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Pull Ups Level 1 - How to get your first Pull Up and beyond

Published 29th September 2015


What you need to know

The following programme and associated spreadsheet is designed to increase the pull up strength of individuals who can perform the following:

  • 0-4 Proper Strict Pull Ups
  • A chin over bar hold of at least 5 seconds
  • A controlled 5 second Pull Up negative from chin over bar to dead hang


The 6 week programme consists of 3 sessions per week, each of which should take between 10 and 20 minutes.


Depending on your starting strength, individuals can expect to be able to do between 1-10 Pull Ups by the end of the programme.


Having healthy shoulders and adequate range of movement about the shoulder and thoracic spine (upper back) will enable faster progress.


The video at the bottom of the article shows a demonstration of all the exercises required as part of the programme.


To get the most out of the programme we strongly recommend booking a session with a coach before you start to ensure you are performing the exercises correctly.


Pull Ups Level 1 - The Programme

Download the Pull Ups Level 1 Programme via Dropbox here. Print it off and use it alongside the video and exercise notes in this article to get the most out of the programme.


Warm Up and Activation

I recommend a 3-5 minute steady Row before each session.

Part A in each session should be performed as a superset. You should be able to complete each set comfortably and not be close to failure at any point.


Assisted Pull Ups

The partner giving assistance should do enough to allow a constant smooth movement up and down but no more.

This may mean more assistance is given on the final rep of a set compared to the first rep.

Less assistance will be required in the eccentric (negative) portion of the movement compared to the concentric.

By week 3 onwards some assisted pull up reps may require little to no assistance. This is a good thing so don't feel your partner has to assist!


Chin Over Bar Hold

Using a pronated grip (overhand grip) hold your chin over the bar for as long as possible for the max set and time it. Your chin should not make contact with the bar.

For percentage sets, use a percentage of your longest max hold in seconds.



Start with a 1 second pause with your chin over the bar then descend in 3-5 seconds to the bottom of the pull up at a constant speed.

Make certain not to move fast through the most difficult parts of the range of movement - the first 2-3 inches and the last 2-3 inches!!!


Ring Rows

If not part of the warm Up (Part A) each set of Ring Rows should be performed at an angle that makes the set as hard as possible while maintaining form and range of movement.


Chin Ups

From a stationary dead hang with a pronated grip (palms facing you), pull each chin up as fast as possible while maintaining proper body position.


Pull Ups

From a stationary dead hang with a supinated grip (palms facing away from you), pull each chin up as fast as possible while maintaining proper body position.


Slow 'n' Grow

From a stationary dead hang with a supinated grip, perform a pull up, pause 5 seconds with chin over bar then do a 5 second negative.




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