4 Pull Up Progression Exercises For Calisthenics Progression

Essential.  Foundational. Fundamental.

A few words on why you need to be able to do a pull up.

After setting up the 6 month training plan, I received a lot of emails on ‘How to do your first pull up”.


You might have tried to get your first pull up without any prior training and realized that it was not as easy as it looked.

Most Bar Brothers make it look easy.

They trained for it. Busted their asses off.

How can you make it look just as easy?


I know.


By starting to develop the basic strength.


By doing the 4 exercises which I am going to share with you.

The fun thing? You don’t need any prior training to be able to do them.


 The 4 Exercises For Pull Up Progression


1. The Passive Hang Pull Up


Pull Up Progression Calisthenics


Main muscles: Forearms, Shoulders

Secondary muscles: Chest (Abs optional)


  1. Grab the bar with either an overhand of underhand grip at shoulder width.
  2. Hang from the bar while keeping your legs straight (You can make it more difficult and train your abs in the process by raising your legs to a 90 degree angle, see picture).
  3. Hold this position.


Exercise: 30 seconds of hanging


Note: If you want to make it more difficult and also hit the abs, you can do it as shown in the picture (either with stretched forward legs or with your legs tucked in). If you have a higher bar, you can just let your legs hang.


2. Active Hang Pull Up


Active Hang Calisthenic Workout


Main muscles: Forearms, Shoulders, Biceps

Secondary muscles: Chest (Abs optional)


  1. Grab the bar with either an overhand of underhand grip at shoulder width.
  2. Pull yourself up as far as you can and hold it. Aim for at least a 90 degree angle.
  3. Hang from the bar while keeping your legs straight (You can make it more difficult and train your abs in the process by raising your legs to a 90 degree angle, see picture).
  4. Hold this position.


Exercise: 15 seconds of hanging


3. Reverse Pull Up


Bar Brothers Reverse Pull Up Calisthenis Workout


Main muscle group: Biceps, Shoulders, Lower Traps

Secondary: Middle & Lower Back


  1. Set the bar to waiste height or higher.
  2. Move your body underneath the bar, while holding it.
  3. Make sure you have a firm underhand or overhand grip with both hands.
  4. Keep your body as straight as possible (tense your abs and glutes/ass) and pull yourself towards the bar (Try touching the bar with your chest).
  5. Hold it for 2 seconds at the top and count till 5 while going down.
  6. Make sure you keep a your body completely straight.
  7. You can change the difficulty. The more you move the bar towards your shoulders in the starting position, the more difficult it gets.


Number of repetitions: 15


4. Jump into negative


Negative Pull Up Calistenics Workout


Main muscle group: Biceps, Shoulders, Triceps

Secondary: Back & Abs


  1. Grab the bar with an overhand grip at shoulder width.
  2. Jump up while at the same time pulling yourself above the bar or as high as you can.
  3. Hold yourself at the highest point (Now comes the part where you are really going the increase your strength).
  4. Slowly let yourself down by bending your arms and making a downward motion, the slower the better. This is called the negative part of a pull up, whereas pulling yourself up is the positive end.
  5. When going down make sure your feet don’t touch the ground.
  6. Repeat.


Number of repetitions: 10


Note: You can do this with a high or low bar, I personally prefer the low bar because you will have a bigger range of motion (By doing so you stimulating even more muscle groups).


Pull Up Progression Beginner Routine


1. 20-30 seconds passive hang

2. 10-15 reverse pull ups

3. 10-15 seconds active hang

4. 5-10 negative pull ups


Repeat this cycle 3-4 times at least 3 days a week to develop some serious pull up power.

If the negative pull ups get too difficult and you can’t hold it, do them anyways or replace them with reverse pull ups.


But what if doing a pull up is something you do with ease?

Try increasing your hanging time to 60 seconds both passive and active, this will also give you some serious strength gains.

Secondly, the negative pull ups are a good way to start developing muscle up strength, you can incorporate them into your training schedule.

Or just check out the essential 6 month beginner guide.


While it might seem easy in the picture, I guarantee you it wasn’t.

I was freezing my ass off and my hands were hurting from the cold.

Things are not always as easy as they seem.

But if it were easy everybody would do it, wouldn’t they?


Beast Mode ON!


61 thoughts on “4 Pull Up Progression Exercises For Calisthenics Progression

  1. Hi

    i keep swinging with my legs when im on the bar
    i know i need to control it for better results but i just can’t stop it
    how do i get rid of this swinging ?

    Regards, Winston

  2. Hey Rich,
    You are amazing beyond anyone I know! Without you I would still only be doing one pull-up, Thank you.
    I’m on week 2 of Bar Brother’s System, but I’m unable to do the amount of reps of each upper body workout (pull-up, chin-ups, wide pull-ups…). I’m doing a bet with some friends to not lose motivation and finish the 12 week program, but it’s too hard to do. I want to get stronger and better, but I’m not strong enough to do the workouts listed. Please help

  3. Man the movement seems really cool and I’ve been looking for something like this….ill have to wait though because my parents won’t pay this for me. I’m 15 at the moment and I want to do the program, so is there anyway I can find these workout without having to pay for the program???

  4. Hi Rich, I’ve been starting on the Bar Brothers system for one week. I noticed that during my chin up, my hand grip seems to be loose. Any advice on how to improve my hand grip? *fist bump*

    1. Hey Mohamed,

      Great question.

      1) Try some chalk, it prevents losing grip due to sweaty hands.
      2) Add some passive hanging to your training try hanging completely relaxed for 5×60 seconds as a bare minimum.

      Beast mode ON!

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