Going From Zero to One Pull Up in One Month

man doing pull up

I spent the majority of my adult life not being able to do a pull up. In fact, not until September 26 of 2018 was I able to do a pull up.

I was able to do a few pull ups before I left elementary school because, you know, elementary schoolers don’t have much to pull up.

I did a Rugged Maniac race with my husband and a family from our church.

Leading up to it, I decided it would be great if I could do a pull up or two to help get myself over some obstacles. 

Also, I often said that if I was ever dangling off of a cliff and nobody was around, I had no doubt that I would die. Do I ever see this happening? No, I avoid cliffs. But that’s still a good reason, in my opinion, to work on doing a pull up. 

There are two things I did to help me do a pull up.

  1. Exercise.
  2. I lost a few pounds to make me lighter. About 12. 

But today I’m going to focus on the exercise part. 

A few things that are relevant. 

  1. I did not have a gym, but I do have a pull up bar that hangs from my door.
  2. I was both very committed to this plan and also forgot to follow through every once in a while. So don’t get down on yourself if you make any mistakes. 
  3. If you are starting with very little arm muscle and a lot of weight holding you down, this might take a little bit longer for you. And that’s okay! Just switch things up a little bit based on your needs and give yourself plenty of grace. 

Here’s the plan that worked for me:

In case you find yourself saying “no, there’s no way this girl can do a pull up after this!” here’s the video that I sent my family after I did my very first pull up!

It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t graceful, but it will get me off of a cliff if I’m going to die…which was the whole point and is the most useful time to use a pull up.

Girl doing one pull up

The “Why”

If you want a few details about why I tried doing each thing, hopefully this helps. If not, leave a comment with a question and I’ll answer it the best I can!

Bar Hangs

Yep, I started out just hanging from a bar. As you can tell, my bar isn’t very high so I had to keep my legs tucked under me too. 

This helped a lot with giving me grip strength in my hands and also gave my muscles a little bit of work in this position without burning myself out too quickly.

Shrugs

While hanging I would shrug my shoulders a couple of times. This was just a slightly different set of muscles that was getting worked and was getting a little more flexible too. The shrugs also work your core which is a little bonus.

Assisted Pull Ups

There are machines and bands that help you do a pull up. I had access to neither, and my bar was so low that bands wouldn’t have worked anyway because I wouldn’t be able to straighten my legs enough to use them.

I set a chair about a foot front of me, grasped the bar, set both feet on the seat, and gave myself just enough of a push to get me up to the bar. At first this was A LOT of a push. Towards the end I was only using one foot. 

I hope this help you if you’ve ever wanted to do a pull up, but didn’t know how!

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