“I Want To Do a Pull-Up; Just One!”

My purpose in this post is to give many of my social media followers that aren’t my clients (yet) access to information that they may not know. I think about how my clients have many goals they’d like to accomplish and are noticed by other followers who inquire about similar goals. This lead me to wanting to blog about things I teach to my clients in hope that it may help someone. This could potentially help those that haven’t been reached by other BIG fitness social media platforms.


In my line of work, I always hear my female clients express how they would just LOVE to be able to do JUST ONE pull-up with no assistance. As a Life Trainer, of course I take that as a challenge I go about it the best way I know how, which is by targeting the muscles the help fulfill that pull-up. It’s in every beginners dream to be able to do a pull-up at some point and time in life; just one! Of course at first that seems so far fetched and many think that they won’t experience that day. Well I’m here to tell you that it’s definitely not impossible, you just have to be consistent and dedicated to working the proper muscle groups.


These are some of the major muscles used during the pull-up.

The main muscle you’ll be working in the midst of working on your pull-ups is the Latissimus Dorsi (shown above). You can strengthen this muscle by doing Lat pull downs as well as seated pull-ups which are pull ups from the ground (as seen below). Sit with legs crossed and use your legs as little as possible and pull-ups by engaging your Lats. Pulls ups are mainly considered to be analogous to the lat pull down; they may be substituted for one another as well. The muscles that are activated during early parts of the pull up are the Teres major, Pec major, Biceps, Lats and the Infraspinatus. You will feel some activation in your biceps during the pull motion; it’s perfectly normal. Three sets of 8 should suffice as a beginner, as you get better at it increase reps and sets.

Beginner: Seated Pull-ups

Spread pinky’s to clear strip on the bar for proper hand positioning.
Use legs as less as possible to help guide you up during the pull up phase.

Negative Pull-ups (slow release)

Pull yourself up to the bar. Release slow to shock muscles even more!

Negative pull-ups helps as a progression exercise in actually performing a full pull-up. The negative refers to the eccentric phase (lowering) of the conventional pull up, this initial part is easier than the pulling up. This is mainly because you are now working with gravity versus working against gravity. While performing said motion, it will assist with developing the muscles that help with the full pull up as well as the skills. The use of a resistance band will give great assistance as well, they can help with supporting the bodyweight if it’s your strength that you are lacking in.

Intermediate Level: Banded Pull ups

Quick video to get better at pull-ups using a resistance band, this can be really good for those at the intermediate level.

Banded pull-ups or assisted pull-ups are a little more complicated to do, simply because you will already need to have fairly strong back muscles. Fortunately, the thicker the band you use, the more assistance you will have. Banded pull-ups are one of the best ways to better the form you’ll need for this movement. Both the seated and the banded pull-ups will help you achieve more reps. If you don’t have access to a barbell or a resistance band at your gym facility, find someone you trust and is knowledgeable about fitness that can assist you in the pull-ups.

Free Work: Back Workouts For More Definition!

Some of my go to back exercises, try them out!

References :

  1. Johnson, D., Lynch, J., & Nash, K. (2009). Relationship of lat-pull repetitions and pull up’s to maximal lat-pull down and pull-up streghth. Retrieved June 14th , 2019, from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Doug_Johnson10/publication/24350694_Relationship_of_Lat-Pull_Repetitions_and_Pull-Ups_to_Maximal_Lat-Pull_and_Pull-Up_Strength_in_Men_and_Women/links/5a12f6abaca27217b59e933f/Relationship-of-Lat-Pull-Repetitions-and-Pull-Ups-to-Maximal-Lat-Pull-and-Pull-Up-Strength-in-Men-and-Women.pdf.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s