So you can do your first pull-up in 4 weeks

Can you do a chin-up? Or several? If not, we have the perfect starter program for you. Our colleague Andrea from the brand management department has taken up this challenge in the context of our Women’s Health Challenge.

Andrea is actually more of a runner, fitness exercises are not really her thing. So far. So this month she’s taking on a whole new challenge. The goal: She wants to finally do a pull-up. So, at least. You want to try it too? With her training regimen and our expert advice, I’m sure you can do it.

What’s a pull-up?

The pull-up is one of the most effective exercises for the upper body – but unfortunately also one of the hardest. A “real” chin-up is only said to be a “real” chin-up if you manage to pull yourself up with the force of your upper body on the crossbar so that your chin passes the bar.

What is trained during chin-ups?

The pull-up is an upper body all-rounder. It ensures a strong back, well-trained arms, defined shoulders and an efficient interaction of those very body regions.

The grip width and the type of grip determine which muscles are particularly activated and take over the main part of the work (see next point).

Fit and athletic in 8 weeks Athletik-Trainingsplan

How wide should one reach for the pull-up?

There is no right or wrong for the grip width. How wide you grip the bar during a pull-up only influences which muscle group is especially trained. There are basically 4 different pull-up variations:

  • Shoulderwide underhand grip: To do this, grab the bar from below, i.e. the palms of your hands are pointing towards you. The biceps are activated more strongly when you reach underneath. No wonder, because the arm movement is very similar to a biceps curl. The latissimus (the broad back muscle) is also involved in the movement.
  • Shoulderwide overhand grip: With this variation you grip the bar shoulderwide from above, i.e. the backs of your hands point to you. The broad back muscle does most of the work. The shoulders are also trained, but not quite as much as in the other variations.
  • Wide overhand grip: With the wide overhand grip you grasp the bar further than shoulder width, the backs of your hands point to you. The shoulders are strongly activated, as well as the latissimus.
  • Hammer handle: To make the hammer handle, you need two parallel bars. The palms of your hands are facing each other. If the grip is very tight, especially the biceps is active. The further apart the two bars are, the more your broad back muscle is activated.

The best exercises for a healthy, trained back

The best way to learn which grip size is right for you is to try it out. Usually you will find one variation easier without training. Your goal is to do at least one pull-up from this variation. The other grip widths and types should be regularly included in your training.

Which pull-up variations are suitable for practice?

  1. Oblique pull-ups
    Hang with your hands on a pole that is about waist-high. Feet are on the ground. Pull chest to bar, then down again.
  2. Raised push-ups
    Place your hands on a raised surface (such as a weight bench). The higher, the easier. Lower your chest, then press up.
  3. Climbing slope
    This is about grip strength. Hang from a pull-up bar in the underhand grip. Now hold it! Keep your arms straight.
  4. Pull-ups with support
    Attach a resistance band to the pull-up bar. Climb into the loop with one knee, then pull up.
  5. Negative pull-ups
    Grasp a pull-up bar in your underhand grip and jump up explosively until your chin has passed the bar. Slowly down.

Andrea’s pull-up training

We gave our colleague Andrea 4 weeks time to look over the bar: with the right strength exercises for the upper body and muscle lining, which was tailored to her by our expert Nico Airone.

4 weeks is a pretty tight timeframe to train your strength for a chin-up. Our colleague Nico, men’s health coach and head of the Coaching Zone, has therefore drawn up a crisp plan for Andrea:

Klimmzug-Challenge Coach Nico checks how high Andrea gets after 2 weeks of chin-up training.

“Every weekly plan demands above all the muscles responsible for pulling movements, i.e. the upper back and the biceps. Andrea feels her way from week to week from the oblique to the negative variant to the underhand grip pull (thumbs pointing to the sides)”, explains the expert. “In addition to the practical first exercise, she always expects a further pulling exercise to build up the decisive strength. Even if the pulling movement is the main focus, her workout should never be one-sided”.

Therefore, the plan provides for further exercises for the opponents (chest and triceps). In the first two weeks Andrea should train a total of 6 times, alternating workout 1 and 2, in the last two weeks a total of 8 times alternating the two workouts. Important for imitating: Don’t commute when doing the pull-up, but hang firmly on the bar. Therefore, each workout should end with a fuselage part.

With this training plan you will become fit and athletic within 8 weeks

The pull-up training plan for week 1 and 2

Now we will show you Andreas’ training plan for the first two weeks. But first there will be a warm-up:

The pull-up warm up

Description

Repetitions

Extended arms swing horizontally in front of the body to the sides

10

Circle outstretched arms

10

Swing angled arms up (elbows to ears)

10

The warm-up is important to prepare the muscles and prevent injuries. Then the workouts follow. Wichtig: Bei den 6 Trainingseinheiten pro Woche wechseln sich Workout 1 und 2 immer wieder ab:

Workout 1

Übung

Wiederholungen

Tempo (exz./ konz.)

