9 Progressive Pull Up Movements (Video)

Stuck at a plateau? These movements will get your pull ups progressing again.



Welcome to our series featuring calisthenics expert Al Kavadlo. This week, Al goes through a flow of pull-up progressions. These are inspired by the curriculum he teaches in the Progressive Calisthenics Certification.

Here are the six progressions to bring you from beginner to pull up aficionado:

  1. Australian Pull Up – This is also known as a recline row. Find a low bar, position yourself under it, and extend your arms to grip the bar. Pull your chest up to complete a rep.
  2. Jackknife Pull Up – Your feet will not be on the ground, but on an elevated surface. Again, find a bar to grip (higher than your feet) and pull, bringing your chin above the bar.
  3. Full Pull Up – We all know what a proper pull up looks like. At this point in the progressions, you'll be strong enough to tackle it. Avoid using momentum to get your chin above the bar.
  4. Close Pull Up – Move your hands closer together to make the movement harder. Pretend that you are pulling the bar down to keep your form strong.
  5. Clapping Pull Up – Here is where explosiveness and power come in. You can start off with your grip wide. When your chin gets above the bar, drive up once more, release your hands and clap them, and regrip the bar on the way down.
  6. Muscle Up – After pulling your chin to the bar, explosively use your arms to propel yourself above the bar and lock out. You can kip if you need to, but strive to reduce the kip over time.

These are further pull up benchmarks that you can aim for:

  • Archer Pull Up – When your chin is above the bar, one arm will be fully extended to the side, and your other elbow will be close to your ribs. It's okay if your grip shifts a little here.
  • One Hand Pull Up – Even though only one hand is gripping the bar, you can wrap your other hand around your wrist for support.
  • One Arm Pull Up – You'll need a grip of steel to accomplish this. Don't use your other hand for support here. Rise to the challenge and pull up with only one arm!

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Al doesn't call this Progressive Calisthenics for nothing. These movements span the spectrum of upper body pulling and will help you make the gains you are seeking.