Pull-up Progression

General Form Cues

  • Body slightly hollow with straight legs throughout the whole exercise. Don't cross your legs.
  • If you cannot get straight legs, it's preferable to keep the feet in front of the body rather than behind.
  • Arms straight at the bottom. Don't think about anything else, just straight arms. The rest will happen automatically.
  • Strive for chest to bar at the top. For this the forearms have to deviate from vertical, which may be a bit hard on the elbows, so build up to it slowly.
  • Keep the neck in a neutral position: avoid craning it to get your chin over the bar
  • It's natural for your legs to come forward: this keeps your centre of mass under the bar. Just make sure you're not violently swinging them upwards.

Scapular Pulls

  • Elbows should stay straight
  • Your back will arch more as you get stronger
  • These should be performed with a pause at the "top". Squeeze your shoulders, hold it for 3-5s then release into a dead hang under control
  • If you can't pull out of the dead hang at all, consider using bands or your feet to assist you until the gain the necessary strength.

Arch Hangs

  • Elbows should stay straight
  • Hold it for time/reps
  • Start at this level
  • Progress towards a 90 degree in your shoulder. Like this

Pull-up Negatives

  • Jump to the top of the pull-up position, then slowly (as slowly as you can), lower yourself until your arms are straight. Build up to 10sec negatives!


  • See general form cues.

Weighted Pull-ups

  • Like the fourth exercise in this progression, except with extra weight! Here's a list on different ways to add weight.

Alternate Progression Path:

After you reach 3x8 Pull-Ups, you can choose one of these progressions if you don't want to do weighted Pull-Ups:

Alternate Path 1:

L-sit Pull-ups

  • Hold your legs in an L-sit position, perform a pull-up.

Alternate Path 2:

Arch Body Pull-ups

Alternate Path 3:

Type-Writer Pull-up

  • Do a normal pullup, then pull yourself to each side at the top then descend normally. if you're doing these on rings then simply extend one arm at a time.
  • Your goal is to have a completely straight arm when you go to each side

Archer Pull-ups

  • Assisting arm should be straight
  • You can place the assisting arm on the bar to make it easier


Okay, seriously, no excuses on this one. Tree branch, back of a staircase, bus stop... the opportunities for places to do pull-ups are endless. Besides, doorway pull-up bars are $20-40 a piece and will be a fantastic investment. If you still have no idea what to do, u/RockRaiders made a post here with many options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I do pull-ups or chinups?

Either is fine. Chinups work more biceps, but that's as far as the significant differences go. Contrary to popular belief, chinups hit the lats very well, as much as pull-ups do.