How to Master the Pull Up

Pull-ups are an incredible exercise to train your upper body, develop great looking lean muscle and get a nice tapered look through your upper back. A lot of women struggle with pull-ups, and as a result, they tend to stick to rows, lat pull downs and other upper back work. While these exercises are good, they won’t give you the incredible strength and muscle shaping results that the pull-up does.


So, how do you master the pull-up? The best way to develop the strength needed in your lats, rhomboids and grip is to do negative pull-ups:

Stand on a bench or a box, grab the bar and jump up to where you would be in the top position of a pull-up. Then, slowly (4-5 seconds) lower yourself down to the starting point. Repeat this for 4-5 repetitions. Perform 3-5 sets, depending on what other exercises you have planned for the day.

Work on the negatives twice a week for at least three weeks and assess your progress. Some women will be ready to attempt a pull-up, some will need a few more weeks. Once you feel strong and ready, here is the set up:

Grab the bar, and let your body hang with your toes slightly touching the floor or a box. Engage your lats by squeezing your shoulder blades down and back. Drive your elbows down toward your ribcage, and squeeze your lats as you pull up. When you get to the top, touch your chest to the bar and slowly lower down. Repeat, if possible. If you can only get one, rest 30 seconds and try for another.

Continue to build up your strength by doing one day of negatives and one day of split repetitions (1-2 at a time until you get 5-8 repetitions).


Once your pull-ups are a constant in your training routine, it’s time to spice it up. Below are four unconventional pull-up styles that you can mix into your training. You can use a different grip each time you train, or complete one set of each style during a training session.

I made a video about this over at, check it out to see exactly how to get stronger on your pull ups. 

Make sure you are supplementing your movements. If you’re getting strong with pulling you want to get strong with pushing too. Read how to rock at push ups right here.