Pull-ups are a great exercise for building upper body strength and muscle mass. They are also a challenging exercise, and it can be difficult to learn how to do them, especially if you are a beginner. However, with the right training program and a little bit of patience, it is definitely possible to learn how to do pull-ups.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about pull-ups, including the basics of the exercise, how to set realistic goals, and find a good training program. With a little bit of hard work and dedication, you’ll be doing pull-ups in no time!

This plan will focus on building both physical strength and mental resilience. It’s important to remember that progress will be slow and steady, and that’s okay. Patience and consistency are the key to achieving your goal.

First, let’s talk about the pull-up. A pull-up is a compound exercise that primarily works the muscles in your back, biceps, and forearms, but also engages your shoulders and your core. To do a pull-up, you’ll need to develop strength in all of these areas.

Physical Training Plan

  1. Understanding Your Current Strength Level First, test yourself to see if you can do a pull-up. If you can’t, that’s okay. This is just to establish a baseline. It’s important to understand where you’re starting from so you can measure your progress.
  2. Building Basic Strength with Bodyweight Exercises
    • Push-ups: Start by doing push-ups to build up your upper body strength. Make sure to use proper form. Start with a set of as many reps as you can do comfortably. Add one more rep each day.
    • Planks: Planks will help strengthen your core, which is important for pull-ups. Start with holding a plank for as long as you can, then add a few seconds each day.
    • Inverted Rows: These can be done under a table or with a Smith machine at a gym. They mimic the pull-up motion and will help strengthen the same muscles.
  3. Working on Pull-Up Specific Exercises
    • Assisted Pull-ups: Use a resistance band or an assisted pull-up machine at a gym. This will allow you to do pull-ups with some of your body weight taken off.
    • Negative Pull-ups: Jump or use a step to get to the top position of a pull-up, then lower yourself down as slowly as possible. This will help you get used to the motion of a pull-up and build strength.
  4. Tracking Progress
    • Record your workouts. Note down how many reps and sets you’re doing, and how you’re feeling. This will help you see your progress over time.
    • Test yourself regularly. Every few weeks, try to do a pull-up without assistance. You may be surprised at your progress!

Assisted Pull-ups

  • Resistance bands: Resistance bands are a great way to add assistance to your pull-ups. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. To use a resistance band for pull-ups, simply loop the band around the bar and place one foot in the loop. The band will provide you with some assistance, making it easier to do pull-ups.
  • Assisted pull-up machine: Assisted pull-up machines are also a great way to add assistance to your pull-ups. They are typically found at gyms. To use an assisted pull-up machine, simply adjust the weight to the amount of assistance you need. Then, grab the bar and pull yourself up.

Negative Pull-ups

  • Jump or use a step: To do a negative pull-up, you will need to jump or use a step to get yourself into the top position of a pull-up. Once you are in the top position, slowly lower yourself down until your arms are fully extended.
  • Lower yourself slowly: It is important to lower yourself slowly during a negative pull-up. This will help you build strength and control.

Tips for Assisted Pull-ups and Negative Pull-ups

  • Start with a few reps: When you first start doing assisted pull-ups or negative pull-ups, start with a few reps. As you get stronger, you can gradually increase the number of reps you do.
  • Do them regularly: The more you do assisted pull-ups and negative pull-ups, the stronger you will get. Try to do them at least 3 times a week.
  • Be patient: It takes time and patience to build the strength necessary to do pull-ups. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t do a pull-up right away. Just keep practicing and you will eventually reach your goal.

Mental Training Plan

  1. Setting Realistic Goals
    • Start small: It’s okay to aim for just one pull-up at first. Once you can do one, aim for two, and so on.
    • Be patient: Strength training takes time. Don’t be discouraged if progress is slow.
  2. Staying Motivated
    • Find a workout buddy: Having someone to train with can make workouts more fun and help keep you accountable.
    • Celebrate progress: Every pull-up you can do is a victory. Be proud of your progress, no matter how small.
  3. Building a Positive Mindset
    • Visualize success: Imagine yourself doing a pull-up. Visualization can help make your goal feel more achievable.
    • Use positive affirmations: Remind yourself that you are strong and capable. This can help boost your confidence and motivation.
  4. Dealing with Setbacks
    • Don’t beat yourself up: If you have a bad workout or miss a day, it’s not the end of the world. Just get back on track the next day.
    • Learn from failures: If you’re struggling with pull-ups, try to figure out why. Do you need to work on your grip strength? Do you need to engage your core more? Use failures as learning opportunities.

Remember, your goal is achievable. It will take time and effort, but with consistent training and a positive mindset, you can get there.

Remember, Assisted Pull-ups Are Your Friend!

