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4 Exercises To Help You To Build Strength For Pull-ups

4 Exercises To Help You To Build Strength For Pull-ups

  1. Are you looking to build strength for pull-ups? 
  2. Are you struggling to improve your pull-up numbers? 
  3. Do you feel weak and limited with your pull-ups? 
  4. Are you failing to progress your strength with the pull-up movement? 

You need to build strength for pull-ups. The chin up, or pull-up is probably one of the most challenging bodyweight exercises as it involves you having to pull your body from a dead hang position until your chin gets above the bar.

There’s no hiding from this movement. Sure plenty of folks try to cheat it with some sort of assist, but in order for you to pull your body up from a dead hanging position from the bar you need brute force strength…period.

Build Strength For Pull-ups

First of all, I’m going to rundown some of the muscle groups you need to strengthen in order to pull off this feat and then I’ll run you through some killer progressions to help build up your pull-up power.

Muscles to strengthen to pull off a pull-up…

Hands (grip strength)




Now as the old saying goes there’s more than one way to skin a cat which in this case means there’s certainly more than one way you can go about building up the strength of the previously mentioned muscles in order to improve your pull-ups.

Inverted Rows:

Inverted rows are a great variation for you to start managing to pull your bodyweight up to a bar while also allowing you to redistribute and control how much resistance you want.

To perform inverted rows you will want to lie on the ground underneath a barbell that is suspended above you either on a smith machine, or squat rack. TRX straps will also work for inverted rows.

All you have to do is adjust the height of the bar, or straps so that you can lie below it, but still have space between your back and the ground once you grip the bar (or straps) with your arms fully extended.

From here you can make the inverted row easier by bending both of your knees to 90 degrees keeping your feet on the ground. To advance this you can simply lift one foot off of the ground causing you to support more of your bodyweight.

To advance it even further straighten your legs all the way out and place your heels on the ground which will redistribute even more of your bodyweight to your arms.

Man with heavy dumbbell in hand performing a single arm dumbbell row.

Build strength for pull-ups by jumping on my 30 Introductory Bodyweight Workouts. Just click the image to get started.

Single Arm Dumbbell Rows:

This is a great exercise because all you need is a dumbbell and a bench. Performing the single arm dumbbell row will allow to place your shoulder girdle at a different angle so that your torso is perpendicular to the weight as you allow the weight to hang below your lat and torso.

This takes stress off of your shoulder girdle while also allowing you to emphasize a pull (or row) with a full range of motion (ROM). The single arm dumbbell row is also great for challenging your forearm and grip strength.

Band Assisted Pull-ups

This is a great way to use an assist to increase your pull-up, or chin-up volume. By attaching a thick lifting band to the bar and wrapping it under one of your knees as you suspend from the bar to do a pull-up, or chin-up the band is going to assist you in your ascent to the bar.

If you’re in need of building pull-up strength this assist will allow you to practice pulling your body up. Understand you’ll be pulling less of your body weight up due to the help of the band. Even though you will be pulling less of your bodyweight you will still be pulling a good percentage of it to build strength in the pull-up movement.

A view from the ground of a guy performing pull-ups with his chest at the bar.

Build strength for pull-ups by jumping on my 30 Introductory Bodyweight Workouts. Just click the image to order.

Slow Descent From The Bar

Another way to build significant strength for the pull-up is to implement a slower descent from the bar.

Keep in mind when you’re either lowering your body away from the bar during a pull-up, or during an inverted row this is what is known as the eccentric portion of your muscles’ contraction.

The eccentric part of a muscular contraction is the lengthening of the muscle while under tension. This stage of your muscles’ contraction is the part of the contraction that exerts the most force and tension. This really exerts the muscle during the movement.

Because there is more tension and force involved with the eccentric contraction you will stand to build more strength for the movement!

Build Strength For Pull-Ups: The Takeaway

If you expect to get true results from your strength and conditioning program you have got to master pull-ups.

Are you currently building strength with your pull-ups? 

How often do you practice your pull-ups? 

Post up in the comments here below and share with us. 




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I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

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