Top 10 Tips to Improve Your Pull Ups

crossfit girl pullups 2The Memorial Day Murph workout is coming up so we figured to post up a few tips to help improve our pull ups to get ready for Murph.

Tip #1
Get on the pull up bar and test to see how many pull ups you can do. If you can’t do a pull up then do Australian pull ups or ring rows.

Print out this page and put your pull up number here______X_______

The goal is to improve our pull ups over the next few weeks.

I am just like you – I need to work on my pull ups and improve.  Even though I try to keep my body still in the dead hang – I have a slight kip when I get tired.  I know and am working to improve that. Check out the video below of my baseline test for pull ups to see how I did.

Train like a Navy SEAL and learn to improve YOUR pull ups

Tip #2
Use a variety to pull ups. Don’t limit yourself to regular pull ups. Use chin ups, australian pull ups, mountain climber pull ups, narrow grip, etc. See the video below for examples.

Tip #3
Work on your grip strength. How many athletes have you heard say that they could do more pull ups but their hands gave out? Train your weakest link by training your grip.

How to improve grip strength article here:

A good cardio pull up workout we like to do is the CrossFit workout “Nicole”
Complete as many rounds in 20 minutes as you can of:
Run 400 meters
Max rep Pull-ups
note rounds and reps in comments below

Video – CrossFit workout Nicole

Check out the CFF Wall/Ceiling Mounted Pull Up Bar @

Tip #4
Lose a few pounds/kilos if needed. This is a no brainer. If your carrying around 20 extra (unneeded) pounds then that is like wearing a weight vest. Drop the extra weight by increasing your cardio and eating clean fuel (paleo diet). Being lean and mean can have it’s advantages.

Tip #5
Do a variety of pull up workouts each week. Don’t just go out and do regular pull ups. Mix it up. A pull up workout we like is the workout “Cindy”.

Check out the video CrossFit Cindy workout

Check out Fat Gripz – The Ultimate Grip Builder @

Tip #6
If you can’t do pull ups – do “negatives”. Pull yourself up on to the bar with your chin over the bar. Slowly lower yourself down. When you first start you may drop quickly. Slowly build up to where it takes you 5 long seconds or more to lower down.

Tip #7
Use a pull up assist stretch band or have your buddy assist you (grab your hips and help you up).

This is a good method to work as a team and help you get your pull ups.

Start with a thicker band to learn how it works and slowly work down to a skinnier band.

Tip #8 
Mix up the rep count. Try to do 50 pull ups for time. Add weight and do sets of 3 to 5 reps to build strength. Confuse the muscles by mixing it up.

Here is a workout we like to do
21-15-9 reps
Pull ups

Tip #9
Thick bar
Use a thicker bar to strengthen the hands and forearms.

You can wrap a towel around a bar – or make a bar with PVC pipe (double it for strength.

You can place a thick device like the Fat Gripz on a regular bar to make it thicker.

Tip #10 
Try something different like a Spartan Race where you have to climb over walls and up a rope. If you have the ability – go to climb outside on boulders or walls (Parkour) or an indoor climbing gym. This will give you variety and let you test your skills on real world stuff.

Check out this Parkour video for inspiration

See How a Navy SEAL trained to kick @ss at Pull Ups HERE:

Test your pull up progress monthly and see how you do
insert your score here________

Tip #11 
Read and watch videos – and be inspired – check out the SGPT interview with Lee Wade Turner – one of the Bar-Barians.

Tip #12 
After a hard workout like Murph you should take a day of rest. Foam roll your muscles, stretch them and do some yoga. In order to be a long term athlete – rocking workouts in your 40s and 50’s – you need to take care of your body and stretch.

Elbow and Forearm rehab/treatment

Check out The Original Mobility Recovery Bands | Voodoo Compression Muscle Floss Bands

Questions from athletes in our gym.

Question: What is a good weighted vest to wear during workouts that will last a long time and have a good price.

You get what you pay for with weighted vest. You could spend $40 and the vest will tear after a few uses. Or you could spend $100 or so and get a great vest like a MIR weighted vest. This vest will last you a very long time.

Question: What is a good tip to improve on chin ups? Similar to the tips above on pull ups – use the chin up movement and do the workouts above.

Question: Where can I find out more info on CrossFit? Check out the CF main website here.

