CrossFit® Pull Up for Beginners: The Killer Guide

Written By Charleh Knighton  |  Pull-up 

When it comes to the world of fitness, few exercises are as iconic and transformative as the pull-up. This fundamental movement has the power to sculpt your upper body, boost your strength, and enhance your overall fitness level.

If you're new to the CrossFit® community or the fitness world in general, you might be wondering:

Are CrossFit® pull-ups effective?
Why do CrossFit® enthusiasts perform pull-ups in that unique way?
What's the standard for pull-ups in CrossFit®?

This is a killer guide that will unravel the mysteries of pull-ups, offering insights and tips for beginners seeking to conquer this challenging yet immensely rewarding exercise.

Understanding the Basics:
What is a Pull-Up?

Pull-ups are typically used as the gold standard fitness challenge on Instagram. They are hard and take a lot of practice to nail them.

While a pull up is deceptively simple, it's a powerful movement that targets a multitude of upper-body muscles. The basic technique involves three main steps:

  • Starting Position: Hang from a stable bar with fully extended arms and your body in a straight line.
  • Pulling Phase: Engage your back muscles by pulling your shoulder blades and elbows down and back, lifting your chin above the bar.
  • Return to Starting Position: Lower your body back down to the hanging position in a controlled manner.

Pull-ups can be performed with different grips, and each variation targets specific muscle groups.

The pronated grip (palms facing away) emphasizes the lats and back, while the supinated grip (palms facing toward) places additional focus on the biceps.

These variations are crucial in understanding the versatility and benefits of pull-ups.

CrossFit Pull Up for Beginners The Killer Guide

Why Pull-Ups are Essential in CrossFit®

Whether you're an aspiring CrossFit® athlete or simply seeking to enhance your overall fitness, incorporating pull-ups into your routine can yield numerous benefits.

Pull-ups are a testament to upper body strength, analogous to what squats and deadlifts are to lower body strength. Engaging in pull-up exercises contributes to a well-rounded physique, strengthening muscles in the upper back, lats, and shoulders.

In CrossFit®, pull-ups are a core movement to multiple workouts. As one of the only sports that has multiple variations, it challenges you and your body to go to the next level.

For safety, its recommended to focus on strict pull-ups first, then progress onto kipping and finally butterfly pull ups and chest to bar pull-ups. For example, butterfly pull-ups are considered an advanced movement designed for competitive CrossFit® and you need to have the prerequisite strength to reduce the potential risk of injury.

Decoding the Kipping Pull-Up

While the strict pull-up focuses on controlled and isolated strength, the kipping pull-up introduces an element of dynamic movement.

This technique involves using a swinging motion to generate momentum, allowing for faster and more efficient repetitions. Plus, a ton of fun.

Watch the video below to kick start your kipping pull-ups:

The Journey to Your First Pull-Up: Training Strategies

Building the strength required for pull-ups requires consistent and deliberate training.

  • Start with Negatives: Begin by performing negative pull-ups, which solely focuses on the lowering phase. This eccentric movement builds strength and familiarizes your muscles with the pull-up motion.
  • Assisted Pull-Ups: Use assistance methods like bands or partner assistance to gradually increase the load on your muscles as you progress.
  • Weighted Pull-Ups: Once you can perform a few unassisted reps, consider adding weight to challenge your muscles further.
  • Scaling Pull-ups: From ring rows, seated, jumping and many more. There are a ton of scaled pull-up variations you can start with before heading into a strict pull-up. You can read more about scaling options here.

Balancing Frequency and Recovery

While pull-ups can be a daily practice for those with adequate strength and experience, beginners should focus on a balanced routine. Allow sufficient time for muscle recovery and optimize progress.

Incorporating pull-ups into your routine two to three times a week, with rest days in between, is an effective approach for beginners.

Want more guidance? Why not check out a supplementary program, WPx Gymnastics and start your road to crushing pull-ups in CrossFit® today.

To Summarize

The journey to mastering CrossFit® pull-ups is a rewarding endeavor that goes beyond physical strength. It's about developing mental resilience, perfecting technique, and achieving a balanced and sculpted upper body. 

Whether you're aiming for strict pull-ups, exploring kipping variations, or seeking to enhance your overall fitness, embracing pull-ups as a foundational exercise can have a transformative impact on your CrossFit® journey.

Remember, consistency, patience, and proper form are your allies in conquering the pull-up challenge. So, take that first step towards the bar and let your pull-up journey begin!

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