Training to do a pull-up

I have a lot of strength to rebuild in general, but one of my specific goals is to be able to do at least one (ideally 3-4+!) pull-up.

As with most things, if I don’t make myself a plan it isn’t going to happen. So – here goes!

Week 1 (this week):
-Isometric hold: Hold chin above bar for as long as I can, up to 60 seconds


-Dead Hangs: Hang from bar for 60 seconds


-Bent over dumbbell rows: start with low weight for 3 sets of 8 reps, work up to 20 lbs for 3×8 reps


Week 2:
-Once I can hold my chin above the bar for 60 seconds, then try Negatives


-Work up to 3 sets of Negatives, lowering in 15 seconds

-Start body weight rows (AKA inverted rows), alternating overhand and underhand each lifting session. Find a bar at a height that is challenging to do 3 sets of 8 reps (bend knees and put feet flat on the floor if it’s too difficult – or drop hips). Then, keep lowering it to make the 3×8 reps harder!

I need to find a low bar for this… hmmm…


Week 3:
-Try assisted pull-ups and chin ups with a chair, alternating type each lifting session.


-Work up to 3 sets of 8 pull-ups with little assistance

Week 4: 
Giving myself two weeks to work on the things above and try a run/jump to pull-up.

Week 5:
Try underhand pull-ups! Later that week, test overhand pull-ups!

I’d love to have some of you try along with me. Want to join me on the 1-pull-up-goal quest? Comment here!

I’ll post a video or picture by Jan 1st with my progress – you can check in with your progress then too!

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  1. The edge of a desk or table can work for inverted rows, that's often what I use. Just make sure it isn't going anywhere.

    I'm working on hand strength to do a pull-up in a door frame, so even though I can already do a pull-up or two on a bar, I will have my own pull-up challenge to work on.

    1. Hadn't thought of that – although gripping a table or desk would be a little harder than a bar, wouldn't it?

      I think I found a bar at the gym I can use I am a little (lot) intimidated by the contraption since I'll need to figure out how to lower it… and can just see the entire bar falling onto the gym floor, my toe, or another piece of equipment and causing the entire gym to go up in flames.

      Mid-January check-in for door frame pull-ups, then? 🙂 Love it.

    1. Every other day. That means my "weeks" above will be a little off, but my plan is to move from week to week as I get stronger (vs. automatically moving at the start of a new week).

      Keep me posted!

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