Related Articles:
Murph workout tips

CrossFit Cindy workout tips

CrossFit Fran workout tips

CrossFit Helen workout tips
How to install a pull up bar in the garage gym
Hand Care tips for CrossFit Athletes
10 Tips to Increase Grip Strength
Tips for Advanced pull up workouts
Top Ten Paleo Diet Tips
Iron Woody Band Reviews
CrossFit bodyweight workouts

Top 10 Tips to Improve Your Pull Ups


  1. Adam S says

    These were great tips, I use a lot of them! A big thing that help me get to 30 reps is doing a variety of different pull ups.

  2. says

    Thank you for the tips. Today I did slow pullups where you slowly go up hold it then come down, it requires a lot of mental strength I think to stay up there holding it!

  3. Espen says

    Very good information as always from Brad.
    I will use these tips to get back in shape and manage doing pull ups again.I have a goal of being able to do 10 by 1st of september.
    Know you guys know and can hold me accountable!LOL
    Have a nice day,and greetings from Norway.
    PS!I don’t have a Facebook account,but I still LIKE your article,Coach!

  4. Kelley Swanson says

    New to the SGPT family however, already incorporated MURPH and BENIOT to the regime, the pull-up article helps tremendously with multi-set pull-up routines.

  5. says

    I’ve used the massage and Epsom salt overnight soak a few times, and I can tell it’s making a difference. I found olive oil with some tea tree oil mixed in worked better for me than just plain lotion.

    Then, instead of a washcloth, I wrapped the gauze with two old Ace bandages I didn’t care about getting crusty with the salt, and that kept things dry. This video was a great find, as I’ve been working on healing some major, major elbow tendonitis since Labor Day Weekend 2012!

  6. Great Warrior says

    Another thing to try is start with a comfortable number like 10 or whatever you can do relatively easy. Do that number 5 times a day 6 days a week and add 1 to that number every week always doing it 5 times a day 6 days a week.

  7. Chris says

    Good ideas here ill incorporate into regiment ASAP. Worked from barely any strict to about 15 strict at a time and in Crossfit World 30-31 using a kip.

  8. Mario says

    I am more of a cardio guy so strength isn’t my strong suit but I feel confident in these tips and tricks. I am at 5 at a time and I want to get that up to 25 in the next 60 days

  9. Brett D says

    Coach, I am at my wits end on pull-ups. I’m 240 and pull-ups are my definite weak spot!! It’s to the point I really don’t want to do any workouts with pull-ups. When my max is 1-3, doing 100 pullups in an Angie really slows the workout to a halt. I just can’t make any gains. 1-3 is where I’m at. I worked at hard at my pullups and was able to get up to 6 at 220 lbs over summer, but that is not good progress when 20 is the expectation; I also attribute the gain to my weight loss.

    I do negatives, ring rows, use bands… What am I missing?

    • says

      Good to hear from you Brett.
      I would adjust diet and increase cardio and try to drop weight. This will make it substantially easier after you drop 20 to 30 lbs.
      Let me know how else I can help you

  10. Pàtricia Sîms says

    I am very out of shape,I did four.I need to drop some weight , so I can improve doing my workouts. I will keep trying to do pull ups and sit ups . pat

  11. Jason Gall says

    This is a great article! I have been using some of these tips to help improve my pullup skills. I can’t stress enough how important tip 4 is. No matter how strong your back is carrying around too much excess weight will always hold back your pullup progress.

  12. Scotty troxell says

    Hey brad I am 13 years old and I want to become a Navy SEAL officer when I’m older I wrestle and weight lift right now what else do you think I should be doing to help me prepare for BUD/S and being a SEAL

      • Scotty Troxell says

        Hey brad its Scotty again and I have a good log for log pt but nobody to do log ot with me I tried to do it with my friend who also wanted to be a Navy SEAL but quit because he didn’t want to have to leave some girl at school so what kind of workout can I do by myself on a log and is there anything I can do to stop cramps when I run because almost everytime I run I get bad cramps and I’ve tried the breathing thing and I tried drinking water water Ecspessally didn’t work it just made me cramp faster so do you no anything else that may work thanks.

        • says

          make a sand bag and use that as your log. Check out our recent sand bag workout article from last week.

          CHeck out our endurance event tips to help you with fuel/drink intake to help alleviate cramping.

          post up if you can’t find the articles – but use the search tab in upper right and you will find them.

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