How to Do a Proper Pull Up | Nerd Fitness

How to Do a Proper Pull Up | Nerd Fitness

– What’s up everybody, Steve Kamb from here. I am joined by two team
members of Team Nerd Fitness, Jim Bathurst and Staci Ardison. And we’re here at Camp Nerd Fitness, and I wanted to shoot a quick video to explain to everybody
how to do a proper pull-up. I know it’s one of those goals that everybody is trying to work towards. And there are a few key things
that you want to think about as you’re trying to reach that goal, and then string a few of them together. (upbeat dance music) So Jim, what do you see when people do pull ups? What do they do wrong? And what can they start doing
to start doing them right? – Alright, first off we’ll talk about the difference between
chin-up and pull-up. A lot of times people use
the terms interchangeably but actually when we talk about chin-ups, we talk about palms facing your body. Pull-ups are palms facing away. So chin-ups, pull-ups. You got it? Left, right, you know. (laughs) – So, why are these chin-ups
and why are these pull-ups? – You know what? The
exercise gods set that up ages ago.
– Some sort of wizard years ago.
– Years ago, yeah. – Okay, I was just curious. – Probably Jack LaLanne, I have no idea.
(Steve laughs) – This is the front porch,
this is the side porch, and this is the back porch. – So chin-ups facing like this. We’ll talk about these first. For a lot of people, chin-ups are gonna be a
lot stronger start off. So I usually see people
doing maybe three chin-ups for every pull-up they can do. We’ll first start off and we’ll have Staci jump
up on the bar in just a sec. We’ll talk about the
bottom position, okay? Now I see a lot of people not
get a full range of motion. They’ll lower down, their
elbow will still be bent. Their shoulder is just not
in a good position like this. So when we start at the beginning, we want the elbow fully extended. Okay? And before you begin that chin-up, we want the shoulders
pulled away from the ears. So let’s do a couple of
those shrugs up and down. So that’s good engagement. That’s not good engagement. You want to make sure the
engagements, hold right there. Up up, there you go. We want to make sure we
hold that engagement there, before we begin to bend the elbows. You can relax, give
your arms a little rest. Okay? If we try to pull up like this with the shoulders up by our ears, we’re gonna have a bad time of it. – (laughs) We’re gonna have a bad time. – We’re gonna have a bad time. – If you look down, you’re gonna fall, you’re gonna have a bad time. – [Jim] And the shoulders
are gonna be out of position. I’ll let her relax just a little bit. So that’s the first cue, is to make sure we get
a full range of motion. Elbows are fully extended at the bottom. And then before we start that chin-up, get those shoulders engaged,
down, and away from the ears. When Staci is ready to pull up, wait, I’ll give you a little rest. (Staci laughs)
I’ll give you a little rest. – She’s so excited to do pull-ups. (Jim and Staci laughs) – Just hang there for five minutes. – It’s gonna be okay. – Once the shoulders are engaged
and she begins to pull up, she wants to think about
leading with the chest and keeping things open just a bit. A lot of times, and this is usually a matter of either the people not aware of it or maybe even lack of strength, people will tend to curl inwards. They’ll lift their legs up like this. This is no good, okay? They look like a little fetal chin-up. – Can I show you one of those?
– Yeah sure, yeah. – Well first of all when
they’re doing the pull-ups, they’re thinking that’s a… But that’s not a full… You gotta go–
– All the way down. – But then, it’s the (grunts). – It’s the curl-up like this. (laughs) (Steve grunting)
(Jim laughing) Now if someone gets
their chin over the bar, I still count that as a chin-up. Please, I’m not trying to take
your chin-up away from you. I’m not that guy. Steve might tell you that’s not a chin-up.
– No no no, I would never. (Jim and Staci laughing)
I would never. You know, when people are trying
to be good at these things, working towards a perfect
chin-up, that’s what I wanna… – You almost said perfect push-up. This is not an infomercial.
(Staci laughing) Alright so for the chin-up, like I said, we want to keep the shoulders back, we wanna keep the chest up, we wanna keep the body open. Okay? All of them are going
to be working together. If anything starts to collapse, then the whole system starts to collapse. So we’ll get Staci back up on the bar. Elbows are fully extended. Shoulders engaged, away from the ears. And then as she pulls up, the body is open, shoulders back. Boom, chin up right over
the bar, chest to the bar. Hold it. No I’m kidding, come on down. (Steve and Staci laughing) And relax. So again, keeping things
nice and open like this. – Just stay here for 20 to 30 minutes. – Now if you’re strong in the chin-up, you might, again, find yourself
maybe a little bit weaker in the pull-up, as I mentioned. So, make sure that you still
have that same good form for the pull-up. So rock and roll. Palms facing away in that pull-up form. Engage the shoulders and then big pull up. Pull, pull, pull, pull.
– Yeah, good one. – And come on down. So again, this is a little
bit tough for her right now. She’s also done a thousand push-ups in the previous take.
(Steve and Staci laughing) So if we start to see the shoulders lift up a little bit like this in the chin-up or the pull-up, we can also work ourselves up onto a box with an assisted chin-up or pull-up. So let’s pop that box into position. Now, so Staci will hop on up. We want to make sure we have
a box that’s high enough so that when she comes over to the bar, her toes are on the box and
her chest is on the bar. That’s the perfect height. If it’s any higher than that, again, we’re not going to be able to assist in that full range of motion. Now, it doesn’t matter how much weight you’re putting under your feet. You might feel like
you’re putting 100% of it, it’s probably only 99% and
you’re probably not that bad. But, like I said, you want to put as much weight
as you need to on the feet. So let’s actually start
with chin ups-on this one. So palms facing. Okay. What Staci is gonna do is,
she’s gonna get up on her toes. So get up on more on the front
part of your toes instead. And then from here, see. If I took a picture of this right now, so get into a really nice
good perfect chin-up form. If you took a snapshot from the waist up, it looks like a perfect chin-up. That’s exactly what we want
and it’s assisted that way. She’s then going to lower herself down. Toes are still on the box. Okay, we’re at the bottom
position we talked about. Elbows are fully extended, she’s going to engage her shoulders. And then use the feet and
the arms simultaneously to pull herself up. Chin over the bar, chest to bar. Let’s do it one more time
with the assisted chin-up. Okay, engage the shoulders. Chest up to the bar. Now let’s flip our hands around. So we saw the pull-up from before, okay. And again, we’re a little tired. It was a little bit out of position. Make sure we’re in a good position here, palms facing away in
our good pull-up form. Now let’s drop below the bar. Elbows fully extended. Engage the shoulders
before you bend the elbows. And then go nice and slow. Slower, slower, slower. Let’s try it again. Let’s try it again, you got it. (Steve and Jim laughing) So engage the shoulders. Chest up, chest up. Use those feet as you need to. Boom. So as you can see, with
the box as an assist, we can get a higher range of motion. We can get the shoulders
into a better set position throughout and especially at the top. – Great.
– There you go. – Pull those shoulders back. Just the thing that I think
I see too many people do is just violently swinging
and throwing their body to get above the bar. And like you said, if you get the chin
above the bar to start, that’s awesome.
– That’s a chin-up. – That’s a chin-up, it counts. As you get more comfortable with them, it’s something you can work
a little bit more towards to have that proper, perfect form. So that you can start crushing
multiple pull-ups in a row, multiple chin ups in a row.
– Muscle-ups. – And this is what works you toward the mother of all
exercises, the muscle-up. Thank you so much for watching. Make sure you check out
the rest of our videos. And head over to
to join the rebellion, and level up your life today. – Looks like we got ourselves
a good ol’ fashion dad-off. (arcade music)

