Ladies: How To Do A Pull Up, Finally!

There is no faking a pull-up. It is the movement that is the crown jewel of female fitness. In the world of booty shots and insta photos using lighting to improve aesthetics, there is no denying one can pretend to do a pull up (no, I’m not talking about a popular swinging version of what a certain modality call a pull-up. Pulling muscles should be performed using muscle strength, not momentum). I’m talking about grabbing a bar and pulling yourself up till your chin reaches over the bar. No machines, no swinging.

The pull-up is the classic strength and muscle building exercise for the back and arms. It is not only the king of back exercises, it also give the abs and hips a great working out due to isometrics. No one can perform a pull up with weak abs and hips!

Anyone can develop an ass by doing donkey kicks every day, or abs can be shown just through nutrition alone. Pull ups must be earned. No matter how strong you think you are, pull-ups can be humbling, just ask our members in our Carlton gym.

I just want to do a pull up!

Why you ask? Most men cannot do one, so how am I?

Females can be especially intimidated by the bar, but let me assure you, women can do pull-ups and I’m going to show you. It might be a little more work and patience is needed (men may naturally have the strength, but you guys have the patience), but it is within the potential of every able-bodied woman to perform a pull-up.

Don’t be surprised if it takes you several months or even longer to build the strength needed. It can be done on its own or preferably added to any training program (if you are at a gym and not following a structured program, you’re not training) and needs to be done with high frequency and volume, 3x/week minimum with 2-3 sets/3-10 reps of x1 variation and x1 assistance per session.


Band Assisted (variation): Loop a resistance band around the bar and perform full range of motion (elbows just short of full lockout and raise till the chin comes over the bar) pull-up. When you are able to perform 10 reps, decrease the resistance of the band.


Eccentric Pull-Up (variation): This is essentially a pull-up with a slow lowering (eccentric) of the body. This is where you build the strength. Grab a bench or platform that allows you to jump onto the bar chin height and lower yourself as slowly and controlled as possible. This may seem difficult at first, but with time you will be able to lower yourself with control for 10 seconds or longer.


Inverted Row (Assistance): You can perform this with any horizontal bar or TRX system, the lower you are the harder the exercise becomes. Your goal is to reach 10 reps with the body in a straight line (heel to head) as horizontal as possible. This movement is great at conditioning the elbows and shoulders for the vertical hang. Make sure to keep the shoulder blades down and back - not shrugged. Start getting in to the habit of doing this. This is the most common error I see with people performing these movements and is essential to a successful pull-up.


Dead Hangs (assistance): What is the point of attempting a pull-up if you are unable to hold onto the bar long enough for a few reps. This will build grip strength and isometrically strength the shoulder and lats, while teaching how to pull the shoulders down and back. Contract the abs and squeeze the bum. Your body should be tight from your shoulders to your feet.

You should be gunning for a 1 minute active hang.

If you’re looking for a personal trainer in Melbourne CBD to help get your pull ups performed perfectly, contact us at