Sätze

Pause. (in Seconds)

Schräge Klimmzüge

6-12

2/1

3

60

Erhöhte Liegestütze

6-12

2/1

3

60

Langhantel-Rudern

6-12

2/1

3

60

Klimmzug-Hang

Max.

3

60

Unterarmstütz

Max.

3

60

Leg lifting while lying down

8-12

2/1

3

60

Workout 2

exercise

Repetitions

Tempo (exc./conc.)

Sets

Pause (in seconds)

Negative pull-ups

6-12

2/1

3

60

Raised push-ups

6-12

2/1

3

60

Rowing on a sling trainer

6-12

2/1

3

60

Dumbbell covers

6-12

2/1

3

60

Lateral support, left

max.

3

60

Lateral support, right

max.

3

60

Tempo: Specified in seconds, ecc. = eccentric, giving way to resistance, conc. = concentric, overcoming resistance

Klimmzug-Challenge Ouch! Already after the first training sessions Andrea has calluses on her hands.

Field report: “Are those calluses on my hands?”

Okay, my coach Nico has arm muscles that look like they’re chiseled. I better not ask him how many pull-ups he can do, way too depressing. I, on the other hand, have to see how far I can pull myself up on high bar in pull-up position – and I move: Zero. Zero centimeters. Nico tries to encourage me: “We’ll manage it!”

Okay, I think, but before I take a look at the training schedule he’s writing down for me right now. After that, all I can think is: Help! I have never heard of most of the exercises he prescribes for me – no wonder, I am a runner …

Fortunately, a colleague took pity on me to train with me, according to the motto: “Together we are strong!” But that doesn’t help against the pain I feel the day after the first training session when I type an email on the computer. Are those calluses on my hands?

Think about the pull-up already at breakfast

I’m also supposed to follow a dietary plan, by the way. Very important: few carbohydrates, because in the worst case they turn into fat “You have to pull up every gram of your body, so it’s good if no gram of fat is added,” says Nico. I’d rather eat a lot of protein to increase my strength. Also important: I should no longer have a sweet breakfast, but a hearty one – this prepares the body better for the upcoming strain.

In plain language this means: 4 eggs for breakfast or sometimes 180 grams of beef. Did I mention that I usually prefer yoghurt with fruit? This is not good for my mood. And by the way, I don’t like my colleagues smirking: “You look so muscular” whenever I put on my jacket with a painfully distorted face.

Klimmzug-Challenge Strong workout buddy: colleague Susanne supports Andrea in her challenge.

The coach increases the training workload

Nico tells me that we have to tighten up the training schedule a little bit. Because 2 days ago I should try again how far I can pull myself up on the high bar – 2 centimetres after all! But that was probably not enough … Now there are even meaner exercises, longer endurance, more weights and above all more training days!

This is also a time challenge: 4 times a week 1 hour of training – I have to find the time first. Usually my colleague Susanne and I go to the studio during the lunch break. Advantage: It’s not so crowded at this time of day, so you embarrass yourself in front of fewer people when you practice your first real chin-up – and fail …

The best arm training for women

Andrea’s pull-up training plan for week 3 and 4

From now on, 8 training units per week are on the schedule – again, workout 1 and 2 are always alternated. Important: The warm-up remains as usual! First workout:

Workout 1

exercise

Repetitions

Tempo (exc./conc.)

Sets

Pause (in seconds)

Pull-ups with support

1

1/1

5

120

Negative pull-ups

5

3/1

3

90

Push-ups

8

2/1

3

60

Barbell Rowing

8

2/1

3

60

Forearm support

max.

3

60

Leg lifting while lying down

8-12

3/1

3

60

And because it’s so much fun, here comes the second workout:

Workout 2

exercise

Repetitions

Tempo (exc./conc.)

Sets

Pause (in seconds)

Pull-ups with light support

1

1/1

5

120

Negative pull-ups

5

3/1

3

90

Dumbbell covers

8

2/1

3

60

TRX -rowing

8

2/1

3

60

Lateral support, left

max.

3

60

Lateral support, right

max.

3

60

Speed: Specified in seconds, ecc = eccentric, yielding to the resistance, conc = concentric, overcoming the resistance

The pull-up training shows effect

A look in the mirror shows success after a relatively short time: My arms are getting really muscular! I must wear a sleeveless top soon! Unfortunately, there are also disadvantages in terms of clothing: For an appointment I have to take out my blazer – and it doesn’t fit anymore. Much too tight at arms and cross.

Klimmzug-Challenge We did it! After 4 weeks of hard training Andrea masters the pull-up.

How to create your own training plan

Conclusion: From zero to 1 in 4 weeks

4 weeks of hard training and countless lunch breaks, where meals with colleagues had to make way for a workout – now I am here for my final exam. And really: I can do a pull-up! Nice side effect: I never had so few angle arms as today! What do I do with them now? Off to the surf holiday in the Canarian Islands – I can use strong arms there.

Pull-ups are possible! If you want to do what Andrea did, stick to her plans. If you would like closer supervision, you can contact the trainers in our Coaching Zone. Good luck!

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