have nailed 40, even 50+ pull-ups in one go (like my colleague, Hugo Rivera).

But how many pull-ups should the average man or woman be able to do, and how many pull-ups is good? This post will answer those questions.

How many pull ups can the average man (or woman) do?

The short answer: We don’t really know because there are so many different sources of conflicting information. But here’s what we do know…

Our fitness levels have declined dramatically over the past several decades. We just aren’t as fit as we used to be. As a result, some organizations have either lowered their standards or even dropped pull-ups completely from their lineup of fitness tests so that nobody’s feelings get hurt. And I’m sure you all know how I feel about that!

Fortunately, the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition has some standards we can go by (Source):

Children – 6-12 years of age should be able to perform between 1-2 pull-ups (i.e. 50th percentile).

Teens – boys 13-18 years of age should be able to perform between 3-8 pull-ups (i.e. 50th percentile, and the older you are, the more reps you have to do to keep up with the average), and girls 13-18 years of age should be able to perform 1 pull-up or a 5-9 second flexed arm hang.

Adults – Data for adults is harder to come by, but my research has led me to conclude the following. Men should be able to perform at least 8 pull-ups, and 13-17 reps is considered fit and strong. And women should be able to perform between 1-3 pull-ups, and 5-9 reps is considered fit and strong.

We also have some data from the Candidate Fitness Assessment, which is used to determine the fitness levels of those seeking to enter the U.S. military.

According to the CFA, the average number of pullups performed by men is nine and by women is three. Men who are able to perform 18 consecutive pullups and women who can perform seven are considered to possess a high level of fitness. (Source)

Keep in mind that military candidates likely have some physical training under their belt and will probably perform better than the average Joe or Jane.

how many pull ups is good - marine doing pull ups

Also, an informal and very unscientific survey on revealed that roughly half of all males can do between 1-5 pull-ups, a quarter of them can do between 6-10 reps, and the other quarter can do more than 10 reps. (Source) In other words, being able to do more than 10 reps is pretty rare these days.

And of course, many a debate has been started in forums all around the web where keyboard warriors like to point out how many pull-ups they can do when they’re not typing so fast.

how many pull ups should i be able to do - woman doing pull-ups at the gym

The Bottom Line

Regardless of your thoughts on these so-called “official” pull-up standards from the experts and armchair quarterbacks alike, here are two important things to keep in mind.

1) Generally, men can do more pull-ups than women because men have more muscle mass, and especially in their upper body.

Tim Hewitt, the director of sports medicine research at Ohio State University, has explained that MRI studies have shown that “women have about 40 percent less upper-body mass than men do…This means that, in general, a woman’s natural upper body is only about 50 to 60 percent as strong as a man’s” (Source). Thus, the disparity between pull-up scores. Of course, women CAN do pull-ups, too (click here for some proof). And many women do them better than most men can. It all depends on your training, which brings me to my next point.

2) Regardless of your age or gender, you can do as many pull-ups as you want – within certain limits – if you train for them.

The bottom line is that you can work up to doing as many pull-ups as you want to. It just depends on how hard you’re willing to work. That’s the greatest contributing factor. I’ve known many men and women who can blow the numbers listed above out of the water. So, don’t let the averages put a cap on your potential. Speaking of which…

John Sifferman’s Totally Unofficial Pull-up Standards

Now, allow me to present my very own pull-up standards. I am the author of The Pull-up Solution, after all. And that’s got to count for something.


The Pull-up Solution by John SiffermanNewbie = 1st unassisted pull-up
Beginner = 2-5 repetitions
Intermediate = 6-10 repetitions
Advanced = 11-15 repetitions
Expert = 16-20 repetitions
Master = 21-25 repetitions
Wicked Sick = 26-30 repetitions
Superhuman = 30+ repetitions
Olympian = 40+ repetitions
Pull-up Immortal = 50+ repetitions


Newbie = 1st unassisted pull-up
Beginner = 2-3 repetitions
Intermediate = 4-6 repetitions
Advanced = 7-9 repetitions
Expert = 10-12 repetitions
Master = 13-16 repetitions
Wicked Sick = 17-20 repetitions
Superhuman = 21-24 repetitions
Olympian = 25-29 repetitions
Pull-up Immortal = 30+ repetitions

Note: these standards are for strict, deadhang pull-ups, not kipping pull-ups, which is an entirely different exercise.

Also note: I have also posted my weighted pull-up standards in this post here, for those interested.

