How To Get Better At Pull Ups With Calisthenics

online calisthenics May 30, 2023

Today, we're going to discuss how to improve your pull-ups and overall calisthenics skills.

The key to enhancing your pull-up performance and overall calisthenics strength lies in developing better grip strength. Throughout this blog post I'll explain how to achieve a stronger false grip. So let's get started.

We'll begin with understanding what false gripping is. False gripping involves keeping your wrists up while pulling. Many beginners make the mistake of pulling straight from their biceps without engaging their forearm enough. It's important to remember that stronger forearms enhance all pulling and pushing exercises, as well as static holds like levers, back levers, and handstands. So, let's start with the beginner version of false grip training.

Find a bar that's not too high, like a parallel bar at hip level. Lie under the bar and keep your wrists up, activating your forearms. From this position, try to pull yourself up, using a little help from your legs. The secret to a solid false grip is squeezing your thumbs as tightly as possible while pulling. Squeeze your hands and thumbs, forming a claw, and pull with maximum strength. Initially, it might feel challenging, but over time, you'll feel the difference in your forearms.

Now, let's move on to the intermediate version. Again, use the lower bar as in the beginner version. Start similarly, with your wrists up, and pull yourself up with your legs supporting the movement. As you ascend and descend, it's crucial to emphasize the shrugging motion of your shoulders. This shrugging action not only helps with your grip strength but also activates the entire chain of muscles, resulting in improved overall movement. Remember to shrug your shoulders up and use your legs to support the pulling motion. You'll feel the engagement between your lats and forearms, which is the first step towards becoming stronger in pulling exercises.

Now, let's progress to the intermediate version. We'll continue working with the lower bar, but this time, we won't touch the ground. Start in a similar fashion as before, with your wrists up, and pull yourself up using your feet. Once you reach the top or middle section, release your feet and hold yourself in that position. Pay attention to the details that matter while hanging.  A good false grip puts your wrist slightly above the bar, indicating a strong grip. To enhance the engagement, focus on activating your lats by shrugging your shoulders and tucking your pelvis in, keeping your glutes and core tight. Aim to hold this position for as long as possible.

To get better with the movement, you can incorporate mini reps. Start from the middle position and gradually go higher, working your way up. You can also expand your range of motion once you're comfortable with the exercise. However, remember to keep your elbows tucked in, allowing your shoulders to remain slightly open. 

Now, let's move on to the advanced version. Once you're comfortable with the beginner and intermediate variations on a lower bar, it's time to challenge yourself with a higher bar, approximately six to eight feet from the ground. Here, you'll focus on dead hangs, tuck dead hangs, and shrugs. These three movements greatly contribute to improving your calisthenics grip strength, and you'll feel a good burn in your forearms.

During the advanced version, pay attention to how you grip the bar. Angle your hand slightly, allowing your thumb to properly grab the bar. Maintain external shoulder rotation, open pecs, and squeezed shoulder blades. Keep your wrists up, pelvis tilted, and back straight. To activate your core further, you can tuck your knees up. Remember to keep your legs together and avoid arching your back. Arching limits the effectiveness of the exercise.

That wraps up today's blog post on how to improve your pull-ups with a false grip. Practicing this technique will greatly impact your calisthenics progress. If it feels too easy at first, increase the hanging time. You should be able to hang for at least a full minute on a high bar to assess your grip strength. Try to exceed a minute and a half or even two minutes for an impressive grip. If you're looking for additional challenges, consider incorporating L-sits, V-sits, or leg flutters, which you can find in my program, as well as on YouTube and Instagram.

Here is another secret to improve your pull ups: build strong shoulders!

Let’s go!


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