How To: Your First Strict Pull-Up

Ah, the strict pull up. A distinctive display of upper body strength, control, and a great party trick to boot. And despite what the Marine Corps or your Uncle Joe might think, women CAN do them! 

If you're on the hunt to get your first stricty, or have one but want to be able to bang out a few at a time, we've got some moves here to add to your rotation that will have you repping these out in no time! Head into your gym 15 minutes early and spend some quality time at the bar. Practice, practice, practice!

For beginners, we recommend you start here. If you can hold your chin above the bar for 15 seconds, feel free to jump to the next segment.

Note: Be sure to warm up properly before these movements, and have a coach nearby to help if need be!


Things to note:

  • Start with your feet under the rings.
  • Keep your body in a tight position. Avoid letting your butt drop or arching your back, or "kipping" the pull by throwing your hips forward to initiate the pull.
  • Pull all the way into your armpits, and extend your arms all the way out in the beginning of each rep.


  • Shoot for 3 sets of 10. When this gets easy, take these up a notch by changing your foot placement. (See Part II)


Things to note:

  • Follow all the same cues as Part I.
  • By moving your shoulders under the rings instead of your feet, you are pulling much more of your body weight.


  • Shoot for 3 sets of 10. When you can do that comfortably, move on to the next move.



Things to note:

  • Stack some plates or grab a box and set up so you can maintain a grip on the bar at full extension
  • Jump to begin the pull. Get your chin over the bar!
  • Try to maintain control as your return to start.


  • Aim for 4 sets of 6-8. You can also alternate between this Part I and Part II for this.


Things to note:

  • Remove or adjust the plates so that the bar is no more than 4 inches away from your finger tips at full extension
  • Follow cues for Part I.





This is our favorite tool for gaining pulling strength! Nothing builds muscle like eccentric movement. Once you can hold yourself above the bar for a few seconds and have the ability to lower yourself with control, this should be your go-to move. 

Things to note:

  • Get yourself over the bar by way of a kip, a step or a jump.
  • Hold at the top for a moment, and then begin to lower.
  • The key to this move is going as slowly as you possibly can
  • You'll most likely hit a point where you lose a little control: This is your sticky point or the weakest part of your pull, so fight like crazy to maintain control through this point.


  • Aim for 7-10 negatives, as slowly as possible. When you can lower yourself with complete control through the entire movement, you are ready to start your pull-ups!


Things to note:

  • Try to keep your body in the "hollow" position, with a tight core.
  • Initiate the pull in your scapulas, and be sure to get that chin over the bar!


  • For both of these variations, strive for 5 sets of max effort, meaning go until you fail. 
  • If your sets are between 1 -3 reps, we suggest alternating between ME sets and negatives.


If you can bang out a few stricts, try to make contact with the bar with your chest for added difficulty.

Adding weight is another great way to improve your pulling power. Hook a kettle bell on your toes, hold a dumbbell or medicine ball between you knees, or wear a weight vest!



Some of you might be thinking, "Where are the bands?" While using an assistance band for pull ups might be well suited to some workouts and other circumstances, we don't believe them to be a big help in gaining pulling strength. This article from Breaking Muscle breaks it down!

The only way to get better at these is with practice, so be sure to spend some time on them whenever you can! We hope this helps you and be sure to tag us if you get your first one, we always want to see your hard work paying off!

If you're looking for an AMAZING structured pull-up program, look no further than Pull Up Queen, created by Neghar Fonooni.

This 12 week program has 3 different levels of badassery and comes with videos, movement libraries and tons of other goodies to help you become  a hero on the pull up bar. I stand behind this program and highly recommend it!