Pull Ups 101

Dustin Myers


Most people would agree that the pull up is a cornerstone of any upper body training program but everyone seems to have a different opinion about technique.  Here are my three golden rules of the pull up game:

-Do Not Swing:  kipping is fine if you are doing a muscle up (and maybe even on a plyo based pull up like flying pull ups or the Clap pull ups described in number 8 above),  but if you are trying to build strong lats you should not be swinging what so ever.  What is the best way to prevent this?  Keep your legs perfectly straight, keeping your glutes flexed and your toes pointed towards the floor.  It’s common default position for people to bend their feet up behind them during a set of pull ups but that will make it easier to start kipping as the reps get tough.  Keep your legs locked in place and you will have to rely on strength, not momentum, to finish your set.

-Go LOW, but not quite all the way down - the other most common mistake besides kipping is not going low enough.  With that being said, you want to go low but not completely to what is called an “un-packed” position.  If you go all the way down to a dead hang your entire body weight is now being supported by the tiny muscles of the rotator cuff - not a good situation for anyone. Keep your lats tight at the bottom, literally an inch or so from a dead hang, and never fully relax.  Your shoulders will thank you.

-Pull at the proper angle - on overhand variations, concentrate on engaging your lats and pulling your elbows back as your collar bone cruises towards the bar.  The further your elbows are in front of you, the more you are relying on your biceps rather than your lats.  A wide grip pull up should have the same mechanics as a wide grip pull down.

-Get your chin above the bar, but not by throwing your head back at the top - can we all just agree to stop with the “head nod” thing at the top of our pull ups.  By throwing your head back at the top, you are not getting any higher and are simply tricking yourself into thinking you went all the way up.  Just stop.  Please.  Keep your eyes focused on something straight ahead and get your chin above the bar the old fashioned way - by doing a full rep

Dustin Fuels This Workout With the Max Effort Energy