How to Achieve Your First Pull Up – video tutorial featuring John Sifferman

posted in: Exercises, Q+A, Strength Training, Videos | 13

If you’ve never been able to do a full pullup or chinup before, and you want to achieve your first pull up – then check out this instructional video. I go over 3 techniques for progressing to your first pull up.

How to Achieve Your First Pullup with John Sifferman


Remember the three progressions:

1) Flexed arm hang for 30 seconds – keeping your chin over the bar, your shoulder blades packed down, and your elbows in towards your ribcage (not flared out), hold this static position for time.

2) Negative Repetitions – using a chair to get your chin over the bar, hold yourself and slowly lower your body under control until elbows are locked and shoulder blades are stretched out. Try to increase the amount of time it takes to lower yourself, from 10-30 seconds per repetition.

3) Pullups with Band assistance – perform full pullups using resistance bands as an assistance to help you with the concentric portion of the exercise.

4) Full pullups or chinups without assistance

Update: Want to do more pull-ups? Check out my free 5-day Pull-up Training Crash Course. I’ll hook you up with a free program, some special reports and tutorials, and my very best tips on mastering the pull-up and chin-up exercises. If you want to improve your pull-up strength and performance as soon as this week, then Click Here to learn more about the free course.

More Information:

The Right Way to do Pullups and Chinups

How to Increase Your Pullup Numbers With Pyramid Training

9 Different Types of Pullups (Demo Video)

Kipping Pullups VS Deadhang Pullups

Doorway Pullup Bar Product Review

To your health and success,

Fitness Professional and Wellness Warrior

13 Responses

  1. Great progression for achieving the full pull-up. Nicely done!

  2. I’ve read similar suggestions to these before, and I have a question. This is embarrassing, but do you have any suggestions for an even easier modification than the timed flexed hanging? I can hang in a chin-up position, but when I try to even hang in a flexed pull-up, I fall right down. It must be a bicep vs shoulder/back strength issue, and I’m not sure how to address it.

  3. Lake, To make the deadhang pullup a little easier, just add a flexband to help lessen the bodyweight you must hold up. Alternatively, you could stand on a box or chair, and hold yourself up as much as possible with your arms, using your feet as little as possible for assistance.

  4. will roberson

    Dear John
    If you don’t have a resistance band can you master the pullup with just the first to steps you mentioned to master it?

    • Will,

      Yes, those steps will work perfectly even without the resistance band, which is just a tool that helps. I originally built my pullup numbers with a combination of negative repetitions followed by flexed-arm hangs for time.

  5. Excellent video, thanks for posting it.

  6. John, thanks for posting this—it looks like something I can do easily at the playground with my kids. How many times per day/week should you practice? Is a rest day necessary? Thanks again!

  7. Very informative videos. Thank you. I have one question. Chinup has been always been the hardest one for me but I want to improve. What should I do to increase numbers if my max is 3-4 in a good day right now? I can’t try the pyramid workout quite yet.

  8. John,
    Thank you for the reply! I will look these videos and make my own workout routine. And yes I have registered for the waiting list for your upcoming pull up training product. I’m giving myself a challenge for September. I will let you know the result. I want to thank you for your time and energy you put into the workout videos (for free!) they are real and not lame! It seems like you have been doing for some time. Please keep up the great work.

  9. hey john while doing negatives my shoulders are shrugging up pls help

  10. Hi

    Great videos I am really struggling with the Lower part of chin-up having difficulty unlocking my elbows any tips to deal with this thanks yvonne

    • Hi Yvonne, I’d start practicing scap pull-ups (aka shoulder shrug pull-ups) with your elbows locked to learn how to engage your lats. That’ll give you a good foundation of strength for the lower range of motion. Let me know if you have any further questions – happy to help.

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