John’s Recommendation: I think that an ultimate goal of 15-20 reps for men and 8-12 reps for women are ambitious, yet very achievable targets for most people.

World Records For The Most Consecutive Pull-ups Without Dismounting From The Bar

Male: Jan Kareš from the Czech Republic who did 232 pull-ups on the 19th of June in 2010. – Source

Female: Irina Rudometkina from the USA who did 48 pull-ups on the 18th of December in 2014. – Source

Note: I posted a little commentary on Irina’s achievement here.

How Many Pull-ups Can YOU Do? (SURVEY)

how many pull ups can the average man do

MEN: How many strict, deadhang pull-ups can you do in one set?

View Results

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how many pull ups can the average woman do

WOMEN: How many strict, deadhang pull-ups can you do in one set?

View Results

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Not that you care, but here’s a fairly recent video of me doing 30 pull-ups, which gives me a solid “Wicked Sick” rating. I was trying to tie my all-time PR of 31 reps, which would have squeaked me into the Superhuman category. But unfortunately, that last rep didn’t count!

So, what’s the highest amount of pull-ups you’ve ever done in one set? Let us know in the comments below!

Want to do more pull-ups?

Could I interest you in a complete 3-month pull-up workout program that has helped thousands of people increase their pull-up numbers using a unique twist on pull-up training? Oh, and did I mention it’s free? Check it out…

Click Here to Sign up For my FREE

5-Day Pull-up Training Crash Course

5-day pull-up training crash course

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61 Responses

    • John

      I hear ya, Anthony! Pull-ups were a lot easier when I was a good 20-30 pounds lighter. I really have to earn those reps now.

      And hey, 10 reps is a solid number for pull-ups. Keep up the good work.

  1. Avinash mishra

    Four months back ,i started doing pull ups with max 8 reps now i m doing 15-20 reps and 22 is my max reps… I guess its a good progress.. Still working hard to get to the 50 reps milestone…and its really a good exercise unlike other guys i enjoy doing pulls never take it as a burden….

  2. Jeffrey

    I really love doing pull ups best exercise and of course you can incorporate your entire body with lots of different exercises on the bar. I have been doing pull ups for about 5 months I really don’t concentrate on doing high rep sets a lot even though I can do them but since I like to do a lot of pull ups I spread them out in smaller sets of 5 – 8 reps depending on how I feel. The good thing is I have really worked my endurance up where I can do sets like this all day and of course I still throw in higher sets. So right now I am working on getting my muscle up down I am just having some issues in the transition with it but with all things pull up related it takes time to develop strength and technique. I would still consider myself a newbie it really takes several years experience at an activity to truly master it but for me it is really enjoyable and the benefits have been astounding for me.

  3. Pablo

    I can do 17 and I’m 15 years old and 120 pounds, around what percentile would I be at? Also do you have any tips for me to reach 20?

  4. Andrew

    I am 17 180 pounds and can do 26 is that good and how would I improve that number

  5. Randy

    In the 60’s in high school gym class weighing 110 pounds with the coach and everyone trying to discount every rep I was able to do I managed 90 chin-ups (by the coach’s count). I was the skinny nerd that was gonna be a rock star so I worked out with weights and pushups in my Dad’s basement at least twice a day, seven days a week so I would be able to play guitar all night. I couldn’t catch or throw a ball, or play any sport. Now I’m almost almost 67 years old; weigh 168 pounds, still never been a rock star although I can still play for many hours when the occasion arises. Haven’t been in a gym since high school and I haven’t worked out at home since I was in my early 20’s. Yesterday against my 34 year old son I found I could only crank out 10 (I HAD to tie him and my last few were sloppy). My lungs are damaged from a lung infection in my mid twenties which limits my endurance. Wondering if there is any chance for me to return to my glory days?

  6. Ann S

    I worked my way up to 8 while weighing about 150 pounds, and I’m feeling very good about it. I’ve had a goal of doing 10 since I was 18 years old. I just turned 33, so I’ve been working at it for awhile.

  7. Cat

    I am 13 and I can do 10 pull-ups in a row. I haven’t tried past that because I don’t want them to get sloppy.

  8. Dan

    I’m 5’10” and weigh 132lbs. I’m up to 13 pullups and i can do 7 with 15lbs on my back……just curious how much i should be able to do weighing so little.

  9. Vegan Gerard

    I’m 51 and did 26 at the gym today..shooting for 31 :-)
    Thx for the inspiration. I weigh 270 @ 5’9″

  10. Ian

    I’m 39, and I was asked for some marines at their booth alongside my buddy to give it a go. (30 reps would get you a shirt, 20 a water bottle)
    I did 19 and got a bag.

