My First Pull-Up

It’s official! At approximately 6:00 pm yesterday evening, I did my first pull-up.

To some, this might not seem like a big deal, but to me it’s quite the accomplishment. When I first started climbing, I could barely even lift myself an inch up on the bar, much less get anything up and over. But now, after about eight weeks of training, I’m finally able to do a single pull-up.

This came at a great time, too, because in my previous post I mentioned how I was starting to get frustrated and burnt out with climbing. Having goals like these – not about climbing, but just about training my body to do things I want it to do – and working towards them gives me something else to look forward too at the gym, even if I’m managing to send any problems.

When I started my training a few weeks ago, even though I’ve been climbing for nine months, I still was nowhere near doing a pull-up (or chin-up, for that matter). Here’s what I did to get started:

Reverse pull-ups. Instead of pulling myself up, with this exercise I let myself down (only physically, not emotionally). I put my hands on the bar and jumped up so I was holding myself/my chin above the bar. Then, I slowly lowered myself with control, counting to ten before I was at the lowest point. After getting to the lowest point, I jumped back up on the bar, and repeated twice. I did three sets of three lowers with a three minute break between each.

Assisted campus reaches. Excuse that title – I have no idea what the actual name of this exercise would be. I matched hands on the wide sloping campus rungs, and with my feet on the skinny rail underneath, I went plus two with one hand, then down to minus one with the same hand, then back to matching. I repeated with the other hand. I tried to do this four times on each side. After each set, I rested two minutes, and repeated three times, for a total of four sets.


(No idea what these are actually called.  Original photo from BKB.)

One might not seem like a lot, but from what I’ve heard, it’s really the hill that you have to get over before you’re on your way to being able to do many. I’m modifying my training to include the following things:

More assisted pull-ups. Using the smallest band that my gym has, I do four sets of five assisted pull-ups. I switch feet after each set so I’m not favoring one side over another, and I rest for three full minutes between each set.

Aussie pull-ups. I never tried these until I read about them the other day. I don’t have a set routine for these yet, but it’ll probably be similar to my sets with my assisted pull-ups – five or more, three minutes rest, repeat three to four times.

And, of course, trying to do as many full pull-ups as I can.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, trainer, dietician, exercise guru, or anyone who should be giving anyone any exercise/training advice whatsoever. This is just a description of my training routine; you should probably consult someone who knows what they’re talking about if you want to do your own training.


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