How to Get a Pull-Up, part 2!

Last time we discussed the first steps in building strength for a pull-up- rows and hangs. (Read part 1-  )

Today I’ll take you to the next progressions- Chin-over-bar hold and a Negative pull-up.


For these 2 drills, you’ll want to find a bar you can hang from, preferably not too high off the ground. You may also want to have a box, bench, chair, or some other sturdy platform to stand on to help you get your chin above the bar.


Chin-Over-Bar Hold.

We will practice this hold with 2 different grips. Working both grips will help develop more strength!

Place hands on the bar, palms facing you, thumbs at about shoulder width (slightly narrower grip than we used in the hangs from part 1). If you are on a surface that allows you to have your chin already at or higher than the bar, great! All you need to do is lift your feet. If your chin is not yet above the bar, you’ll need to jump and pull to get it there. In the beginning, this drill is much easier if you can start with your chin over the bar versus jumping to get it there. Once you get your chin over the bar and you are supporting your weight with your arms, hold it!! Try to work up to 5 seconds at first, then 10 seconds. If you can make it to 30 seconds, you are really crushing it!!!


Not able to keep your chin above the bar when you lift your feet? No worries- most people are right where you are when they first start! So instead of lifting the feet completely, we will use what we call a “toe assist”- try using just your tip-toes to help support you, taking some of the work off of your arms. As this becomes easier, trying lifting one foot while using just the toes of the of the other foot to help. Eventually, lift both feet!


Then, time to switch grip. Place hands on the bar, palms facing away from you, thumbs as wide as shoulders. Repeat the same process as the previous “palms-facing you” drill.


Perform this drill 2 times per week, accumulating 30 seconds in each position.


Pull-up Negatives.

There’s a lot of positives in a negative!! These help build strength throughout the pull-up range of motion, and they help you find that weak spot. Once you find that weak spot, you can really focus on it and strengthen it!

To start, place hands on the bar, palms facing out, thumbs as wide as shoulders. Jump (or use a box or other study platform) to get your chin above the bar. Next, lower yourself as slowly as possible until your arms are fully extended and you’ve reached “the bottom”. The key here is SLOWLY. At first try for 3 seconds from start to finish (start is when your chin is above the bar and you initiate the descent), then go for 5 seconds. Pay careful attention to the speed throughout the descent. Do you go really slow at the top, but then lose control and speed up at the bottom? Congrats, you just found the weak spot! Now you can try to focus more energy on slowing down through the bottom.

If you have a difficult time controlling the speed of the descent and just tend to drop straight down, use the toe assist method from the chin-over-bar hangs, or you can use a resistance band to help.


Start with 3 sets of 3 negatives, resting 2 to 3 minutes between sets. Goal is to work up to a 5 second negative (at an even speed through the entirety of the descent). Perform 2 times per week.

Extra credit: Repeat with palms facing you!


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If you’d like more help with pull-ups, or perhaps you have a different goal, schedule a free No Sweat intro and we can sit down and discuss your goals and determine how we can best help you!!


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