How to Do Pull-Ups from Scratch

4th May 2020
Pull-ups are one of the most complete and hardest exercises because of how demanding they are. Here, learn how to do pull-ups from scratch.

Pull-ups are a very complete exercise that lots of people find difficult. However, it’s possible to learn how to do pull-ups from scratch. To do them, you’ll need to follow a series of guidelines that we’ll share with you today.

Musculature involved in pull-ups

In order to start preparing to learn how to do pull-ups from scratch, it’s important to know what muscles this exercise uses. This will help you when planning your training so you can focus on specific muscles. The muscles you use when you do pull-ups are:

Also, it uses the arm muscles a lot too, especially the forearmsAt the same time, you also need to work on your grip strength so you can grip the bar better.

Basic principles of how to do pull-ups

As with any exercise, it’s important to keep in mind the principles of physical training at all times. Without a doubt, consistency is key.

You need to stay consistent if you want to reach the goals you set for yourself. Therefore, the basic principles to do pull-ups are:

  • Regularity: it’s essential if you want to do pull-ups from scratch. You’ll have to train at least three or four times a week to get good results.
A woman learning to do pull-ups.

  • Progression: you must make constant progression, starting from basic traction exercises and making them gradually harder. Before doing your first pull-up, you should be able to do some assisted pull-ups.
  • Regeneration: in fact, rest time is just as important as training time. If you don’t give your muscles enough rest after such intense and specific training, you could overtrain.

3 Keys to do pull-ups from scratch

In order to learn to do pull-ups, it’s important to consider the following tips:

  • Keep control of your own weight: it’s essential that you control your weight and diet. In this specific training process, you’ll focus on gaining muscle mass in the muscles involved. However, you’ll still need to maintain optimal weight. The less extra weight you carry- without losing muscle mass- the easier it’ll be to do pull-ups.
  • Strengthen the specific muscles: gaining muscle mass in the muscle groups we mentioned is essential. For this, you need to know how they move to execute pull-ups.
  • Do the first pull-ups with the help and supervision of a professional. Also, you could do this with elastic bands or machines. That way, you can control the weights until you can master them on your own.

Exercises that help you to do pull-ups from scratch

To help you progress to doing your first pull-up, there are a series of simple exercises that will help you prepare your body.

As we’ve mentioned in the previous paragraphs, pulling exercises are essential since they’re similar to the movement in pull-ups. In addition, these exercises will also work the following muscles:

  • Deadlifts
  • Mountain climbers, at a much more controlled pace than normal
  • Knee lifts hanging on a bar
  • Rowing on rings
  • Kneeling cable pull-down
  • Assisted pull-ups, either with a trainer or a machine

What’s the best amount of pull-ups to do?

There’s no single answer to this question. Also, you’ll have to be patient, since doing lots of pull-ups isn’t an easy task. If you want to do pull-ups from scratch, completing the first full pull-up will be the hardest part.

Two people doing pull-ups together.

Once you can do it, doing four or five won’t be so hard. However, reaching ten or fifteen pull-ups is already a more respectable number considering you’re starting at zero.

At this point, you need to keep another factor in mind: gender. Men, because of how they’re built, have more muscle mass than women, who have more body fat.

The ratio of muscle mass to body fat benefits men when doing pull-ups. So, it’s easier for them to do this exercise.

The importance of the pull-up bar

Apart from what we’ve already mentioned, there are other factors when it comes to this exercise. One of them is the pull-up bar since its characteristics could determine how many you can do. The most stable and perfectly anchored bars will let you do more repetitions.

In short, it’s possible to do pull-ups from scratch, even if you have a long way to go. Apart from muscle strength, it’s also important to work on coordination. If you add consistency to all of this, achieving your goals is easier than you think.

  • Ronai, P., Scibek, E.(2014).The pull-up. Strength and conditioning journal. 3(36):88-90.
  • Ricci, B., Figura, F., Felici, F., Marchetti, M.(1988). Comparison of male and female functional capacity in pull-ups. J Sports Med. Phys. Fitness. 28:168-175