Introduction to Pull up Routine

Pull-ups are an efficient full-body exercise that can be done anywhere with just a bar. This exercise is not only effective for strengthening the muscles in your arms, back, and shoulders, but also develops core muscles like the abdominals. However, since it involves lifting one’s own body weight using upper body strength alone, it can be a challenging exercise for beginners or those who are heavier.

In collaboration with CHATGPT, a leading AI of the current era, we have gathered information and specially prepared a pull-up routine that includes the well-known U.S. Marine Corps routine. While the Marine Corps routine is in itself an excellent pull-up routine, a basic level of strength is necessary as a minimum of six pull-ups is required to pass. Additionally, as I reached 16 to 17 pull-ups, I needed a routine that could help overcome the workout plateau, which simply means a stagnation period. Although there might be better-structured routines out there, after nearly a year of following this routine, I can confidently say that it has progressively improved my pull-up skills and solidified my motivation and sustainable exercise habits. And remember, above all, exercise is for yourself.

A healthy mind in a healthy body

 


Before starting the routine…

 

Set goals
  • Set achievable yet challenging goals to motivate yourself.
  • If you can’t do even one pull-up, set an initial goal to do just that.
  • If setting a pull-up goal is hard, aim for 14 pull-ups, which is the perfect score for the pull-up section of the Republic of Korea Navy UDT/SEAL non-commissioned officer physical fitness test.
  • After achieving your goal, set a higher goal and challenge yourself further.

 

Record Keeping
  • Consistent recording is essential for accurately tracking progress in your workouts. Record the number of pull-ups planned and actually performed daily, for each set.
  • (Optional) Record videos of your workout sessions to check your form and observe changes over time.
  • (Optional) Take daily or periodic photos of your body (front, back, and side) to monitor changes.
  • (Optional) Record not just the numbers but also your feelings and physical condition during workouts. This can provide insights into your overall health and well-being.

 

Always stretch before exercise
  • Stretch the major muscle groups before exercising to increase flexibility and prevent injuries.
  • If you feel pain, stop exercising immediately and consult a professional.

 

Master the basic pull-up technique ★

Grip (Handle) Settings:

  • There are two types of grips: ‘thumbless grip’ and ‘over grip’. The positioning of the thumb differs in each. In an over grip, the thumb wraps around the bar from below and to the back, while in a thumbless grip, the thumb does not wrap around the bar. The rest of the fingers are aligned in the same direction. This difference affects the stability of the grip and muscle engagement.
  • Using a thumbless grip in pull-ups reduces the involvement of the forearm and bicep muscles, allowing for greater focus on the latissimus dorsi (large back muscles). This enhances the ‘mind-muscle connection’, maximizing the effectiveness of the exercise. Mind-muscle connection refers to the technique of focusing on a specific muscle during exercise to increase its activation. Theoretically, the more attention paid to a muscle during exercise, the stronger the muscle contraction, leading to greater muscle growth. Some studies have reported that enhancing the mind-muscle connection can positively affect muscle growth.
  • However, this method may not apply equally to everyone or guarantee optimal results in all situations. The choice of grip should be based on what best suits your body. You might try both grips to see which you prefer. I tend to use the thumbless grip more often, but I also use the over grip occasionally.

Start Position and Movement:

  • It’s likely that beginners will struggle to perform any pull-up with the correct posture initially. It’s natural, so don’t get discouraged.
  • The reason for emphasizing correct posture is that exercising with the right form is essential to prevent injuries and maintain a long-term sustainable workout routine.
  • Set the width of the pull-up bar to a comfortable width, not too wide or too narrow.
  • The starting position is the ‘dead hang’, where you hang from the bar with your body fully extended.
  • Keep your body in a straight line, an arch, or something in between (whatever feels comfortable for you) and control any swinging motion.
  • For eye direction, it’s simplest to look at the bar rather than at an attractive person nearby. There aren’t many options for where to look, so just choose whatever feels comfortable.
  • As you pull yourself up, aim to touch your chest to the bar (it’s just a feeling; it doesn’t actually have to touch).
  • When descending, return to the ‘dead hang’ position slowly to provide maximum stimulation to the muscles.
  • While proper form is important, it’s inevitable that your form will suffer towards the end of a set when you are fatigued. I start with correct form, but by the end of the set, as my forearm strength wanes, I rely on sheer will to pull myself up, which may cause my back to round. The simple solution is to become stronger. For instance, if your pull-up max is 10 and your back starts to round after 8 or 9, increasing your strength to handle up to 20 pull-ups will naturally resolve the rounding issue as you progress.

