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?)