Can’t Do a Single Pull Up? Here’s How to Change That

When most of us are confronted with a pull up bar, it’s a humbling experience. No matter how strong you think you are, pull ups are really hard for most of us, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

If doing a single pull up seems like a pipe dream, I’m here to tell you that it’s not. If you really want to, you can teach yourself how to do a full, unassisted pull up. It takes a little training, but you absolutely can get there.

To be honest, it’s probably healthy for all of us to be capable of lifting up our own body weight, right? Seems like a useful skill.

Get ready to feel like a badass—you’ve got this! Here are a few tricks to help you get strong enough to do a pull up.

Young attractive woman in chaturanga dandasana pose, loft studio

Practice slow eccentric push ups.

This is the downward motion of the push up—the same movement as chaturanga in yoga. Although this usually feels like the easier of the two motions, it can be a powerful strengthening tool when you make one change: slow it way down.

Starting in a plank position, lower your body to the ground by bending your arms only. Allow it to take 10 to 30 seconds to lower your nose to the floor—yeah, we’re talking really slow. Then, drop your knees to the ground, push yourself back to your starting plank, and do three to five reps.

Even if you’re a strong push-upper, you’ll really notice your areas of weakness. When you’re moving slowly, there’s no place to hide, meaning every single muscle fiber gets worked. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you improve.

Once you get a little stronger and start holding a bar, you can jump yourself into a chin up position and slowly lower in the same manner for eccentric pull ups.

Use elastics.

Wrap an elastic band around the pull up bar (your gym surely has some), grab the bar, put your feet in the band, and do some pull ups. Depending on the weight of the elastic, these take a significant amount of weight off your arms, allowing you to practice pull ups with less body weight pulling you down.

The stronger you get, the lighter the band you’ll be able to use until, eventually, you’ll be able to use no band at all!

If you’re not into full gym workouts, you could also try indoor rock climbing, which will make those pull up muscles steadily stronger over time. It’s a similar process.

Senior man exercising at the park.

Get positive.

If you’re already fairly fit, remember that pull ups are all in your head. No matter how strong you are, there is no way you’re going to get your chin over than bar if you’re stuck in a negative mindset.

Drop your ego (yes, self-deprecation is part of the ego, too), try to clear your mind and trust your body. If you want it, you’ll get up there. If you’re feeling embarrassed/like a failure the very second you place your fingers on the bar, you probably won’t lift yourself more than a few inches. The mind is a powerful tool. Don’t let yours get in the way.

Doing a full pull up on your own can be an empowering experience—and you CAN do it! Put in 10 minutes of effort every day and within a month, you’ll be stronger and more confident than ever before. See you at the bar!

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62 comments

Peggy B
Peggy B22 hours ago

Noted

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hELEN h
hELEN hyesterday

tyfs

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Jacob S
Jacob S2 days ago

Thanks

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Olivia H
Olivia H4 days ago

tyfs

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David C
David C12 days ago

thanks do your best

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Caitlin L
Caitlin L18 days ago

Thanks

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Hannah A
Hannah A19 days ago

thanks

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Daniel N
John N21 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Jan S
Jacob S23 days ago

Thank you

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Lara A
Lara A24 days ago

tyfs

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