When you see people knock out 10-20 pull-ups in the gym, it looks like a fairly easy exercise. However if you have never done this exercise before and try doing it for the first time, you will find that it is a lot harder than it looks.
That’s because it requires a huge amount of upper body strength to lift yourself right up to the bar, and many people who are new to the gym will often find that they cannot even do one single rep.
So in this article I want to discuss how you can successfully do your first pull-up if you yourself are having difficulty with this particular exercise.
There are essentially four things that will help you do your first rep, which are as follows:
The pull-up exercise requires you to lift your entire bodyweight, so it will obviously be a lot harder to do many reps if you are heavily overweight. Therefore the first thing to do is to try to shift some of this excess weight if you are serious about being able to do your first pull-up, and ultimately want to do multiple reps to really develop your upper body.
This is best achieved by reducing your calorie intake and doing lots of cardio exercises every week in order to burn more calories, and you may well find that this alone is enough to help you complete your first rep.
Increase Your Back Strength
If your weight is not necessarily an issue, then it is a good idea to strengthen your back muscles because a strong back will definitely help you to do multiple pull-ups in the future.
Bent over rows with a heavy set of dumbbells (training one arm at a time) is one of the most effective exercises you can do if you want to be able to do your first pull-up, but you can also use both arms to do bent over barbell rows with heavier weights if you find dumbbell rows to be too easy.
You should also try doing ring rows (from a leaning position) and inverted rows (an easier variant of the pull-up) because these two exercises will really strengthen your back as well.
Practice Hanging From The Bar
If you are still struggling to complete one rep, it may be because your technique is wrong, or you just do not feel comfortable doing this exercise for whatever reason.
The best way to remedy this is to simply practice hanging from the bar as much as possible, and ideally for at least 5-10 seconds. The key here is to learn how to grip the bar and to learn how to maintain a good position with your chest up and your back straight because this will help make it a little easier to do pull-ups in the future.
Use An Assisted Pull-Up Machine
If you do all of these things and still cannot do a single rep on a standard pull-up bar, then you should switch to the assisted pull-up machine instead.
This machine is ideal for beginners because it will support your knees (or your feet in some cases) and push you upwards so that you can easily do multiple pull-ups with a little bit of assistance.
Subsequently you can perfect your technique and build up your upper body strength until you are ready to go back to the pull-up bar and do complete reps without any help.
(If your gym doesn’t have one of these machines, you can use a normal pull-up bar and get a spotter to help push you up instead).
The Next Step
Once you are able to do your first full pull-up, you should find that it becomes easier to do multiple reps, but you do need to keep on working on your upper body strength in order to keep progressing.
By doing lots of back, arm and shoulder exercises, you should hopefully reach a point where you are able to do at least 10 pull-ups without any problems, and can easily do multiple sets at a time.
As a result of this, you will not only have a lot more upper body strength, but you will have a much more muscular physique, which is what most of us are primarily interested in.