How To Perfect The Pull-Up

Arrrg, the dreaded pull-up! Admittedly not our favourite exercise in the world and that’s purely because we can’t actually even do one properly! We’ve played the ‘but I’m a girl” card for far too long, blaming it on our poor upper body strength for years, but this time we’re making it our mission to perfect the pull-up.

Nicole & Marisa wearing: Hint o’Pink gloves and adidas  activewear

First things first, you need some good hand support. Fortunately for us, G-Loves has us covered with their range of workout training gloves, designed to improve grip, prevent injuries and provide you with enhanced wrist support, allowing you to increase the time of your lifting sessions while helping you maintain proper form.

Marisa wearing: G-Loves – Pretty in Pink

“Pull-ups are one of the most versatile exercises out there; you can do them with your body weight, use wide and narrow grips, even turn your palms over and do a chin-up. This staple movement not only develops strength and muscularity, but it carries over to any real-world scenario where you might need to… pull yourself up and over something ” says James Barnum, journalist for

If you’re like us and struggle to do just one pull-up, try these exercises for 3 sets of 10 repetitions each to build up some strength:

Pull-up negatives have tremendous carryover to the pull-up. Stand on something or jump up to the bar and get yourself in the top position of a pull-up. Lower yourself in a controlled fashion until your arms are fully extended, then get right back up there and keep going until you’re done with your set! Or just get a beefcake to lift your legs and ease the weight.

Ring rows are a go-to pull for building strength in your entire back and core – they get you working with your body weight and can be easily modified as you progress. Start with your feet on the floor, then elevate your feet with a box as you get stronger.

Single-arm dumbbell rows are great because they offer freedom of movement and an increased range of motion. Support your body with one arm by leaning on a bench and explosively pull the dumbbell back like you’re trying to elbow someone in the gut.

Lat Pulldowns or any vertical pull done with a cable machine can help you develop pulling strength along the same plane as a pull-up and they offer the same freedom of movement as a dumbbell.

Now that you’ve worked on your strength and you can finally do a few pull-ups, check out some of these techniques to really perfect your form:

A pull-up is completed with palms gripping the bar away from you and focuses more on the lats, a chin up utilises the opposite grip, with palms facing towards you and brings the biceps more into play as well as the lats.

A full range rep should start from a dead hang (arms straight) and finish with your chin clearing the bar.

When pulling up, lead with your chest and keep your shoulders pulled back to keep your shoulder joints healthy. Try not to concentrate on pulling with your arms, instead focus on pulling from your lats (upper back) as these are much stronger. Look up at the bar, not down at the floor.

Don’t swing your legs and hips – they say this is cheating (also known as crossfit pull ups). Instead brace up your abs and squeeze your glutes to stop yourself swinging around and keeping the emphasis on the correct muscles.

Pull yourself up explosively and control your drop back down to the floor. Repeat.


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Photo credit: Paul Cocks
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