Pull-ups are one of those exercises that look so easy in movies and on TV, but doing a full set in real life? It’s definitely not at easy as it looks! Like most exercises, pull-ups take a lot of training and patience to get right. Today, we’re talking to Augusta trainer Byron Moody to get his tips on going from barely hanging on to full-on pull-ups.

how to do a pull up

When you’re just starting out, Byron says, “You need to build up strength using that pulling motion.” The best machine to use is the assisted pull-up bar. “You can choose which weights to use for your needs,” Byron says. Offsetting your full body weight at first will help your muscles learn the motion of the movement without being over-stressed. Start out with just one to three sets of repetitions. Over time, reduce the weights just enough to keep your muscles challenged. With a lot of training and patience, you can eventually take the weights off completely!

“Outside the gym is tougher,” Byron says, “because you have to find something to actually pull up on with no assist.” Many parks and playgrounds have pull-up bars, but beginners won’t be able to practice the pulling motion without assistance. Instead, try push-ups and other exercises that use your own body weight to start building up muscle. You can also replicate the pulling motion using free weights. It may take longer to get to a full pull-up without an assist machine, but don’t give up.

In general, Byron believes any workout that uses your own body weight is best. When working to help someone train, he encourages squats, push-ups, and other exercises that can be done with or without equipment. Looking at how fit and strong Byron is, it’s hard to imagine that once, he was just starting out. “I couldn’t do pull-ups in the beginning,” Byron says. “I started with the pull-up assist. Once I got comfortable doing them assisted, I gradually moved the pull-up bar.”

As for encouragement, Byron always feels proud of the effort clients put in during training. But he doesn’t believe you have to use a trainer to get results. “You don’t have to have another person,” Byron says. “I learned by myself.” Starting with small exercises and moving up can be the best way to get long term results. It’s all about challenging yourself along the way, whether it’s walking an extra block or pushing the pull-up bar a little higher. If you’re nervous about getting started with pull-ups, Byron says, “Nothing works better, from my experience, than just getting up there and doing it.” After all, fitness is achieved one rep at a time!

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