How To Train To Do A Pullup

How To Do A Pull upFor many woman doing a perfect pushups on their toes seems like an elusive thing that “woman” just don’t do.  Well for pretty much everyone doing my Fit Fun Bootcamps, MamaTone, and Fit Moms For Life DVDs, doing perfect pushups on their toes isn’t a matter of if, it is a matter of how many.  The average woman in my programs within 6 months can do at least 30 pushups, and many can do over 50.

Once someone gets over a certain amount, maybe around 30 ish, pushups aren’t as exciting and don’t pose much of a challenge.  What I have found to be all the rage right now is the desire to do a pullup.  Based on my experience a pullup is about 20 times harder than a pushup for woman.  Pullups are so difficult because a person has to pull their entire body straight up.  I was unable to find data on what % of woman can do a pullup, but I bet it is 1 in 10,000 at best.  That is why I am so proud that I have at least 25 woman I know for sure can do pullups.

Pullups are one of the greatest upperbody toning exercises, it tones the upper/mid back (bra fat area), arms (especially biceps), shoulders (especially the back shoulders), and works the abs more than most people realize.  It also works a lot of forearm muscles which translates into stronger grip strength which is very import if you have ever tried to open an old jar that just won’t budge.

How do you get started to work your way up to pullups?

Check out this video to learn how.

Question of the day:  What are your thoughts on pullups?  Have you done them?  How many can you do?  Have you ever thought of this as a goal?


  1. Bra fat ugh! Glad to add these moves to my fat arsenal. Although I always felt that I’m working my lats mostly doing these moves, is there something wrong with my form?

    • Heather,

      If you feel like you have strong lats, the issue might be that there is additional fat in that area. Then the solution is the classic, eat better, just like training the core alone doesn’t guarantee a flat stomach, neither does doing pullups, but it can help.


  2. Being a former gymnast I appreciate the shout out! I used to do them all the time for conditioning in high school. After I stopped doing gymnastics I had not done pull ups in years until I started doing MammaTone 2 years ago. So that is 20 years later! It was tough, I could still do a few, which was good I thought. At this point the most I have done is 7, over hand grip. I will have to try the under hand grip and see how many I can do! Good challenge for 2011!! 🙂

  3. Used to do pull ups when climbing trees as a kid, then swinging my legs up to the branch (a long, long time ago!). I often look wistfully at the rope hanging from the ceiling at Marsue’s Bootcamp in Oregon…used to climb to the top of the rope in my Middle School days. Great new challenge, Dustin; thanks for the instruction. I’m up for it; new goals are always good for motivation! Any suggestions on creating a pull up bar at home?

    • Jo,

      Pullup bars are pretty cheap these days and can be attached to a door, I would do that rather than try to make something homemade. If you have exposed rafters you probably could attach a bar or rings pretty easily but that would be about it.


  4. Great post! I remember doing chin ups and pull ups as a kid, but WOW are these hard now that I’m an adult. I practice at the park on the monkey bars. It was a challenge just to see how long I could hang (arms straight), then started “walking” the bars. Now I can walk several monkey bars and practice hanging with my chin up over the bar. I would like to get a chinning bar at home and will look into what is available. My arms need all the help they can get, and this will help balance out my pear shape.

  5. Great Post Dustin! I like your video. Nice job Abby. I’m impressed. One of my goals for the end of 2010 was to be able to do 5 pull ups. I can do 3 pull ups now. I fell a little short of my goal but with the help from this video I know I will be up to 5 soon. Thanks for the helpful post and video.

  6. Awesome video Dustin! Do you know what would make it even better? If Abby was wearing her weight vest!

  7. Pullups are my 2011 fitness goal! I live 3-5 blocks from 3 different playgrounds, and my kids are almost old enough to do the monkey bars. Who better than dear old mom to teach them how! 🙂 Exercise=Life skill

  8. Great post! I will add this to my 2011 goals! The suggestions on how to buildup to a pull up is excellent!


  9. Seems like you have some takers for this challenge. How cool would it be if next year at this time you did a video just of women in your programs doing pullups?

  10. Dustin,

    I have done these at the gym. The pull ups I do is on a machine that you set the weighs to let say 160 and then you let yourself go down and then you pull up. If you take the 160 and minus it from your orginal body weight that tells you how much you are pulling. I have gotten mine up to 20lbs and I do 2 sets of 10. Not only does it tell me how strong I’m getting but I love the results I see when I do them.

  11. Goal for 2011!

  12. The pull-ups we did at Mamatone on Wednesday were great…and tough!!! Three days later, my arms are still sore, sore, sore. I do feel proud, though, to have done 26 (very) assisted pull-ups. I like the techniques you show in the video for building pull-up skills. Thanks!

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