How to perform a proper pull-up

In this article, I will talk about one of the most basic exercise, the pull-up. Compared to the push-up, while you perform this exercise you pull all of your body-weight. And that is why pull ups are harder than the push-up.
After reading this guide you will be able to do a proper pull-up. Just kidding, it all depends on your skill level.

The working muscles

The main working muscles are the Lats(Latissimus dorsi) and biceps(it depends from the grip that you have on the bar). But compared to the push up it is a more complex exercise because you workout with all of your body-weight.


Here is how to perform proper pull-up right:

  • Grip the bar with shoulder width apart(if you feel stronger at closer or wider grip use it).
  • Let loose on the bar(passive hang). If the bar is too low for you, cross your legs behind you.
  • Pull up towards the bar and get as high as you can. Exhale at the top.
  • Lower your body and inhale while lowering.
  • Keep your body straight throughout the exercise.

Common mistakes:

  • Doing half reps – always perform full reps, you have more benefits performing full reps. There are also benefits of doing half reps, but you have both of the benefits of doing them the right way. Full reps mean – extend the elbows fully and get as high as you can.
  • Usually, people don’t breath while they train – if you breath during the exercise you may do 1-2 reps more.
  • Too much or too little rest between sets – Rest for one or two minutes between sets or when you feel fresh again.

What’s next after pull ups?! It is too easy.

I was thinking the same a year ago. It was very easy to do pull ups. I started doing 15+ reps(once I did 20 reps and I thought, no no that is not my goal). I did a research about different bodyweight exercises and I started doing Tucked front lever rows(or something similar to that) behind the back rows on a lower bar and many more. Right now I am working on full advance tucked front lever rows(full range of motion). You can try them out on your next workout.


But I can not do a single proper pull-up, what should I do?

That is ok(I’ve had the same problem). It is ok if you can not perform a single rep, you have to start from somewhere right 🙂 . You can start with two basic exercises:

  • Bodyweight rows
  • Negative pull ups

If you can do 3-5 reps of bodyweight rows, you should start doing pull up negatives. If you can not do a BW row do a negative instead. Negative means the negative part of an exercise, for an example the lowering part of the pull-up or the lowering part of a push-up. So figure what you can do and start from there.

Bodyweight rows


This was one of my favorite exercises, now I perform it to warm up before pulling exercises(like a front lever, muscle up and pull ups). And it is very easy to perform, first find a low bar or parallel bar:

  • Put your hands shoulder-width apart on the bar.
  • Get your feet in front of you(comfortably).
  • Get to a position, just like in the picture.
  • Extend your elbows, inhale while you are lowering your body.
  • Pull towards the bar, with your elbows close to the body(keep them neutral). And exhale at the top.

Negative Pull-up

negative proper Pull-up negative

This is the next progression exercise, the negative pull up. It is simple as it looks. You can get on top of the bar by jumping up or on a lower bar. This is the one of the best exercises that will help you build up the strength to pull up. And here is how to do it:

  • Get on top of the bar(by jumping up or start with a lower bar).
  • Start lowering your body as slow as you can and exhale at the bottom.(Inhale before you lower your body).
  • Do this exercise until you can perform a single pull up.

Warm up.

Remember to warm your body before you workout.Your body performs better that way. Learn more here.

YouTube short tutorial from Passion4Profession

How many pull-ups can you do and what is your favorite grip?

And before you do anything check my disclosure page!


By | 2015-11-14T13:25:41+00:00 July 21st, 2015|Blog, Pulling|1 Comment

About the Author:

One Comment

  1. […] not sure though), you can put the straps on the pull up bar and use them as rings(Bulgarian dips), pull ups(with all kinds of grips), front lever, back lever, different leg raises, hanging core exercises, […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: