How to do Pull-ups

Pull-ups are a compound upper-body exercise. They can be a difficult exercise to perform. With a little strength and a dash of willpower, pull-ups can be one of the most gratifying exercises in any fitness plan. This step by step guide will help you do a basic pull-up.

Our pull-up guide has the perfect pull-up style for every fitness level. Beginners might want to try the Australian or the Dead Hang variation! For that extra burn, crush the challenge with the Tornado or the Three Finger style.

The Basic Pull-up Steps

Step 1

Take hold of your pull-up apparatus (see Where To Do Pull-ups below) with your hands at slightly wider than shoulder width apart and your palms down facing away from you.

Step 2

Hang from your pull-up apparatus with straight arms and your legs off the floor. Be sure not to fully extend your arms so that your shoulders are at or above chin height.

Step 3

Using your arms and back muscles, pull yourself up towards your hands and point your elbows down towards the floor. Keep your abdominal muscles tight.

Step 4

Pull your body all the way up until your chin passes the height of your hands. Your elbows should be pointed towards the floor. This is one full repetition, or rep.

Step 5

Lower yourself until your arms are once again straight. If doing more than one repetition, repeat steps 1 through 5.

Pro Tip: Assisted Pull-ups using specific gym equipment or resistance banding can also be used to help make pull-ups easier.

Where to do Pull-ups

Fitness combo machine with pull-up bars

The Gym

Metal playground with monkey bars and rings.


Duonamic's Eleviia modular travel pull-up system camped to a doorway.

At Home

A panda hanging in a tree while eating bamboo leaves.

Be Creative!

WARNING: Do not do pull-ups in any dangerous locations. This challenge is meant to spread awareness for bullying and not stunt promotion.

30+ Types of Pull-ups

Just in case you were feeling a little more ambitious, or wanted to try something a little different you're more than welcome to do the challenge with any one of these other types of Pull-ups. While some of these variations might be easier for beginners, others are more challenging for advanced pull-up challengers. If these choices aren't enough for you, get creative and make up your own type. Just be sure to follow the Bullying Pullup Challenge Instructions.

1. Dead Hang

The Dead Hang is a good pull-up introductory exercise. Hang under the bar with your shoulder muscles engaged or 'packed'. You should not feel like your arms are being pulled out of their sockets. Hang under the bar for as long as you can.

2. Incline

Also called the Inverted Row, this variation is the easiest for most beginners. With the bar positioned at waist height, hands griped wider than shoulder width apart, and your body fully extended pull your chest up to the bar for a full pull-up rep.

3. Decline

Similar to the Incline Pull-up, the decline pullup positions your feet higher than the bar height. With your grip wider than shoulder width apart, pull your upper body towards the bar.

4. Australian

The incline and Decline pull-ups are variations of the Australian pull-up. These are easier for beginners that don't have access to an assisted pull-up machine or resistance bands. Mix other pull-up types with the Australian to work different muscles.

5. Wide Grip

Similar to the basic or traditional pull-up, position your hands wider than shoulder width apart. The wider the grip the more challenging the pull-up becomes. This variation engages the lat and shoulder muscles.

6. Close Grip

Opposite to the Wide Grip pull-up, position your hands narrower than shoulder width apart. The closer the grip, the more the bicep muscles are engaged.

7. Neutral Grip

Similar to the basic or traditional pull-up, the Neutral Grip variation positions your palms facing each other. This pull-up will work your shoulder, scapular, and elbow muscles.

8. Chin Up

Similar to the basic or traditional pull-up, the chin up variation switches your hand position on the bar so that your palms are facing you.

9. Commando

The commando variation positions your hands in a row on the same bar with the palms facing each other.

10. Behind the Neck

Similar to the basic or traditional pull-up, this exercise positions your body more forward so that as you pull your body upward, the bar ends up behind your neck. This exercise is not recommended by most coaches.

11. Kipping

According to CrossFit founder Greg Glassman, the kipping pull-up is a full body movement that increases the demands on coordination and agility compared to a strict pull-up. See your CrossFit trainer for instructions.

12. Plyometric

Otherwise known as the Plyo pull-up, this is a calisthenics movement exercise that uses explosive power. Change your grip at the apex of this variation to increase the difficulty or incorporate Australian style to make it easier.

13. Archer

Great for developing the the One Arm pull-up, the archer positions one elbow fully extended. This pull-up works one arm and back muscles more than the other. Alternate to ensure even muscle development.

14. One Arm

Known as the most difficult pull-up exercises. Using one arm with your hand firmly grasping the bar, pull yourself up.

15. L-Sit

Using the basic or traditional hand positioning, pull your budy upward while sitting with your legs fully extended in front of you making an L shape with your body.

16. The X Grip

Crossing your arms with your palms facing out, pull your body upward while keeping your body as straight as possible.

17. Eccentric

Using any pull-up type, lower your body back to the starting position over 5 to 10 seconds. The increased duration will help build muscle faster and more effectively than performing the exercise at normal speed.

18. Gorilla

Lift your knees to chest level as you pull your body upward to execute the Gorilla pull-up variation. To make this one more difficult, hold a dumbell or medicine ball between your feet.

19. Uneven

Similar to the Archer Pull-up, this variation positions your grip and varying heights. This exercise puts emphasis on one side of your body over another. The Uneven pull-up is great for sport and traditional rock climbers.

20. Combo Grip

The Combo Grip variation positions your palms facing opposite directions. Other than that, it's pull-up business as usual.

21. Cable (TRX)

Using suspended grips, position your body in a similar way to the Australian pull-up. Bend your knees and rest your feet flat on the ground.

22. Assisted Vertical Grip

Place one foot in resistance banding suspended above you and hold your grip on vertical bars positioned on either side of your body.

23. Isometric

Similar to the Dead Hang, the 'Isometric Pull Up' or 'Static Hold Pull Up', is a strength building exercise. Pull yourself up keeping your chin over the bar, chest high, and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold this position for as long as you can.

24. Tornado

Similar to the basic or traditional pull-up with an added a torso rotation and leg movement. This variation is designed to be an incredible total body exercise.

25. Around the World

Instead of pulling yourself directly up, pull your body in a circular motion towards your right hand and continuing to your left in a clockwise motion. Return to the starting position while maintaining the circular motion flow.

26. Towel Grip

This variation will help build your grip strength. Wrap two strong towels around the pull-up bar. Holding onto both towels at approximately shoulder width apart, do a pull-up. Use one towel or widen the towels to increase the difficulty.

27. Three Finger

Generally done by rock climbers, the 3 finger pull-up is just that. A traditional pull-up holding on with 3 fingers on each hand. Bonkers right?

28. Frenchies

Use the basic or traditional pull-up form for this variation. For each new pull-up rep hold your pose for 3-5 seconds on the way down when you're arms form an angle of 0 degrees, then 45 degrees on the next rep, then 90 degrees on the next rep, then 120 degrees on the rep. Rinse and repeat the cycle.

29. Front Lever

Similar to the L-Sit pull-up form straight line with your whole body parallel to the ground. Maintain this pose as you pull your body towards the bar.

30. Weighted

This excercise is similar to the basic or traditional pull up with an added weight attached to your body. The more weight, the harder the pull-up. Weights are typically secured using a specialized dip belt.

31. Muscle Up

A Muscle-up is a calisthenics exercise that ends the pull-up with your arms fully extended and upper body above the bar.

Have a Pullup Variation to add to the List?