Pull Ups for Beginners: 4-Week Pull Up Program

pull ups for beginners

The exercise that should be on every gym-goer’s to-do list: the pull up.

Pull-ups are the ultimate test of upper body functional strength. Whether you’re on day one or 100 in the gym, pull ups are a challenging exercise but, the benefits are unmatched. Pull ups help you build back, shoulder, arm strength and endurance, grip strength, and improves body composition and your overall fitness level. Plus, the strength and movement pattern you develop translates over to other exercises.

If you have yet to master pulling your entire self up to the bar, fear not! Simply follow this 4-Week Pull Ups for Beginners program by YouFit Gyms Personal Trainer Marissa Earley to achieve your first pull up and be on your way to feeling more accomplished in the gym than ever before. 

4-Week Pull Up Program for Beginners

Even if you can’t do a single pull up now, this 4-Week Pull Up Program for Beginners will get you there. Gym-goers can add these exercises to their workouts. Not exercising regularly right now? Create  your own regimen using the movements below, and add  20 minutes of cardio and at least one core strengthening exercise to round out your workout. 

Your beginner pull up program should include 1 workout day followed by a rest day (2 rest days if your upper body is sore), and repeat. Challenge yourself by adding an additional 2-3 reps as the weeks progress. 

Let’s get started!

Warm-up

Get your blood pumping with 2 sets of shoulder cars and 2 dynamic lat stretches. 

Weeks 1 & 2

Follow this part of the program for 2 weeks. Be sure to alternate with a rest day in between workout days, make it 2 rest days if you’re sore.

Day 1 

  • Smith Machine Bent Knee Pull Ups – 3 sets x 5–8 reps 
pull ups for beginners
  • Lat Pulldowns – 3 sets x 8-10 reps
pull ups for beginners
  • Chest Supported Row – 3 sets x 8 reps
pull ups for beginners

REST DAY

Day 2

  • Inverted Row on the Smith Machine 3 sets x 5-8 reps
pull ups for beginners
  • Single Arm Bent Over Row 3 sets x 8-10 reps (each arm)
pull ups for beginners

REST DAY

Day 3

  • Isometric Hold on the Smith Machine – 3 sets x 10 sec
pull ups for beginners
  • Neutral Grip Chin-Ups on Assisted Pull Up Machine – 3 sets x 8 reps (each week decrease the supported weight if you can)
pull ups for beginners
  • Bicep Curls – 2 sets x 10-12 reps
pull ups for beginners

Weeks 3 & 4

Now that you’ve started developing your upper body strength, move on to this 3-day routine with rest days in between each workout day. 

Day 1

  • Dead Hang from the Bar – 4 sets x 20 – 30 sec Keep core tight and focus on squeezing pinkies to help contract the lats.
pull ups for beginners
  • Eccentric Lat Pull Downs – 4 sets x 8-10 reps
pull ups for beginners

REST DAY

Day 2 

  • Inverted TRX Band Row – 4 sets x 8 reps
pull ups for beginners
  • Chest Supported Row – 4 sets x 8-10 reps
pull ups for beginners

REST DAY

Day 3

  • Banded-Assisted Pull-ups – 4 sets x 5 reps
pull ups for beginners
  • Supinated Wide-Grip Row – 4 sets x 8-10 reps
pull ups for beginners
  • Cross-body Hammer Curls – 4 sets x 12-15 reps

On week 4, attempt your first full pull up before you get started. You might surprise yourself. Don’t get your first pull-up? That’s ok. Finish up the program, then start over at Week 1, Day increasing reps and load where possible. Challenge yourself. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. 

BONUS: 3 Tips for Better Pull Ups for Beginners

Keep your core engaged. Pull your belly button to your spine. Keeping your core engaged will not only help to prevent you from swinging, but also aid in the strength and stability of the exercise. If you want or need more core strength, consider adding ab exercises into the 3-day routines above. 

Build stronger shoulder blades. Practice scapular retractions with the dead-hang. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet hanging, then retract your shoulder blades by squeezing them together, then return to neutral. Perform 10 times, repeating for 3 sets.

Boost your grip strength. Using spring clips, train your grip strength by squeezing the clip grips together. Perform 15 times, repeating for 2 sets. Our grip often gives out before our lats (the  largest back muscle used for the pull-up), so by increasing grip strength and stamina, you’ll be able to hold onto the bar longer to perform additional pull-ups.

Challenge ourself with our 4 Week Pull ups for Beginners program or team up with a YouFit Gyms Personal Trainer with one-on-one affordable personal training sessions starting at $35.

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pull ups for beginners

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