  11. John

    I’m 16 and I’m able to do 20 on a good day, 16-18 on a normal day and at least 12 any day. Male 5’7 138. Best ever was 25 I think.

  12. Nataraj

    I am a 49 old kid. Almost stagnated at 7reps. I am pretty warmed up my shoulder girdle structure after a few laps of swimming, and then I go for some stretching, after which I attack the chinning bar with proper form.

    I wish to go for a 12 rep one a single go.

  13. Gordy

    I’m 60 and I do 16 now, but that’s after I do my core workout of 100 sit ups, 70 leg raises and 30 ab rollers. Never tried them alone and fresh. I’m still building. When I was in high school I set the school record with 60 in 60 seconds and 80 bar dips in 60 seconds, so I probably have a bit of a nack.

  14. Adam

    Nice job man. I started doing pullups earlier this year and could barely get 2. Now, on a good day, I’m able to get 12 or 13. I’m 33, 6 feet tall and 212 lbs. I really want to be able to get 20 but I’m kind of in a bulking mode right now so I’m carrying a little extra fat. I definitely would be much closer to 20 if I lost this 10 extra lbs I’m carrying.

  15. chris

    these stats are for small guys, if you’re over 200 pounds, 9 reps is excellent

  16. chris

    Also these stats are probably for reverse narrow grip, wide grip is much harder

  17. le Blanc

    Ahh pull ups. My PB for strict chin ups is 28 yet I can only manage 4 pull ups with good form. What gives? I surf in my spare time so I know my back is pretty strong. Bugs the bejeezus out of me!

  18. Panda

    I can do around twelve pull ups– at one point I did 14 but then I dislocated my elbow and I’m building my strength back up.

  19. Mike

    When I was doing pull ups, I started out the first day of my workout going until I couldn’t do any more, then I just added one more pull up each day, knowing that I was capable of doing a certain amount it was easy to just add one more. Before I knew it I was up around 30-35. If I could not do one more the the day before, I’d take a quick rest then go to fatigue.

  20. Buddy

    Best ever was 35 when I was 12 yrs old
    Now I am 61 and 193 lbs. most recent best is 16 dead hang full extension military pull ups and 29 monkey motion pull-ups.

  21. bill

    I am 2 months out from 60 and I have been regularly doing 26-27 after my long runs on Sunday. Last year I did 30 one time. I can also do a muscleup with a kip. When I was in elementary school I couldnt do 1, nor could I do them when I was a 137lb distance runner in my 30s. I now weigh about 160lbs having done a lot of calisthenics the last 7 years and much less running and my pullup game has improved.

  22. Kenneth VANVORST

    I turned 50 this year. I can do around 20 wide grip pullups. I weigh about 195lbs. I’m trying to get in shape to pole vault this year. Forever young

  23. John Smith

    I am 14 and my max is 35 chin-ups and 28 pull-ups. Just was curious on the average.

  24. Mark Maher

    Hey John my name is Mark Maher and I’m 65 yrs old. Last week at the gym I set a personal best for pull ups, full extension full compression chin over the bar I did 35 non-stop , and I have it on video. My goal is 50 by the time I turn 66. If this is of interest to you my phone #is [removed]

    • John

      Hi Mark, Congrats on the personal record! 35 pull-ups is an incredible accomplishment. I just sent you an email to see if I can pick your brain a bit.

  25. Toby

    I’m 17 135 pounds. I have been working out at home all my life so far. Yesterday, I managed 37 pullups! A few day before that I managed 85 push-ups. Quite nice for a 17 y/o I should think!

  26. stan

    John, you done well. I like the idea of not tying the numbers to the age which so many sites do these days. I think that really takes away from what people can do. I can only do 2 at this time and have been away from training for a few years, but recommend them to the kids out doing roofing and such. It is on my personal list along with the dragon flag for core and upper body workouts.

  27. George

    I am fat at 245 pounds but can knock out 11 pull-ups from dead hang.

  28. Ruddyneck

    Im 42 and weigh 169, 5’7″ tall. After a few years of doing pullups in my barn while my horses eat breakfast, and nursing a shoulder injury, I am able to do 18 perfect pullups a set. The same for reverse grip, thumbs always matching the fingers. My elbows cant handle more than 18. The other day I did about 205 in one day, a personal best. I usually do 2x sets per day. Im still a bit skinny and Im so dang hungry when I do a pullup binge!…Which then makes me a bit doughy. And I still get butterflies when I grab the bar. I only do narrow grip, wide is unpleasant for my narrow frame. But its a great challenge that I find fulfilling.

