How to Start Calisthenics: 7 Steps To Pull Ups


How to Start Calisthenics: Pull ups

7 Steps To Pull Ups

Pull ups are part of the Calisthenics "Big 5": Pull ups, push ups, dips, squats, hinges.

Pull ups are the king of upper body movements, a challenge for everyone, even when you are good at it.

If you are getting started on your calisthenics training journey, here are 7 steps to achieve your first pull up:

  1. Standing pull ups
  2. Australian pull ups
  3. Deadhang
  4. Hanging shrugs
  5. Negative jump pull ups
  6. Band assisted pull ups
  7. Full Pull ups

Key pointers:

  • Start with the movement you can currently do and implement it in your workouts.
  • Do 5-10+ reps x 3-5 sets until you get good at that movement.
  • Then continue your way up with the next harder variation and do the same.
  • Follow that process until you reach the full pull up.
  • Make sure to also work on your push ups and legs during your sessions!
  • The key is: CONSISTENCY.

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My First 2024 Pull Up Workout!


My First 2024 Pull Up Workout!

I had to step back a bit from training my upper body for the last 4 weeks of 2023.

This was due to different minor injuries, some tendonitis and chronic fatigue, after a full 2023 year of constant, non-stop work and workouts.

I stayed active everyday and arranged my workouts around legs, running and core during the month of December.

I also did some rehab work with bands and active mobility (wrists, shoulders, hips, knees and feet).

Today was my first “real” pull-push day in a month. It was great to be back at it!

I used an additional gripping tool that you simply wrap up around the pull up bar to make the bar thicker and harder to grip.

It makes it almost impossible to wrap your thumb around the bar making the forearms and the entire pulling muscle chain work much harder.

The "fat grip" pull ups are a great tool if you want to build strong forearms and increase your pull ups. They make pull ups twice as hard!

Here is what my full workout...

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How Pull Ups Increase (advanced version)

How Pull Ups Increase!

These methods are great if you can already 12-15 solid pull ups.

Schedule 3 pull up sessions per week for 8-12 weeks.

Here is what each day-session looks like:

Day 1 - Pull Up Emom

  • Emom stand for "every minute on the minute". 
  • The rule is simple: you do as many reps as you can every minute, including rest.
  • You set a timer 5-10 minutes (sets).
  • Every minute is a set.

Day 2 - Weighted pull ups

A great way to train weighted pull ups is drop sets.

This is where you lower the weight set after set.

The trick is to start at you max weight-max reps and increase the amount of reps, for each set (every time you lower the weight).

Here is an example of what I do (6’1 - 177 lbs):

  • 115 lbs x 1 
  • 90 x 3 x 2 
  • 85 x 3
  • 70 x 3
  • 60 x 5
  • 55 x 5
  • 45 x 6
  • 35 x 6
  • 25 x 10
  • 10 x 10
  • 0 x 13
  • Bodyweight Australian rows x 23

If you don’t have that many weight options, then simply triple the amount of sets you do for each weight.

Test your max first and...

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12 Weeks To Double Your Pull Ups

12 Weeks To Double Your Pull Ups

Earlier I covered how to get started with pull ups.

Today I want to share a tested plan to boost your max pull-ups. 

Whether you're a beginner or a pull-up enthusiast, this three-day-per-week pull up program is designed to take you to the next level. 

Let's dive in and double that max of yours!

this plan works great for anyone currently able to do 4-12 pull ups. 

It still works if you are above that but I’ll write another article to cover this in depth.

You would use that pull up program every other day.

Day 1 - Max reps Sets

This is the day where we run our max sets.

This time we go for 5 sets of your maximum repetitions. 

This mean you have to keep good form through all the reps and not kip for it to count!

Note that you can use a light band during set 4 and 5 if your strength starts to be low. You can also stop after set 3 or 4 if you can’t get any repetition.

The goal is progress to 5 sets overtime.

Rest 3-5...

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Get The Best Bang For Your Buck With These Pull Ups!

pull ups Oct 22, 2023

The Best Pull Ups For Strength!

If you can already to 15-20 clean pull ups, this is for you.

One of the best way to train weighted calisthenics is the drop set method.

This is a technique where you start with the hardest repetitions.

Do as many as you can.

Then you lower the weight, just a little, and try to add more repetitions than during the previous set.

And so on.

Rest 3-5 minutes between sets.

Here is the pull ups drop set I did last week while training with my friends in Venice Beach.

It took us about an hour to complete.

  • + 115 lbs x 1 
  • 90 x 3 x 2 
  • 85 x 3
  • 70 x 3
  • 60 x 5
  • 55 x 5
  • 45 x 6
  • 35 x 6
  • 25 x 10
  • 10 x 10
  • 0 x 13
  • Bodyweight rows x 23

Our backs felt good after this one!

