The Beginner Pull Up Program: Hanging and Shoulder Activation

Hanging does for your shoulders what deep squats do for your hips.

Photo by Bev Childress

Photo by Bev Childress

The Beginner Pull Up Program is designed to help you achieve your first strict pull up. If you already have a pull up or two, this program will help you progress your strength toward longer sets and more advanced pulling movements. The program is broken into five weeks, each focusing on a different aspect of the pull up. Each week brings a new sequence of exercises to be repeated 3-4 times in the week. These are 15-20-minute sequences meant to supplement your normal regimen.

See the other parts of the series here:

Hanging and Shoulder Activation

Hanging does for your shoulders what squatting does for your hips. Just like a deep squat, hanging represents an essential human position. Like all other primates, our shoulder design not only allows for hanging, but requires it for optimal function. The best way to improve your overhead mobility while readying your shoulders for pulling is simply to hang.

Part 1 of the program begins with basic scapula (shoulder blade) mobility, then focuses on exercises to strengthen your ability to initiate a pull up from a dead hang.

Beginner Pull Up Workout – Week 1

A. Scapular Circles (on all fours): 10 each direction

4 rounds:

B1. Passive Hang: 20-30sec
B2. Active Hang: 10sec
C. Side Swings: 5 each direction, 4 sets

D. Scapular Pull Ups: 5 reps, hold 1-2 sec at top, 4 sets

E. Hanging Shoulder Circles: 3/3, 4 sets

F. Arched Lat Pull Down: 3 (with 3+ sec hold), 3 sets