Increase your Pullups – Blast to the next level!
The pullup is one of the most basic body movements that we perform as humans.  The pullup and it’s need is still alive and well as this type of movement is used in many sports ( think rockclimbing, pole-vaulting), everday life ( Mom playing with kids at the park or child pulling self up on to chair), everday work (climbing ladder) to an occupation (fire fighter, fire fighter, military, window washer) and here at CrossFit in the gym. If you want to reduce your overall times on the workout of the day (WOD), work out of the week (WOW) or Crossfit workouts like Fran, Angie and Jackie then increasing your pullup technique and strength is something you need..


If you apply the techniques from this workout and go full out 100% with discipline and focus you will improve your pullups and shed minutes of time on your workouts.
No matter if you cannot do your first pullup or you are working on mastering the muscle up – there is room to learn and grow.

Getting Started

In order to get started on improving or learning a pullup we need to know your starting point so that we can have a base reference. Look at the list below and try out the pullup exercise. If you cant do a pullup, then try a jumping pullup or assisted pullup with a band.  Note the number of reps you can do and keep in your journal.

Pullup type -_________________Number of reps_______________- -Date – ______________

Pullup Progressions


The purpose of the pullup progressions is to take you from a beginners assisted pullup to a regular pullup.  We will start with ring pullups and work our way up.
1. Ring pullups (or lowered bar) with feet on floor
2. Ring pullups (or lowered bar) with feet on box or wall
3. Band pullups one foot on floor or box
4. Band pullups no feet dead hang
5, Band pullups with Kip
6. Pullup no band dead hang
7. Pullup kipping
8. Pullup weighted
9. Ring muscle up with toes on floor
10. Ring muscle up with Kip
11. Ring muscle up dead hang
11. Ring muscle up
12. L sit Bar muscle up both feet on box
13. Bar muscle up one foot on box
13. Bar muscle up with Kip
13. Bar muscle up dead hang
14. Bar muscle up with weighted vest

Now that you know where you are at on the pullup pyramid chain let’s work towards moving you up one level and increasing your number of reps and control.

Quick Mind set note:

Think Positive! Don’t use the dreaded word “can’t”. Say you can and you will. Think light as a feather. You’re a pullup machine!

Now start a practical in gym session taking each athlete through mechanics of next level of pullup progression.

Ring pullups (Aka ring rows) with feet on floor moves to adding 12 to 24 inch box depending on fitness. If more advanced have athlete put feet on wall that has ladder rungs or equivalent height bench. You may also use a lowered bar and pullup from the bar.

Log number of reps and height of box ____________________

Band Pullups – With band pullups move to the next station whether you are using one less foot or moving to the next thinner band. How do you know you need to move to the next band? If you are doing 8 pullups then reps 6,7 and 8 should be hard. If you blitz right through all 8 reps then your band is too thick. Challenge yourself and move to next thinner band.

Pullups with No Band

For this stage it would be good to be able to do one pullup. If not have your training partner to slightly push your back upwards and lightly guide you up and over the bar.

Another method is to hold the persons feet and guide them over bar.

If you can do one pullup then rest and try to do another. Rest. Do another.

Log number of reps and rest time between reps.

Here is some extra work to help you with pullups.

If you can do more than 5 pullups you need to do 5 pullups before you leave the gym at least 3 days a week. Don’t do 3 days in a row of extra pull-ups at the very start. Slowly work your way into this extra work and have rest days between.

If you can do more than 5 pullups then add extra pull-ups at the end of your workout (5 extra every day and add 1 every week). For more info see the pull pullup workout by Stew Smith found further below.

If your above 10 pullups you can begin weighted pullups and start scale ring muscle ups with both toes on the floor. Go light with the weighted pull-ups at first (5 lbs) and progress higher.

Starting the Muscle Up

You should have mastered at least 15 pullups and 10 bar dips before you start the muscle up. This will give you a good base to work with.

Set both rings about chest high. Lower down into the false grip

position using the bone on the outer part of your wrist as a hook.

Pull your body up into the rings pushing your chest forward and using your feet/toes to push and continue on through in a ring dip. Lock out at the top. Lower down slowly and try again. Rest if needed.

The transition point between getting the chest up and through the rings can be the hardest part to learn. Many hit a wall at this point.

Continue to work as many reps as you can of the scaled muscle ups with one or both feet as a boost. Raise the rings over time and this will help reinforce the transition move and help you get past this block quicker.

From Jeff Tucker

Jeff Tucker from GSX Athletics presents his muscle-up training progression. Jeff is the coach for the CrossFit Gymnastics certification seminar.

The first step is to have competency in a stable environment, such as with a bar dip. Then you should be able to hold a stable support on the rings. Next is the ring dip. Only when this can be performed comfortably should the rest of the muscle-up progression begin.

The false grip is essential, and the elbows must be kept in tight.

Then, the transition can be practiced on the toes. This develops the strength and muscular patterning required for a stable and consistent muscle-up. Within a few months of simple drills like this, raising the rings a few inches at a time, the full muscle-up will come.

