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How to pull-up like a superhero!

Oh Pull-Ups, they are a quintessential exercise for aerial arts but and are the ultimate strength challenge!

When I first began aerial I couldn’t muster even the slightest bit of a pull-up. I’d say my arms were like floppy spaghetti noodles with no muscle tone whatsoever. But I knew that in order to take my skill level to the next level pull-ups had to be conquered!

What did I do? I put a pull-up bar in my bathroom doorway and made myself attempt a pull-up every time I walked through the door. Brushing my teeth, doing my makeup, taking a shower and using the toilet all equaled… yep, you guessed it DOING A PULL-UP!

You might be wondering how do you practice pull-ups if you can’t even do one?

Below is the reveal my step-by step pull-up action plan.

Chin-Up Grip

1. Know the difference between Pull-Ups & Chin Ups

Pull-Up Grip - Hands face away from you

Chin-Up Grip - Hands face toward you

Pull-Up Grip

Both the pull-up grip and chin-up grip are necessary hand positions for the exercises to come. The pull-up grip works the triceps and lats when performing a pull-up. The chin-up grip focuses more on the biceps when performing a chin-up. For most the pull-up grip will be more difficult than the chin-up grip due to the fact the lats and triceps do most of the work and not the biceps.

2) Pull-Up & Chin Up Hold

Place sturdy chair or stool underneath your pull-up bar. Stand on it to easily reach the bar. Place your hands on the bar slightly wider than shoulder distance with hands facing towards you. Pull your chin above the bar, draw your elbows into your sides and maintain hollow body position. Hold for as long as you can with proper form eventually working up to 30-60 seconds. When you can no longer hold carefully step back onto the chair. Repeat 2-3 holds.


The Chin-Up & Pull-Up Hold is an excellent strength builder to work your way up to doing full pull-ups and chin-ups. When you’re a beginner holding for five seconds may feel like an eternity! With regular practice your strength will increase and holding for longer will become easier.

Technique tips & Modifications • If a chair doesn’t suit your needs, find a steady object that will allow you to reach the bar and easily pull your chin above it. • Keep your legs together, abs engaged and neck long throughout. • Watch that you don’t allow your body to sway, hold everything tight and Together.

3) Negative Chin-Ups & Pull-Ups

Place sturdy chair or stool underneath your pull-up bar. Stand on it to easily reach the bar. Hold at the top for a few seconds. Begin to lower down slowly with control over the course of 10-15 seconds. Continue to lower, take your time. End with arms straight in a hollow body hang. Carefully release your grip and step back onto the chair. Repeat 5- 10x. Switch to a chin-up grip.


Negative Chin-Ups and Pull-Ups increase your strength and power to eventually be able to do a full pull-up/chin-up. The key is to move very slowly as you lower down to gain the most benefits, eventually taking an entire 30 seconds to lower!

Technique tips & Modifications

• The main goal of this exercise is to move slowly, not just dropping down to straight arms, this is when the strength building really happens.

• Negative chin-ups mainly work your upper and mid back, biceps, forearms and core. • To truly work your core efficiently in this exercise, think of pulling your abs in to stabilize your torso and spine. As you focus on lowering slowly, your abs kick in to minimize any swinging or arching in your lower back.

• Full range of motion is key here for developing long, lean, healthy muscles. Make sure you lower to fully straight arms, on each rep.

• Watch that you don’t allow your shoulders to shrug by your ears on the descent (this will over-work and tighten your trapezius muscles around your neck) be very aware of pulling your shoulder blades down.

• Be sure to switch your grip and do the same exercise using a pull-up grip as pictured below.

Assisted Pull-Ups & Chin-Ups

Loop a large superband around a pull-up bar. Place one knee or foot at a time into the band and reach your hands up to the bar. Grab the bar with a pull-up grip. Begin to lower down with control. Allow the band to assist you as you pull your chin above the bar. Be sure to keep your abs in and ribs together in the front. Continue to lower. End with your arms lengthened. Repeat 5-10x. Switch to a chin-up grip.


The superband around the bar helps to lift some of your weight, that way you can practice your pull-ups and chin-ups using your full range of motion but with assistance. Over time, you won’t need the band!

Technique tips & Modifications

• Pulling up is just as important as lowering down, do your best to make the most of each movement.

• Do not use momentum to pull your body up, this only cheats you out of gaining strength in the long run.

• When you begin the pull-up watch that you don’t arch your lower back, instead pull your front ribs together.

• Don’t allow your shoulders to shrug when pulling up and lowering down, this will over-work your trapezius and lead to strengthening the wrong muscles.

• When you’re new to doing these exercises try 2-3 sets of 3-5 reps and work your way up to doing more. Even if it’s only one, it’s a start!

Pull-Ups & Chin-Ups

Begin hanging in hollow body position in a chin-up or pull-up grip. Initiate the pull by drawing your shoulders down your back to bend your elbows. Continue to pull up until your chin is above the bar. Lower down with control. Finish with straight arms in hollow body hang. Begin with 1 rep working your way up to 10+.


Pull-ups and chin-ups are the ultimate upper body strength building exercises. For some they seem impossible to achieve! With proper practice of the exercises in this book, you will be fully prepared to conquer them!

Technique tips & Modifications

• The chin-up is usually easier to achieve than a pull-up, the different grips activate different muscles in your upper body. Chin-ups activate more of the biceps while pull-ups work more of the muscles in your back and triceps.

• Pulling up is just as important as lowering down, do your best to make the most of each movement.

• Do not kick your legs to help you lift your body. Maintain hollow body and pull yourself up using control.

• Keep your legs firm and pressing together to help stabilize.

• If your pull-up bar is at a height that you cannot fully straighten your legs then bend your knees, just be sure you don’t lose your abdominal connection and lengthened spine.

• When you begin the pull-up make sure that you don’t arch your lower back. Instead, pull your front ribs together.

• Don’t allow your shoulders to shrug when pulling up and lowering down, this will over-work your trapezius and lead to ineffective movements.

• Do the same exercise with your hands in a pull-up grip.

• Start with the goal of doing one pull-up, one is a huge achievement!

Want to learn more at home exercises you can do to improve your strength and mobility in the air? Click the link below to check out Aerial Physique FIT. The knowledge, information and images Jill shares with you in this manual will help you acquire the strength of a cirque performer, the legs of a ballet dancer and the abs of a Pilates pro.


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1 Comment

Aug 24, 2021

Hi thanks for sharing tthis

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