Coach Mario C

Pull Yourself UP!

by Mario Castrejon on September 24, 2013

The pull-up is one of the most iconic and more difficult exercises you can do. Most sports related movies have some actor doing pullups. Every time I watch the Rocky movies it makes me want to go to my pull-up bar and do a set.

I really like pull-ups because they are fun for me to do. They have so many great benefits, and they work so many muscles at the same time.

There are a ton of different variations of the pull-up you can do. You will never get bored with this exercise and you can always keep progressing to become better. You can also add a weighted vest to make them harder.

Some people get the pull-ups and chin-ups confused.

Pull-ups are done with palms facing away from you. They mainly work the lats, but also the middle back and biceps.

Chin-ups are done with the palms facing towards you. They also mainly work the lats but work the forearms, biceps, and middle back.

Muscles worked while doing pull-ups:

Primary muscle: Lats

Secondary muscles: Lower Biceps, Forearm, Biceps, Outer Back, Rear Delts, Rotary Cuff, Rotary Cuff, Middle Back, Rear Neck, Upper Traps, Lower Traps, and Chest

Stabilizer Muscles: Triceps

What if I can’t do pull-ups?

Pull-ups take a lot of hard to be able to do them, but they are totally worth it. Keep working hard and with time you will be able to do them.

Follow these steps:

  1. Dead hang – hang from the pull-up bar and work yourself up to 60 seconds dead hang. Once you can do this, then move on to the next step.
  2. Flex hang – use a chair to get into the top position of the pull-up and work yourself towards holding that position for 30 seconds.
  3. Negatives – use the chair to get on the top position of the pull-up and lower yourself slowly. It should take you from 5-10 seconds to lower yourself down.
  4. Assisted pull-ups – you can the pull-up assistance machine at the gym, a resistance band, or someone can help you get over the bar.
  5. Australian pull-ups – these are also called inverted rows. They are a great exercise to help you get stronger.

If you follow these 5 steps, with time, hard work, and consistency you will be able to perform your first pull-up.

6 Week pull-ups program

This program is designed to help you do 20 pull-ups in a row. I followed this program in the past and I was able to do 24 pull-ups in a row.


  1. Test yourself to find out what is your starting point
  2. Perform the described reps in a straight set. If you are struggling with the reps, then choose a lower level or do the week again
  3. Take 60-120 seconds in between sets
  4. Test yourself at the end of week 3 to find out what will be your starting point on week 4

Note: If you can’t do pull-ups yet, then follow this program by doing Australian pull-ups instead. Also add the other recommended steps above and at the end of the program you should be able to perform your first pull-up

Follow the program and good luck!

Make sure to contact me if you have any questions and keep me posted on your progress.

Your Friend & Coach
Mario Castrejon


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