Log number of assisted ring muscle up reps and rest times

Progress to one foot to push you up through rings.

Additional work- do more bar dips. Progress to ring dips. Log and chart your progress. As you build strength in ring dips your muscle ups will be easier.

Bar muscle up

Can be scaled by using a box below the bar and pushing off with one or both feet.

Once you feel solid with this movement you are ready to progress to the bar dip with a Kip.

Start out by doing a large Kip and pull your chest all the way up to the bar. As the bar reaches your chest prepare to shift and roll your shoulders forward with your momentum. As you roll the shoulders forward begin to push up with your arms and triceps. If your pullup is high enough you will move into and past the transition spot and using your arms you will perform a dip on the bar to finish. Lower yourself quickly with a slight push away from the bar and perform the Kip again to move back upwards towards the bar.

Additional work

Do CrossFit workouts like “30 muscleups for time”, JT, Ryan, Nasty Girls and Jason to become more proficient. Perform dips at the top of

the bar after a muscle up to build strength. Do more regular dips in your training. Perform ring dips and ring pushups to build strength.

Additional pullup workouts

Pullup Pyramids

Try a pyramid of pull-ups: work your way up from one pull-up the first

set until you can no longer do any more sets, then return down the

pyramid repeating in reverse order (1,2,3,4,5,6,5,4,3,2,1). (Rest 10

minutes before the last exercise of the test.)

Or try this…

CrossFit pullup workout

1 pullup first minute

2 pullup minute 2

3 pullup minute 3

Continue until you cannot do amount of pullups for that minute

After a rest day try this workout

25 pullups for time


50 pullups for time


100 pullups for time

Then rest a full day afterwards

Log your time results and how many sets it took you to complete.

Pull Pullup workout

By Stew Smith

After the unbelievable success from the “Push-up Push Workout,” in

which people doubled their pushups in two weeks, I performed the same

test on pull-ups with (young and old) students with similar success.

This workout works best on folks who can do 3-10 pull-ups. Many

increased their pull-ups to 10-20 in two weeks.

Here is what you need to try for a two-week period:

  • Do your regular workout program, but for 10 straight days do an

additional 25-50 pullups.

  • If you are only able to do less than 5 pull-ups: do 25 pull-ups for

your daily plan below:

  • If you can do more than 5 pull-ups: do 50 pull-ups for your daily

plan below:

Odd Days (Supersets OR Pyramids):

Supersets (repeat 10 times):

  • Pullups – max

  • Pushups – 20

  • Dips – 5-10

  • Abs of choice – 30

Pyramids (see PT Pyramid article above)

  • Pullups – 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 rest with
  • Pushups – 2,4,6,8,10,12,14….2

  • Abs of choice – 5,10,15,20,25,30,35….5

  • Alternate with NO rest from one exercise to the next

Even Days:

25-50 pullups anyway you can throughout the day or in a single

workout. Do small repetition sets until you reach 25- 50 pull-ups.

Rotate for the next ten days from odd day workout options and even day

pull-up supplement, then take three-four days off from doing ANY pull-

ups. Test on day 14 or 15 and let me know your results.

Good luck with the Pullup-Push Workout. Push yourself and you can

quickly perform better on your pull-up test. You can fit this type of

program into your present workout plan by just adding 25-50 pullups on

your rest days so you do a ten-day routine of pull-ups.

pulling yourself up on to something. Since cavemans days this effort has helped us scale cliffs in search of food or escape from enemies. Do negatives. If you can do 2 pullups then do 2 negatives for 2 seconds each. Every week add 1 second to your hold time and add one rep. So next week you will be going for 3 seconds and 3 reps.

Pullup workouts
Jumping pullups (use as much leg push as needed, lower slowly . . .

this really keeps the cardio going in a WOD like Fran) Pure negatives (climb to top position using whatever means necessary, chair, bench, whatever, then lower slowly) Assisted Pullups: use a Gravitron machine (if you’re lucky enough to have access to one), or, even better, a human spotter to give you a lift. Bend your legs at the knees so that the tops of your feet are facing down, have the spotter support you there to provide some lift.

Assisted pullups 2: Get a large elastic band (surgical tubing works great), loop over the bar, step in it to provide some lift Reduced load pullups: Suspend a bar (maybe an Olympic bar for

weights?) at a height less than overhead . . . maybe about chest high . . . get underneath it with you legs in front and body straight . . . do “pullups” with your legs still on the ground, supporting part of your weight . .

All of these have the advantage that they are neurologically more valuable than the fairly un-natural motion of locking your knees under a pad and moving just your arms . . . in all of these, your arms are going to be drawing your whole body up . . . you will progress toward “full” pullups faster.

But yes, you can do pull-downs, and doing those are infinitely better than skipping this workout. Courtesy of Dave Wood

  1. 10 pullups before you leave the gym

Ok to work pullups 3 to 4 times a week

  1. 100 pullups for time
  2. 1 pullup in 1 minute, 2 pullups in 2 minutes till failure 4. Weighted pullups. Use weight between legs or belt/chain or flack jacket

Chesty puller workout

Pull up tips for Beginners


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