Tips For Your First Strict Pull-Up

Tips for Getting Your First Strict Pull-Up

In the fitness world, there are varying milestones for every athlete. One popular milestone is being able to perform a strict bodyweight pull-up. As much as we love hitting barbell PRs, we know the importance of bodyweight movements and strength.

It is also important to know that if you plan to progress to kipping or butterfly pull-ups you should first build the foundation and strength of your strict pull-up first!

Achieving the strict pull-up can be a challenge for many athletes so we are going to break down some tips for building the strength in your upper body and back to help you achieve the strict pull-up goal.

Strict pull-ups involve using many of your upper body muscles. Your lats,biceps, serratus anterior, rhomboids, infraspinatus, erector spinae, and obliques are all engaged when performing a strict pull-up.

Here are some great supplemental exercises to assist you in getting your first strict, body weight, pull-up.

The following movements strengthen your back, core, and arms to increase your strength and better prepare you for getting a strict pull-up.

Lat pull-downs

Ring rows

Bent over rows

Banded face pulls

Hollow holds

Rope climbs

All these exercises can be added to your workout routine and are great added strength work.

Technique: Segmenting the Movement

Once you’ve built the strength to pull your weight off the ground you’ll need to work on performing the pull-up movement. To get more comfortable with the strict pull-up you can segment out certain parts of the movement and build from there.

Dead Hangs

Hanging from the pull-up bar is a great way to build grip strength and engage the first motion of the strict pull-up. A good goal is to build strength to do 0:30-0:40 holds in the dead hang position.

Scap Pull-ups

Once you’ve done your dead hang practice you can begin to engage scap, or scapular pull-ups. This is done in the dead hang position while just engaging the upper parts of your back or your scapulas. Start relaxed and hanging then squeeze your shoulders and scaps together, hold for a count and relax again. Repeat this movement for reps to warm up and strengthen the beginning motion of your pull-up.

Holds and Negatives.

Great for building upper back strength. You can take a box or stool to help you jump up to get into a chin over the bar, or the final position of the pull-up, and hold yourself in place squeezing. This movement is harder than you think and will challenge your upper body strength.

Progressing from holding yourself in the chin over the bar position, you can begin to SLOWLY lower yourself down to a full hanging position. If this is too easy, try to move as slowly as possible until you have reached a full locked-out dead hang.

Banded Pull-Ups

Banded pull-ups are another great progression to help lighten your bodyweight and progress your pull-up. You can begin by using a band with more resistance to help you. If you can do more than 10 good strict reps with the band in a row move to a lighter, less resistant band.


Get your reps in and practice, practice, practice.

You did not hop into the gym and just PR your squat. You probably learned how to squat, did lots of reps, and went on a strength cycle. Keep that in mind while practicing for strict pull-up strength. It takes time. You will need to dedicate part of your training time to this movement to progress and get better.

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