Coaches Corner: coach Anne talks Pull-Ups

Dec 19, 2018 | By Anne DelBovo,

The pull-up is one of those movements that comes so naturally for some and is a constant struggle for others. But, no matter where you lie on the pull-up spectrum, there is always room for improvement. 

Why should you do pull-ups?

Pull-ups are a great test of body weight strength. They work your grip, biceps, shoulders, and back. They also help improve general body awareness and help you learn to control your body through space. Pull-ups are the ultimate real-world upper body exercise.  

Why do some people struggle?

Sorry ladies, the cards are sort of stacked against us! Women have a higher body fat percentage than men, which means that their strength to body weight ratio is lower. Women also don’t build muscle as fast which makes it more difficult – but not impossible!

Also, taller and larger people have a harder time with strict pull-ups. Smaller people generally have a slightly higher body weight to strength ratio than larger people. It often comes down to weight, levers, and physics. 

The good news: You can still get a pull-up!

If you are committed to working towards it, there are many things you can do to work towards that elusive strict pull-up. 

  1. Work on the basic muscle groups to build bicep and lat strength through free weight movements and lifting. 
  2. Scale the pull-up to something that directly translates to the full movement. I recommend toe assisted box pull-ups (video) and only some band assisted pull-ups (don’t always use a band). 
  3. Make a goal and commit and be diligent to whatever path you choose! (check out my pull-up program on the website or find one that works for you!)
  4. If it’s healthy and feasible for you, shedding even a few pounds will make pull-ups, and every body-weight movement noticeably easier.  


To kip or not to kip. 

Why do we do the kipping pull-up? In any high-intensity training, we want to find ways that you can do more reps in a short amount of time to keep the intensity up. 

However, if you cannot perform a strict pull-up, there is no reason to do kipping pull-ups in a workout. It’s just not safe! However, you can continue to work on the skill outside of workouts while you are developing your strict pull-up strength.

Improving on your strict pull-ups.

If you already have the foundation of a good strict pull-up, here are a few things to add to your routine that can help improve them even more. 

  1. Add some weight: Go slow and work up in added weight and reps.
  2. Improve your mobility: If you know you have tight lats or thoracic spine, spend some time every day working on those areas for a better full range of motion. 
  3. Negatives: Work on the lowering portion of reps until failure (no longer able to control the descent).
  4. Chest to bar: Work on pulling even higher! Aim for your chest or sternum. This will help engage even more lats, chest, and triceps. 

wait for it…..