In 2018 it was my goal to lose weight (which I have accomplished) but now it is my goal to become stronger; one of the more specific goals I have is to be able to do a pull-up by December 2019.

What kind of exercises should I be doing to help me? And what muscle groups should I be targeting? I've been told that because I'm a girl it will be harder for me; is this true?

I'm pretty inexperienced and don't have much knowledge about strength and conditioning training so any advice would be helpful!

  • 2
    Men and women are fully capable of performing the same exercises, but men have an advantage when it comes to the upper body because they naturally carry more muscle mass there. Pull-ups are hard for all beginners, not just girls. Simply train appropriately and in time you’ll be able to perform them. Mar 21, 2019 at 15:20

4 Answers 4


There are various options, in order of least difficult to most you might try the following...

  • Lat Pulldowns (Can be scaled to any difficulty)
  • Dead Hang (30-60 seconds)
  • Scapular Pull-ups
  • Inverted Rows, Bent Legs
  • Negative (Eccentric) Pull-ups
  • Pull-ups, Band Assisted.
  • Inverted Rows, Straight Legs
  • Pull-ups

Additionally, these are all lat dominant exercises. The latissimus dorsi (“lats”) are muscles on the mid back that are involved in many pulling motions. They are also the primary muscle group responsible for completing good pull-ups. The rest of the upper back, the biceps, and forearms are also involved in this exercise.



Pull up is quite a challenge for beginners be it boys or girls, compared to other basic bodyweight movements.Even for lifters who've been training for years several pull-up sets of 10 with full ROM and clean form is quite enough to be a challenge. When I do a pull-up,I feel that the first set is usually easy,it then gets difficult as you go on,and the thing which I wanted to say is when I struggle to do pull-ups then,it's not my lats that give out first,it's usually my grip on the bar. So here are a few tips which you can try:

1.Do dead hangs and scapular retraction while hanging, would strengthen your arms for the grip.

  1. Practice the movement by doing negative pull-ups.Go use any platform or jump if you can to be in the top most position of a pull-up.Then try your best to complete the negative movement as slow and controlled as possible. If you have access to bands or some friend use the assistance to try the first half of movement.

3.Lats&core strengthening: Do some lat pulldown and straight arm pull downs.For core work on leg raises and planks. Have patience and good luck!


This a good video on how to do this: How To Start Calisthenics - PULL UPS | THENX

Some of the recommendations on how to achieve one pull-up can be a bit detailed for my taste. They involve different grips, negatives etc. I do not doubt it is effective, but it is also a lot of work and tedious.

Here is more or less how I achieved one pull-up (with some improvements in hindsight): Start by doing Australian pull-ups (inverted rows): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJe5xLbxaxg

Say you manage to do 3 of these. Then pause for 3 minutes and do 3 more. Repeat until you have done 10-15 in total. 2 or 3 days later you repeat this workout.

When you can do 8-10 Australian pull-ups in a row; move on to warming up with Australian pull-ups and then do chin-ups.

When you can do 3 chin-ups in row; you should be able to do 1 pull-up. Lack of volume is a practical problem when it comes to strength training. It means that you are probably better off sticking to chin-ups until you can do 3 pull-ups.

Regardless of how strong you become it is always good to do a combination of Australian and ordinary pull-ups. That is because Australian pull-ups are better for posture, whereas pull-ups are more useful (functional).

Also remember to eat enough protein and also some carbs and fat. It is better to gain a little bit of extra fat when gaining muscle. This fat will be easy to loose again later, since your slightly larger muscles will consume more energy.

Finally; while doing one pull-up is a great goal, I also think you should train the rest of the body. I recommend you check out the Starting Strength program. Alternatively you could also do push-ups + squats.

  • I had to look this up. “Australian Pull-ups” are better known as “Inverted Rows”, or (less common) “Bodyweight Rows”. Mar 25, 2019 at 17:23
  • Thank you, am I correct in thinking that the Australian pull up is the same as a ring row? I do intend on training the rest of my body; it's just that a pull up is one of the many goals I have for 2019 and that I seem to be struggling most with!
    – KRStewart
    Mar 29, 2019 at 4:57
  • I have not done ring rows myself but it seems very similar. I would guess ring rows has a bit more emphasis on stabilizing muscles which is good but leads to slightly slower progress. The main thing for me is that I can do Australian pull-ups in the park.
    – Andy
    Mar 30, 2019 at 8:13

the technique i am using -- i'm trying to get better at strict pull ups myself is:

practice, practice, practice:

  1. banded pull ups (you can buy bands at roguefitness.com -- they'll make it easier to start with)
  2. jumping pull ups
  3. negative pull ups (i think this is the correct name, or reverse pullups) ( u basically jump off a box(carefully) into the chin over the bar position, and constrict your muscles, and against gravity, SLOWLY let yourself down to the hang position. so, youre resisting the fall as much as possible
  4. box pull ups (find a box and a bar) place box in such a way as knees are bent and the box is effectively reducing the load on the pull up to make you lighter.
  5. ring rows (at varying angles)

voodoo flossing the muscles around the elbow helps

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