My First Pull-up

CFIO’s Guide to Your First Pull-up & Many More


How many times have you looked at a workout and thought, “But, I can’t do a pull-up!” Too many times to count I bet. Don’t worry though – you’re not alone. For many of our athlete’s pull-ups are the one exercise that seems so far away. 

With the Open coming up how awesome would it be to get your first pull-up!?  To help get you closer to that first pull-up, we’ve put together a little guide: BREAKING DOWN THE MOVEMENT

Every movement has three phases a concentric, an isometric, and an eccentric. For the pull-up they look like this:

Concentric: The act of pulling the bar under your chin.

Isometric: the split second where you pause with your chin above the bar before descending into the bottom part of the pull-up.

Eccentric: The act of lowering yourself back into the dead hang position.

To become efficient in the pull-up, we need to develop all three phases of the movement. Developing in these phases takes consistent effort and proper progressions.



The actual pulling portion is the hardest part of the pull-up for almost everyone. If we can’t pull our chins above the bar how can we train this part of the pull-up? Here are just a few exercises that you can use on your own:

Ring Rows

Supine Ring Rows

Barbell assisted pull-ups

Lat banded pulldowns

Jumping pull-ups



There are two ways in which we can train the isometric phase of the pull-up:

The first is to develop strength in the dead hang of the pull-up. We do so by activating our shoulders and keeping our torso in a tight hollow position.

The second is by jumping our chin over the pull-up bar and holding in that position for as long as we can. Again we want to think about bracing our core and keeping our feet squeezed together with toes pointing down to the floor.


To train the eccentric, we want to lower ourselves under control from the chin over the bar position back to the dead hang. This will be tough for most people at first so start with a 3- second descent. Once that becomes too easy, you can move on to 5 and 10 sec counts.


P.S. Getting stronger is the most important thing you can do for your overall health as well as getting that first pull-up. Don’t fall into the trap of learning to swing your body above the bar (aka- kipping) until you’ve achieved the strict pull-up. This will keep you progressing and injury free!


Interested in your very own four-week program that will lay out how to get from the dead hang to stringing together your first pull-ups? Be on the lookout for our CFIO PULL UP CLINIC & 4-Week Progression program to help take your gymnastics to the next level.

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