 

Maximum Rep Test ★
  • Test your maximum number of pull-ups to gauge your current level.
  • Count and record the maximum number of pull-ups you can perform in one go with perfect form.
  • Conduct periodic intermediate tests to assess your muscle strength and adjust your workout routine as needed.

 

Gradual transition to adequate rest and a healthy diet ★
  • We are not machines but humans. Muscles grow during recovery after exercise, so adequate rest and nutrition are as important as the workout itself.
  • Resistance training causes minor damage to muscle fibers, which grow stronger and larger during the recovery process, typically taking 24-48 hours. Therefore, it is recommended not to do pull-ups daily but to allow ample recovery time. During this recovery period, engage in a well-rounded development routine like push-ups, running, swimming, or cycling. I usually take an average of two days of rest between pull-ups sessions.
  • While I do not recommend a diet dependent on just one type of food, I do not refrain from eating burgers or pizza when I feel like it. After all, I’m not eating burgers and pizza for every meal. Enjoying tasty food is part of the joy of life. However, could you sustain a workout regimen for life if you had to eat the same thing every day? Moderating the frequency of fast food or junk food intake and gradually incorporating healthy foods into a balanced diet is one of the driving forces that enable sustainable exercise.

How to use the routine

  • Pull-up Test 1 is conducted first.
  • If you achieve 0 pull-ups in Pull-up Test 1, start with the Pre-conditioning Week 2 routine.
  • If you achieve 1 to 5 pull-ups in Pull-up Test 1, start with the Week 1 routine.
  • If you achieve 6 to 9 pull-ups in Pull-up Test 1, you can choose to start with the Week 1 routine or begin with the U.S. Marine Corps Pull-up Routine Week 1.
  • If you achieve more than 10 pull-ups in Pull-up Test 1, start with Week 6 of the U.S. Marine Corps Pull-up Routine.
  • If you reach Week 14 of the Marine Corps routine and perfectly perform 15 reps in the first set, you transition to an intermediate pull-up routine (in preparation).
  • Repeat weeks if needed : If you feel not quite ready to move on to the next week, repeat the exercises of the previous week for an additional week to strengthen your foundational fitness.
  • Intermediate tests : Conduct a test approximately every 5 to 6 weeks to evaluate your current muscle strength level and appropriately adjust your workout routine.

The main pull-up page provides weekly workout routines to help you achieve your goals. We are here to support you in starting your pull-up journey successfully.


Lastly

Consistent exercise is not easy due to busy schedules and varying emotional states. However, the most important thing is to persist in your workouts even during tough times. Procrastinating on exercise due to self-justification or laziness makes change difficult. On the other hand, those who continue to exercise even in difficult circumstances develop self-management skills and form successful habits.
Exercise is one of the most honest activities, showing results commensurate with effort. A successful exercise routine depends on individual will and persistence. Especially for beginners, rather than expecting noticeable changes in a short period, it is crucial to persistently work and gradually improve skills. The amazing transformations seen in YouTube’s ’30-Day Bodyweight Workout’ videos are mostly due to ‘muscle memory’ in those who have prior workout experience. Although genetic factors can also play a role, this is not applicable to everyone.

Therefore, a long-term effort-focused attitude is essential. This is something I can assert based on my personal experience.

Lastly, thank you to everyone who visits this site. I wish you nothing but happiness and hope you lead a healthy life through exercise.

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