Level 1 – Kipping Pull-Up

Does a strict pull-up evade you? Not sure how to progress to get your first strict pull-up? Look no further! This progression will get you your first strict pull-up.

The primary purpose of this guide is to develop your kipping pull-ups. The reason I have strict pull-ups as the first level is for a few reasons.

First, kipping pull-ups result in dynamic movement in the shoulders. When this happens our likelihood of injury increases. Coupled with limited strength and we have a recipe for an injury. So the first reason is to develop strength in the shoulders, arms, and back to help prevent injury.

Second, a solid base of strength will help you do more kipping pull-ups. Strict pull-ups are the best tool we have for that.

Third, having enough pulling strength to do a strict pull-up is a pre-requisite to muscle-ups. If you plan to develop that skill later on you’ll need to have a firm grasp on strict pull-ups.

  • Current ability: 0 strict pull-ups. To be clear, this means not being able to hang from a bar and pull yourself up high enough where your chin clears the bar. This means without jumping, an exercise band, or any other tool.
  • Goal: 1 strict pull-up. Also, this means mastery over one strict pull-up. I don’t want you to move to level 2 on your first one. You should be comfortable jumping up to a bar and getting a strict pull-up pretty much any day of the week. What I recommend is to cycle through the microcycle one or two times before moving to level 2. The extra practice will prepare you for level 2. Trust me. Don’t rush good work. Take your time. It’s not a race. We want you to be a quality mover. We’re not trying to race through the program as fast as possible.
  • Note 1: We are going for control on these reps. Take a look at the video clips below and you will notice I keep a nice consistent pace going up and down.
  • Note 2: To complete a self-assisted pull up we will be using a squat rack. During level 1, we will be using these to supplement band pull-ups. When getting someone to their first pull-up, I prefer to use both band pull-ups and self-assisted pull-ups. You’ll find most coaches will only use bands during the level of pull-up training. The reason I don’t like that because band pull-ups do not mimic the same strength curve as a pull-up. With a strict pull-up, the hardest part is the bottom of the hand. With a band pull-up, it is the easiest. I have a video below of what a self-assisted pull-up looks like. There are MANY ways to customize this to be easy or difficult.
    1. Both legs.
    2. Stay on toes only.
    3. Use one leg.
    4. Put feet on a box or bench in front of you.
    5. Put weight on your legs.
  • Note 3: There are more variations in the upgraded programs.
WARM-UP3 sets 8-12 banded pull-ups. If you go over 12 move to a band with less resistance. If banded pull-ups are too difficult you can do self-assisted pull-ups until you are capable of progressing to the band. 5×5 Self-assisted pull-ups. Scroll down for information about the progressions. 3 sets of a max hang from a pull bar with 1-minute rest. This is to help build grip strength. If you can do more than a minute then you can skip.
COOL DOWNAccumulate 25 ring rows. Move up 3-5 reps a week until you move to level 2. If you can string together more than 10 in a row make the movement more difficult by being more parallel with the floor. 3×8-12 curls with barbell. 5×5 Self-assisted pull-ups.
COOL DOWNAccumulate 25 banded face-pulls. Move up 3-5 reps a week until you move to level 2.