Firstly, let’s get one thing out of the way, the pull-up is not exclusively reserved for elite level athletes. Men and women of all body types can learn how to build the strength required for a pull-up. This includes YOU!
Secondly, if you can already do a pull-up, this guide will help you to dial in your skills and OWN every repetition.
Thirdly, this guide will not guarantee you your first pull-up. Working towards your first pull-up requires discipline, time and energy. However, pursuing your first pull-up is a worthy challenge. Mastering this exercise will improve strength, build lean muscle and fortify your body.
So, without further ado, let’s begin!
STEP ONE: HOLLOW BODY & PROGRESSIONS
It’s hard for many beginners to visualise themselves completing their first pull-up when the end goal seems so far away. How can you train your pull-up if you don’t have a pull-up? A good understanding of the exercise progressions (from point A to B) is useful in learning the unique skills necessary to own the movement.
The first thing necessary to securing your first pull-up is the “Hollow Body” position. When we teach pull-ups at Valkyrie, we challenge our members to aim for a strong “hollow body” throughout the movement. This ensures that the whole body moves as one strong unit. This has a massive carry-over to other strength exercises (deadlift, swing, push-ups).
*for those of you that are confident with the pull-up, this step is paramount when considering weighted pull-ups or more advanced progressions.*
“Without challenges, the human body will soften. We thrive when we push our boundaries, reach goals, and blast personal records. We perform better, we look better, and we feel alive.”Dan John
Progression 1: Chin Tuck
Sounds simple but is often performed (demonstrated) incorrectly, the Chin Tuck is our first piece of the puzzle to learning a rock solid hollow body position.
1. First, lay on your back and bend your knees till they are vertical to the ground.
2. Then, cup your palms on top off your knees. This is your starting position.
3. Now, tuck your chin with purpose and push your lower back to the ground. This should result in a strong and active position.
*It’s important to add that your head should maintain contact with the ground and trapezius (shoulder/ neck) muscles should remain inactive.*
4. Practise this till you can maintain this active position for at least 30 seconds.
Progression 2: Form The Hollow Body
1. From the Chin Tuck position start to add resistance in the form of your arms and legs.
2. Start by slightly extending your legs, one at a time. *Note: you must still be able to feel your lower back pushing to the floor. Do not progress until you can maintain all of the standards from the chin tuck position.*
3. Once, you’ve mastered full extension of your legs, you can now start to lengthen your arms above your head. This is the advanced Hollow Body.
4. Practise until you can hold for 30 seconds to a minute.
Expert advice is good but a great coach with expert advice is invaluable. If you have found this guide helpful but still have questions about kettlebell training, bodyweight or barbell strength, please reach out to us. Our coaches are of the highest quality and our classes are fun and engaging.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
StrongFirst-certified Instructor and Kettlebell enthusiast, Hugo
Cranswick is the Founder and Head Instructor of Valkyrie Functional
Training located in the humble town of Newcastle, NSW. Hugo has proven
a sound understanding of Kettlebell training as well as insatiable thirst for
knowledge in the field of strength & conditioning. Along with his open
minded approach to health and fitness, Hugo presents a wealth of
knowledge on nutrition and paths to an active, fulfilling lifestyle.
The combination of his unique skill set and his absolute passion for his
students has led him to consistently deliver outstanding results.