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How To Learn Pull Ups in 3 Simple Steps

I program Pull Ups in several of the HI-JRT workouts. They are a great bodyweight movement to build solid upper body strength. However, not everyone is able to do pull ups yet, and I often get asked if there is a way to modify them.

Yes, there are a few different ways you can modify a pull up so you can gain strength and work your way up to completing your first strict pull up. I am going to explain 3 modifications, starting with the easiest to the most difficult. This way, you can assess your own ability and choose the method that is best for you.

Modification #1 – Banded Pull Down

This modification requires a band with handles. You will first need to attach the middle of the band to a high anchor point, around the hinge part of a door works well. Next, grab the handles with your palms facing the floor. Take a few steps back to create some tension in the band, then kneel down on the floor. Lean forward with a flat back, raise your arms out straight in front of you, with your head between your biceps.

With your hands still facing the floor, slowly pull the band down towards your shoulders until your hands are by your ears. Pause for a couple seconds, and then slowly extend you arms back out straight. That completes one rep.

This is a great modification if you are currently unable to lift your own body weight, and need to strengthen your upper body while still learning the proper pull up form.


Modification #2 – Jumping Pull Up

This method requires a box or other study platform placed beneath a pull up bar. The box must be high enough that you are able to reach the pull up bar with a firm grip and be able to bend your knees. While standing on the box and holding onto the bar, bend your knees and jump up in front of the bar so your chin goes over the top. Then, lower yourself back down onto the box. That is one rep. This method allows you to use your lower body strength to begin the pull up, but then rely on some upper body strength to complete the pull up.


Modification #3 – Banded Pull Up

This modification requires a looped band. Wrap the band around a sturdy pull up bar so you have a loop at the bottom. Next, place one foot in the loop of the band and straighten your leg. Next, grab the pull up bar with your palms facing forward and initialize a pull up. The tension in the band will assist you and take some of the weight away from your arms. Once your chin is above the bar, slowly lower yourself back to the starting position. That completes one rep. This should be the last modification before moving onto fully unassisted pull ups. You can experiment with different strength bands, using just enough assistance that you need.


I hope this helps you complete the HI-JRT workouts and bring you closer to completing your first unassisted pull up. Be sure to check out all the complete HI-JRT fitness programs

Have a great day!

Chris McCarthy