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How To Do Advanced Pull Up Shrugs

pull ups Oct 14, 2023

How To Do Advanced Pull Up Shrugs

The "Arched" Scapula Pulls or "Hollow Back" pulls are great to strengthen your back.

This a rather advanced movement which goal is to control your mid-back extension through the shoulder blade shrug pull. 

So do not attempt if you are a beginner or lack proper back strength and mobility.

You have to guide the whole movement through your glutes, core, mid-back and shoulder blades.

Make sure to externally rotate your shoulders, by trying to "bend the bar" as you pull.

Performing this move requires good back-core strength, and overhead mobility foundations!

This exercise is also great improve front and back lever control.

Here is another exercise you can do to get a better front lever and overall back strength!

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From 3 to 8 Pull Ups In Less Than 3 Months!

pull ups results Oct 05, 2023

From 3 to 8 Pull Ups In Less Than 3 Months!

Pull ups are a staple calisthenics skill to master, before moving up to harder moves.

So if you are currently learning how to do do pull ups or how to get better at it, this is for you!

I started training Danielle less than 3 months ago. 

She could then do almost 3 pull ups. She can now do 8 pull ups!

The initial goal was simple: get better at pull ups. 

We set a goal to reach 10 by the end of the year. I think she can even get to 12.

Here is what we did during the last 3 months to more than double her pull ups:

  • Daily training with the Online Calisthenics Level 2 program
  • Scapular mobility, with an emphasis on shoulder blade shrugs for elevation, abduction and retraction.
  • Classic pull up sets
  • Band assisted pull ups
  • Isolated shoulder blade work with light bands and sticks, in all directions. 
  • Isometric holds at various angles in the pull up to strengthen the full range of motion.
  • Push up shrugs
  • Wrist conditioning drills...
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Quick Calisthenics Pull Ups and Push Ups Challenge


Try This Quick Calisthenics Pull Ups and Push Ups Challenge!

I wanted to try a quick calisthenics challenge: do 50 pull ups and 100 push ups, as fast as possible.

It's way more challenging than it sounds.

The hard variable is time. Trying to complete all the repetitions in a short time is where it gets tricky.

Your rest time is minimum and each repetition gets harder as you go.

1- For the pull ups, I split the sets as follow: 10-10-10-5-5-5-5

My time for the pull ups was: 6min 40 sec.

I started pretty good on the first 3 sets of 10, with about 20-30 sec rest in between. Things started getting tough around the last 2 sets of pull ups where I had to struggle my way up.

Here is how to get better at pull ups if you are getting started!

I took about a minute to reset the tripod between pull ups and push ups.

2- For the push ups, I did: 30-25-20-15-10

My total time after the push ups was: 9 min 50 sec.

While the goal was to rest as little as possible, my form started to suffer after my...

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The Most Controversial Pull Ups!

pull ups workout tips Aug 23, 2023

The Most Controversial Pull Ups!

In case you are wondering, I am talking about the “Behind the Neck Pull ups”.

I have had many people ask me if they were safe to do.

The answer is yes! But it’s only good If you are strong enough to back it up.

It's actually recommended to work towards it. Indeed, this will imply you work towards getting bullet proof shoulders.

So how to perform the Behind the neck properly?

Make sure to keep your shoulders externally rotated at the top of the pull up. That's a key point. Don’t let your elbows go too high or far behind you. Keep them as close to you as possible.

Otherwise you will most likely feel a pinch in your shoulder and could end up impinging it.

You also need to keep a tight core and hollow body position as you perform the move. 

Go for 5 reps x 5 sets. Add isometric holds and adapt rep count depending on your level.

What if you can’t do it yet?

I could not do those either when I started, so I...

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Venice Beach Calisthenics Knock Out Competition

pull ups Aug 01, 2023

Venice Beach Calisthenics Knock Out Competition!

Check out some highlights of this Calisthenics Knock Out style competition!

This was a lot of fun!

Each participant got a 3 min round to get the most points out of there run (tricks, statics, style). 

Each apparatus had to be dismounted, meaning you had to make an “exit” out of it. For example, do a flip, or any sort of cool tricks to exit the apparatus and move to another one.

Each participant was stopped whenever they failed at a dismount or had to redo a trick. 

The round was ended and moved on to the next participant, and so on.

Watch some great Live replays here!

Use these timestamps:

1- Dan: 0:00

2 - Participant 2: 3:40

3 - Mark: 2:42

4 - Emy 1:12

It was a great day in Venice Beach with amazing calisthenics performances.

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