how to do a pullup

Move of the Day – How To Do A Pullup


How To Do A Pullup or Chin Up

Okay guys, this is probably THE #1 most requested skill we get asked how to do by our female clients. How to do a pullup. If you know someone who wants to do them but hasn’t yet flown solo… be a pal and share this free info with them! 🙂 <3

After you’ve been working out for a while, typically you stop focusing so much on “looking” a certain way… And you start trying to figure out more ways you can get stronger, better, faster, etc. 🙂

Naturally, that’s when pullups start looking more and more appealing, especially to a strong girl!!

They take a specific technique & lots of functional strength to do though.

So here are 3 easy tips for starting pullups, if you’re a beginner or just starting:

 how to do a pullup

1) Pull the shoulder blades back and down 

This is the FIRST thing you should ALWAYS do before you even attempt a pullup. Squeeze your shoulder blades in towards your spine and down away from the ear lobes. This helps protect your shoulders and puts the load into your back muscles, not the shoulder girdle.

To master this movement and the awareness of what it feels like, hang from a bar and simply lift yourself up an inch or two by squeezing the shoulder blades in + down until your shoulders and neck relax. Practice 10 reps at a time (to fatigue), then try holding your shoulder blades there for 30 seconds.

Keep doing this until it feels easy for you and watch your pullups get 10x better!

2) Flip your grip: Narrow + Underhand is easiest 

When starting out, use a narrow, underhand grip (palms facing up); this allows for the recruitment of the biceps to help assist in load bearing.

Wide pullups target the lats more (those big, wing-like back muscles under your armpits). We actually personally don’t even do wide grip pullups anymore, simply because when we did, our lats got HUGE! We personally want to be able to fit into dresses without busting the zippers open — sad but true for our body type!!

But anyway, to each their own. In general, narrow grips are the easiest place to start. If you want to learn wide grip pullups, just start here and eventually progress to a narrow + overhand grip (palms facing down), and then over time start to spread out to a wider and wider grip til you’re satisfied.

Always remember though, shoulder blades STAY pulled back and down throughout the movement!

3) Use a heavy resistance band (do NOT use the assisted pullup machine)

We repeat, DO NOT use the assisted pullup machine!!

It’s the same reason we wouldn’t tell someone who wanted to run a marathon to run a million miles on a treadmill. When you use gym equipment in your training, the machines are doing a lot of the work FOR you.

Instead, your body needs to be the one doing the work. You need to be building functional strength where all your muscles (big & small) are working together as a unit.

Think about this… What would happen if you stopped actually walking on the treadmill?

The belt keeps going, with or without you. Duh.

So what does this mean? It means you’re not having to use your own body to create the movement. You’re not having to overcome the full force of gravity and other frictional forces in order to propel yourself forward.

It’s the same with the assisted pullup machine. It’s like a teeter totter almost; you’re kind of just going for a ride, not doing the real work required to lift your bodyweight. This easy, assisted movement is not going to help you REALLY activate all the necessary muscles for an unassisted pullup.

Instead, we always recommend having someone hold your feet OR using a heavy resistance band to do it instead.

To use a resistance band, simply secure the band around the bar first, then step 1 or 2 feet into it safely once you’ve already gotten your grip, before beginning. Over time, you can just lessen the amount of assistance you’re getting by choosing a lighter band or telling your gym buddy to ease up on the assist.

Seems strange, doesn’t it? That an “assisted pullup” machine might actually be detrimental to your goal of doing real pullups?? Seems weird, but it’s true!!

Those machines throw off your form and don’t recruit the right muscles at the right time, so they’re not encouraging the proper movement patterns or functional strength needed.


Okay, hopefully this helps!! Try these 3 tips out next time you’re at the gym or your local playground! Soon you’ll be doing pullups everywhere. 😉

If you practice regularly, you should be able to do a full unassisted pullup in about a month’s time… depending on your consistency, fitness level and ability.

Keep us posted, especially if you found this useful!

We’d love to see YOUR pullup pics!! To share yours with us, tag #gostronggirls or #gosupersisters on Instagram. <3


Your trainers,
Liz + Sara