Teaching & Scaling the Pull Up

While a staple of many fitness routines, the pull up can be a tricky movement to use with young or inexperienced students and athletes. It is one of the more daunting movements for some students and athletes, as it is extremely difficult to perform even 1 rep without first practicing and developing the requisite strength and body control. Often, kids will avoid the movement altogether. As teachers and coaches, we cannot expect athletes to simply hop up on the bar and get better through failed attempts. Instead, we should develop a pulling progression that puts athletes on the path to getting their first strict pull up. This progression is built on movement variations of increasing difficulty that continually reinforce proper mechanics. We begin by introducing good pulling technique through the inverted row (using rings, TRX bands, or a barbell). After sound technique is learned, and once an athlete can complete 3 or sets of 5 strict ring rows, he or she can slide the feet forward to increase difficulty. After fully mastering the inverted row, we can transition the athlete to the bar with the assistance of a band. With enough practice, this in turn will get the athlete to the point of pull up success!

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