Assisted pull-ups are a great way to work on the muscles used during pull-ups, but with a portion of your body weight supported. This allows you to build strength and get used to the movement pattern of the pull-up.

  1. Resistance Band Assisted Pull-ups:
    • Choose a resistance band that takes off enough weight to allow you to complete at least 5-10 pull-ups. The band should be heavy duty and designed for pull-up assistance.
    • To set up the band, loop it over the pull-up bar and pull one end through the other, securing it onto the bar. Make sure it’s tightly fastened.
    • Stand on a box or a bench and put one foot (or knee for more assistance) into the loop of the band. Grab the pull-up bar with both hands, using the grip that you find most comfortable.
    • Begin the pull-up by pulling your shoulder blades down and back, bending your elbows, and pulling yourself up towards the bar. You should aim to get your chin over the bar.
    • Lower yourself back down in a controlled manner until your arms are fully extended, and then repeat.
    • As you get stronger, you can use lighter bands, which provide less assistance.
  2. Machine Assisted Pull-ups:
    • These machines use weight to counterbalance your own body weight. The more weight you set on the machine, the easier the pull-ups will be.
    • Stand on the platform and set the desired weight. Hold onto the handles with your palms facing away from you. Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
    • Engage your core and pull your elbows down, lifting your body up. Try to get your chin over the bar.
    • Lower yourself in a slow and controlled manner until your arms are fully extended, then repeat.

Negative Pull-ups

Negative pull-ups, also known as eccentric pull-ups, focus on the lowering phase of the movement. This phase is crucial for building strength.

  • Stand on a box or a bench under the pull-up bar. Grab the bar with both hands using the grip you prefer (palms facing away is the standard grip).
  • Jump up or use the box/bench to get your chin above the bar. This is your starting position.
  • Now comes the important part: lower yourself as slowly as you can. Aim for at least 3-5 seconds, but the slower the better. As you get stronger, try to extend this time.
  • Once your arms are fully extended, you can let go of the bar and step back onto the box/bench. That’s one rep.
  • Negative pull-ups can be very taxing, so start with just a few and gradually try to add more as you get stronger.

With both of these exercises, form is key. Make sure to engage your core and pull your shoulder blades back and down before you begin the movement. Try to avoid swinging or using momentum to get yourself up. The movement should be controlled and deliberate.

One final note: these exercises can be tough on your hands, so consider using gym gloves or hand wraps if you start to develop blisters or calluses.

Progressing Your Training

  1. Gradual Progression As your strength increases, you should gradually try to do more. This could mean:
    • Reducing the assistance on your assisted pull-ups.
    • Increasing the number of negative pull-ups you do in a set.
    • Trying to do a full pull-up at the start of each workout, when you’re freshest.
  2. Advanced Training Techniques Once you can do one or two pull-ups, consider adding some more advanced techniques to your training:
    • Weighted pull-ups: Add a small amount of weight using a weighted vest or a belt with a weight plate. Start with just a few pounds and gradually increase.
    • Varying grip: Try doing pull-ups with different grips (e.g., palms facing away, palms facing towards you, one hand in each direction). This can help work your muscles in different ways and prevent plateaus.

Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

  1. Rest and Recovery
    • Make sure to take rest days. Your muscles grow and repair themselves during rest, not while you’re working out. Aim for at least one full rest day per week, and don’t work the same muscle group two days in a row.
    • Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is crucial for muscle recovery.
  2. Nutrition
    • Eat a balanced diet. Make sure you’re getting plenty of protein, which your body needs to build muscle.
    • Stay hydrated. Water is essential for all bodily functions, including muscle function.

Staying Positive and Motivated

  1. Building Resilience
    • Accept that there will be setbacks. Some days you might not be able to do as many pull-ups as you did the day before. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re failing, it’s just part of the process.
    • Keep your end goal in mind. Remember why you’re doing this. Whether it’s to improve your health, gain strength, or achieve a personal goal, keep that in mind when things get tough.
  2. Seeking Support
    • Consider hiring a personal trainer or coach, even for a few sessions. They can provide valuable feedback on your form and program.
    • Join a community. Whether it’s a local fitness class, an online forum, or a group of friends who also like to work out, having people to share your journey with can make it more enjoyable and help keep you motivated.


Remember, progress isn’t linear. You might have good days and bad days, but as long as you keep showing up and putting in the effort, you will get stronger and you will get closer to your goal of doing ten pull-ups. Celebrate every victory, no matter how small, and remember that you’re doing this for you. You’ve got this!

In conclusion, pull-ups are a great exercise for building upper body strength and muscle mass. They are also a challenging exercise, but with the right training program and a little bit of patience, it is definitely possible to learn how to do them. I hope this guide has been helpful. Good luck!

Image by Hendrik Hausen from Pixabay