Still can't get a pull-up?

Still can't get a pull-up?

Pull-ups are hard!

Have no fear, you are not alone. You have done banded pull-ups, ring rows, more banded pull-ups, and still nothing!

I'm going to make a simple, short, post on what you need to do to get better at pull-ups.

As simply put as possible, you NEED to get stronger. Also, if you are carrying any extra weight, dropping healthy weight would also make this easier but is not 100% necessary. (Again, it'll just make it easier.)

Now getting stronger is our main goal and to do that you need to be consistent. That means performing upper body exercises EVERY week. Not just when you feel like it, or if it is in the workout.

Now ego aside, let's put pull-ups on the back burner for awhile. If you see them in a workout, rather than doing banded pull-ups or 1000 more ring rows, let's pick a movement you can perform strict. (Maybe a supine barbell row, or a pull-up on low rings with your feet on the ground.)

What is important is that you do not "cheat", we are no longer trying to kip or make the movement easier. We want strict range of motion. If that means getting 5 min slower on a workout, so be it.

Now let's say you want a designated pull-up program. Let's go over how I would approach this for an athlete of mine -

What is most important to me:

  • It is easy to follow (No crazy movements necessary.)
  • It's fun (that means they will want to do it and easy to stay consistent.)
  • It's simple (Simple progressive overload is fine.)

I find when it's complicated, has movements the athlete has to google or watch videos to perform, and is all over the place with reps and sets, they tend to follow it once and never look at it again.

If you're thinking, "Rodrick, it's not your responsibility to make sure someone stays consistent."

Well actually yes it is, if someone comes to me to get better and they have a hard time staying consistent, or whatever it may be, I need to look at what I'm doing that makes them feel that way.

If I can make them have fun, and stay consistent, they get better faster. A coach is not just programming workouts.

How to put your program together:

Choose your absolute favorite pulling exercises and 1 to 2 pec and tricep exercises.

Here are my favorites: (Pulling)

  • DB rows
  • Single arm lat pull downs
  • Hand over hand sled pulls
  • Landmine row
  • DB hammer curls


  • DB decline bench
  • Push-ups
  • Tricep rollbacks

*This program has not been tested and has been made as an example for this post. Feel free to try this program at your own risk.

Now that you have your movements let's just plug and play. We will say this program would be performed with 2 days of rest between.

(Monday - Thursday - Sunday - Wednesday...etc...)

Personally I would start with high reps and low sets and slowly transition to the opposite:


Week 1: 3 sets x 12-15 reps

Week 2: 4 sets: 8-12 reps

Week 3: 5 sets: 6-8 reps

Week 4: 6 sets: 4-6 reps

Week 5: Retest

*As reps decrease your goal would be to go heavier.

Workout 1:

  • DB rows
  • Push ups

Workout 2:

  • Hand over hand sled pulls
  • Decline DB bench

Workout 3:

  • Landmine row
  • Tricep rolls back

*Again, this a rough idea and you probably noticed that I did not use every movement. I did that so you can add it in or switch it up when need be. 

I hope you enjoyed this post. Remember that everyone is different and when coaching an athlete I would be able to assess what they need most and the program would be more personalized. However, a general program like this can be effective because it will make you stronger!

If you have any questions please post them in the comments below. Interested in getting a personalized program? Email for more info.

Leave a comment