Mastering the pull up is still something I am doing even after 3 years of CrossFit. There are so many variations, such as, strict, kipping, butterfly, supinated, pronated, etc. This week in my BodyFit class we are going over the Pull Up and all the different variations, plus what to work on if you don’t have your first pull up quiet yet.
I have explained to the people who have came to my mini-clinic that these variations aren’t necessarily easier or harder, they are just different things to practice to build up their strength or if a workout calls for pull ups, these are alternates that you can use during.
These variations are not the only things out there I would try, but this is what I recommend in order to get your first pull up:
- Jumping Pull ups: Get a box so that your arms are bent at about a 90 degree angle while holding on to the pull up bar. Jump to get your chin above the bar a few times, rest and repeat.
- Jump & Hold: When you feel comfortable enough getting your chin above the bar, grab the pull up bar, jump up and hold yourself as long as possible with your chin above the bar. You will start to shake and this is okay. Then slowly decent and repeat.
- Bands: I would recommend using 1-2 bands, but never more. Most coaches would prefer that if you are using a band to have them be strict pull ups. I think this will obviously build the strength you need to get a pull up, but if kipping is something you also want to practice, I would not discourage you from using a band. Just don’t let the band whip you in the face. I personally have been using a band to help me with my kipping bar muscle up, and in my mind- if this is helping, a band to help you with a kipping pull up is fine by me. If you have to use three bands, I would recommend building your strength up first so that you only need <2 bands.
- Pronated: This is simply when your hands are wrapped around the bar, palms facing out, away from your body. This is the most popular type of pull up. While on this subject, I would recommend wrapping your thumb around the bar during your pull ups to prevent slipping off the bar. Just think about hook grip in a snatch or clean, if it gets heavy, you should hook grip. With a pull up, you’re lifting 100+ lbs of body weight into the air… wrap your thumbs.
- Supinated: Or as some people call it, a chin-up. This is the opposite of pronated, when your hands are facing in, towards your body. This is more bicep intensive.
- Kipping: If you have been doing CrossFit for awhile, you have seen what a kipping pull up looks like and it seems easy and fast… right? Well- yes and no. Hands down it is faster, but a kipping pull up is complex and unless you get the movement down of what your legs need to do I would recommend building your strength working on strict pull ups before attempting a kipping pull up. To break down the kipping pull up, watch this video: Gymnastics WOD (I love Carl Paoli who is the face of Gymnastics WOD and his instructional videos are awesome, so check him out to get more in-depth info about all sorts of things).
- Strict: This is when you pull your body weight up, get the chin above the bar and then lower down using all upper-body strength with no kipping (or pumping) of the legs.
- Butterfly: This is what games athletes are doing. Very fast, very efficient, very complex. There are two videos I want you to check out for more info:
Are you lost yet. Do you feel discouraged? Don’t be. Practice, practice, practice. You’ve got this and to help you practice here is a small warm up and workout for you to try on your own:
10 PVC pass through
10 ab-mat sit ups
5 jumping pull ups
12 minute AMRAP
5 Jumping Pull Ups
4 Iron Mikes
3 Push Ups
2 SlamBalls (20lb)
1 Pull Up*
*choose any variation of a pull up you want and it is good to switch it up every round