Ever year during the Open we see videos on social media of athletes getting their very first Pull Up or Muscle Up. They reach the top of the bar with a burst of surprise and delight. The box erupts with excitement and they scream the house down, finally ticking pull ups off the goal list.

We are now two weeks into the open and still no pull ups or muscle ups………… well they are coming in the mail. Maybe you are hoping for your first pull up or muscle up? or maybe it is a goal for the next open. But where do we start? how do we reach this mile stone of our crossfit journey?

You need to understand that your map is not going to look like Sally’s map and Sally’s map is not going to look like Bob’s map. Everyone’s training needs will be slightly different and the areas you may need to work on are specific to you. I am going to give you some of the main progressions I have found most effective. I was lucky when I started CrossFit I could do over 20 strict pull ups. My unit in the army had gone pull up mad. By lunch time on average day I could have done 50 strict pull ups, just for fun, but here is what I have learnt.

Tip 1


This is the last thing any one wanted to read, right? surely to get more pull ups we just need to be doing more ring rows or add more bands or do pull ups every day, right? I am sorry but the fastest way possible to increase ones ability to pull their body weight up towards a bar that they are hanging from, is to decrease the amount of weight you have to shift. What would make a 87kg deadlift easier? make it a 75kg deadlift.

Lets just imagine we have Bob, Bob is 87kg with a lean muscle mass of 65kg, giving Bob a body fat percentage of 19%. Now if Bob decided he did not want to listen to Coach and give up coca cola, bread, pasta and coco pops. Bob wants to stay at 87kg. His current pulling power is 62kg of force, he needs to add a Red and Yellow band to do a strict pull up. Bob needs to increase his pulling power by nearly 30% to be able to achieve a Pull up. Lets say Bob trains his heart out for 12 months increasing his strength by 30% which is a huge achievement. Well hear comes the kicker, the real shit part, bob has added 5 to 10kg of muscle mass over the 12 months and now weighs 92kg. Bob is now really strong but still can’t do a pull. If Bob finally listens to Coach and works on his diet, drops 12kg in 4 weeks, he could then punch out 5 strict pull ups and away he goes.

It could be a long and frustrating journey and the fastest route is to start with diet, I guaranty you will reach that Pull up or Muscle up in half the time of just working on strength and skill.



Tip 2

Strict Work

If your after a Pull up or Muscle Up, you need the strength to lift yourself up. No matter how good your kip is or how powerful your hips are or how lean you are, you still need the strength to pull yourself up. If you want to add some accessory work before or after class, do 4 sets of 3 reps of a STRICT pull up using bands. If your after a Muscle Up do 4 sets of 3 reps of a STICT chest to bar pull up. If you can do that minimum of 3 times per week, it will not be long until you are reducing bands and flying over the bar.





First off let’s use a pinch grip on the bar. There are many reasons for a pinch grip, but the main reason is, it is going to be your strongest grip, so let’s work on it from day dot.

Active shoulders before we start kipping we need the strength in our shoulders to hold in an active position for at least 30 second.

Your grip is everything, work on it and it will pay back with interest.


Tip 4

Drills and Progressions

Kipping drills, muscle up transition drills, hollow/arch drills, negative pull ups, banded pull ups, ring rows, will all help get you to pull ups. Try not to get focused on Rep after Rep of attempting the full movement. The drills are there for a good reason. It will fast track you to the end result, pull up or muscle up. Spend the time doing the drills. You can hollow and arch anywhere, you don’t need a gym.


Tip 5

The Kip

I don’t care how good you think your at kipping, it can always be stronger it can always be faster It can always be tighter.

So practice practice practice.