For those of you wanting to join the “Got Pull-Up” club, below are my best tips for achieving your first dead hang. These worked for me – in a matter of two months, I went from being able to move myself an inch on the bar to a legitimate pull-up.
GTG (Grease the Groove) is the way to go. The full article is linked here, but the basic premise is this – do a few pull-ups (no more than half your max effort), as often as possible throughout the day. The point of GTG is NOT to work to failure. However, as you don’t yet HAVE a pull-up, technically you are working “to failure” every time you get on the bar. So to apply the GTG principle, if you’re able to work these throughout the day, each GTG effort should include just ONE pull-up exercise or drill.
Attack the pull-up from as many angles as possible. Starting with what I found the MOST helpful:
• Partials from the top. JUMP or stand on a box to get your chin over the bar. (Don’t stress your arms out here – just get to the top position the easiest way you can.) Lower yourself 1/4 of the way down, then pull back up. Each attempt, lower yourself a bit more before returning to chin-over-bar.
• Partials from the bottom. Starting from dead hang, pull yourself up as far as you can, slowly lower. This is how I learned to engage my back.
• Jumping pull-up. Starting from full extension, give yourself as small a boost as you need to get to chin-over-bar. Note, this is NOT a met-con-ish jumping PU where you’re springing up and down like a jackrabbit. This is one focused attempt, jump small and pull hard.
• Static holds at the top and bottom. JUMP to chin-over-bar, hold as long as you can. Or from a dead hang (with active shoulders), engage your back and hold as long as you can.
• Negatives. JUMP to chin-over-bar, lower yourself slowly. Do these sparingly, they’re tough on your muscles.
• Band-assisted dead hangs, if you’ve got ’em. Don’t cheat the ROM… just let the band help to get you up over the bar.
• I don’t put much stock in the Gravitron – it forces an unnatural movement pattern (unlike bands, which are totally flexible).
• Don’t bother with lat pull-downs. They won’t help much, if at all.
General tip. A chin-up grip with hands close together is “easiest”.
General tip. Look up past the bar – in the direction you’re trying to go – as you pull.
General tip. REST. You cannot practice these every day. Take at least two pull-up free days per week. Trying to do too much will only set you back.
Craving even more pull-up inspiration? Check this link from the CrossFit Virtuosity archives! (I’d just skip over point #10, right?)
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Melissa, first off this is my first time actually posting on your site, but i do follow it, I found your blog from robb wolf’s site, anyways ill get to the point, great article!, another word for it or more technical term used was “synaptic facilitation”, anyways there was another great article about this very thing by Clarence Bass, http://www.cbass.com/Snyaptic.htm anyways just thought i would throw it out there to prove your point with someone who tried this very thing.
Melissa Byers says
Thanks for commenting – and that is a GREAT link. You’ve got a typo in there, though…
The correct link is HERE.
Great post, MB. You’re good, you!
I’ve been reading your blog for a bit since Rob Wolf gave you the shoutout. Crossfit Brooklyn South in the house. Love the pullup stuff…I can do a bunch, not as many as I want.
As an aside, I have to mention: Pigtails, short shorts lip gloss, and deadlifts, just tell me where to sign!
Melissa Byers says
Welcome, South Brooklyn! But you posted as “anonymous”, so I’m not sure if you want to WEAR pigtails, short shorts and lip gloss… or if you like to LOOK AT GIRLS wearing pigtails, short shorts and lip gloss. Hmmm…
For those of you interested, check out Pavel’s Fighter Pull-Up program HERE. If you’re looking to build your pull-up numbers, this program should get you there in four weeks. A few of us from CFBK are working this now – keep you posted as to our results.
This is great info. I bought a Door Gym about a year ago and have it set up in my kitchen doorway. Every time I walk through I do something – negatives, holds, jumps, or even try a dead hang – with varying grips. A friend gave me 4 old stretch bands w/ handles that I’ve tied up to use for assistance. It takes a little getting used to (and into/out of) but I’m getting sooo close to my first deadhang.
I have started to work on a kip, but only so far as the swing with good form. I will get it in the next couple of months.
Not looking to wear them. Ha! red meat eating, deadlifting animal, and pigtails get me looking for dinner. Paleo all the way!
I have just started getting serious about CrossFit, after about 8 months of doing it half way. My goal for the last 8 months has been to work up to a dead hang, but I started with NO upper-body strength after playing soccer my whole life. I am proud to say that I just mastered my first dead hang! I think I can actually do a few, as I just now did an underhand dead hang after reading that they were “easier”. And this is after I did an assisted pull-up workout a few hours ago. Cake!
Thanks for the encouragement and great info. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one out there that had to work so hard to get 1 freakin’ pull-up.
I’ll definitely be back on your site soon!