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  1. Best video of the month! I'm paying attention to the space between my ears and shoulders next time I work out. Thank you!

    I would love to see how to videos from you guys on the squat and deadlift, including how to choose a variation that's best for your experience and mobility levels.

  2. I've done the low lifts under the table, but I could never figure out exactly how to put the box (or chair in my case) for the assisted. Thanks for that.

    I also had not known about the shoulders away from the ears. I think that will help a lot. Thanks.

  3. The video is awesome. I have been scouring the internet looking for a "How to", this is the best by far. I have been training for a while now and the chin/pull up remains elusive. It is my ultimate goal. The video is great, but I think its coming down to simple strength. My question is, what exercises can you do to build the correct or necessary muscles and strength? Lifting (i.e.: deadlifts.) and pushing (i.e.: push presses) are my thang, its the pulling that's a problem. The "do or do not, there is no try" self talk has not helped much either 🙂

  4. Good work Staci, you might not have been as chatty as the two gentlemen but who needs to use their mouth when they can let their arms do the talking?

  5. The only thing I hate…HATE about doing chin ups is when guys leave the damn bar with oily lotion from oily lotion covered hands and now it is impossible to do even 1 single chin up/pull up!Guys..and ladies too!DO NOT PUT ON LOTION PRIOR TO WORKING AT IN A GYM OR A PUBLIC PARK….because other people need to/do use that same bar too!

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