  29. Demar

    My 30 lb, 5 year old daughter can do 8! She starts kindergarten next year.

  30. Drew

    Nice post, but I think you should take weight into account. I can do 7 pullups. According to your standard, I’m an intermediate. However, I weigh 258lbs and so it’s completely different to someone who weighs 150lbs.

  31. Joe

    I’m 19 and working my way to 100 pull ups in a row. Right now I’m at 61, I expect to reach my goal within the next year.

  32. Jimi

    I am 15 years old and I have just managed to get my record up to 41 pullups in 1 minute. I physically can’t do any more, any tips on how I can increase this? Thanks

  33. Rob Banks

    Most ever in one set was 12 at 215lbs… then set of 10, 8, and 8 following the first 12. I just lost 35lbs, shooting for 180 then I’m going to pull up all winter til I hit my first goal of 25 in a single set

  34. Dawn

    I’ve been working on them since February. I am a female and could do chin ups but not pull ups. I can do 8 strict pull ups as of Nov 1st. My goal is 10 by the end of year.

  35. Paul-David

    Hi I am Paul-David

    I am 46 and can do 27 chin ups in a minute, 20 pull ups in minute and can do assisted 1 arm pull-ups.

  36. David Harper

    everyone is lying here. most guys cannot do a single pullup. The most an average guy can do is two or three. The idea that a regular guy should be able to do ten is laughable. Nobody I know can do ten.

  37. Chuck

    When I was 175 pounds in high school, I could do around 20 pull-ups.
    Now much older, I let my fitness slide, then decided to work out hard for around 1.5 years ago.
    I started doing the pull-up machine so I could get clean reps. I weigh 280 pounds and my assist is 60 pounds. I can do 17, sloppy after 15, but I am struggling for bonus reps.
    I was 271 then went down to 263 and up to 285, but lifting heaviest I ever have. Bench max 320. Leg press max estimated 400+ as I do lots of reps like 40.
    Recently incorporated running into the mix and working up the speed and duration. Also training for Savage Race. Lots of monkey bars.
    Today did 2 pull-ups on a tree branch at a park. We were training as a family for the Savage Race.
    Certainly if I can keep my strength the same and lose some weight, I can do more pull-ups. Would be great to be able to do 10. Shooting for that!
    As far as anyone doubting me, could care less and other people also should care less.
    I am working out to better my health and be manly. I want to feel right. Having goals give me motivation and something to work together towards as a family. Guess I am far from average!

  38. davidge

    I never did pull ups before. How many time would it take for me to do about 8 repetitions? I need that to get to my country’s army.

  39. Don Braden

    I’m 54, 6’0″, 201lbs. I do between 12 & 15 per set, with an average of 13. I do 4 – 5 sets on back days. Fun to do them!

  40. Richard

    I just turned 70 about 2 weeks ago. I have been doing chin ups for about 4 years. I started to do them after my right shoulder ‘aged-out’ on me and curls left it very sore (osteoarthritis). Yesterday, I did 4 sets (36,31,27,26). I competed in a Senior Olympics Strength event in CA last year at the age of 69 and did 33. I have done 37 before and I am aiming for 40 reps (Olympian status). Yes, my form is excellent. I do them quickly and consecutively. I have not tried to see how many I could do if I stop on the bar and hang between small sets. I am 5′ 11″ and weigh 179 lbs.

  41. mark w

    56 year old man i great shape, never did pull ups. just gettig started can do 6 to 10 reps for 3 sets and of course the number drops lol.

  42. Brian A Mellen

    38 non stop in my day, Mid 20’s to late 30’s was my best shape, and that was directly after running 5 miles…
    Now at nearly 61 I can do like 6-8….depending on if I have been working on those or something else for a few weeks… I can still do like 15 one armed Pushups directly after 4 sets of 30 chair pushups… …my Push up record back in the day again, was 308 without stopping and 65 one armed pushups without stopping…. I still walk like 3-6 miles a day, do some powerwalking/shadowboxing with 5 lb heavy hands and use 50 lb dumbells for my biceps, triceps, shoulders and the Bench presses/Squats or lunges… I still do like 3 sets of 50 cruches followed by 2 – 1 minute planks, and 3-4 sets of dumbell deadlifts and mad cats old horses for the lower back…. but that is a far cry from my 1150 full sit-ups and I stopped as it took so long and I could just go on forever with those back then….

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