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If there is one exercise that is problematic for many, it is the pulls taken wide in front of the bar. Questions come up regularly about how to get better pull-ups or how to progress in the number of repetitions, in strength (with ballast) or simply on how to successfully do it.

You will, therefore, see in this article how to succeed in doing pull ups when you cannot do it, the path to take to get there without fail; how to increase your number of reps when you can only do 3 reps and how to increase your strength when you are very strong.

We will start in the lead with the objective of making pulls taken wide in front of the fixed bar, the basic version to develop ridges and an almost complete back! (The use of a variant in supination or in tight neutral grip does not allow, even while progressing, to progress on this version in wide grip in front).

1) Tractions: The Right Technique to do Pull-Ups

The wide grip pull-ups to high bar, the whole technical. It’s not about wiggling in all directions, throwing your legs forward or going up in a frog.

By using one or both of these techniques, unfortunately, muscle progression will not be there. The fact of having the upper back round, the rib cage retracted does not allow a good contraction of the dorsal and therefore a V-shaped development as desired.

The right way to do pull-ups, therefore, requires more strength and they do it this way:

Rib cage must remain extended during all the exercise, one must draw straight while being as much as possible under the bar and one should not swing. To not swing, you have to pull with your muscles and not with momentum while gaining.

Regarding the climb, for performance, we pass the chin above the bar. For a bodybuilding goal, gaining muscle, it is, however, possible to use partial amplitudes.

2) Pull-ups: What do pull-ups Work?

The pulls took wide in front of the fixed bar work mainly the external portion of the dorsal and develop the width of the back, the famous V:

Progressing Pull-ups

To work at best this external portion, you must not go too high (nose above the bar) without which you will be forced to tilt the bust back and the exercise will become a hybrid between pull-ups and rowing.

It is then possible by varying its grip and its rise to pull-ups to develop almost completely the back – apart from the lumbar.

Thus, doing tight neutral pull-ups by bringing the bottom of the pectorals to the bar theoretically develops the internal portion of the dorsal as well as the middle and lower portion of the trapezoids.

Between these two extremes, it is possible to vary infinitely its grip and its inclination of the bust in order to develop a maximum its back.

How to Do Pull-Ups

3) First case: I can’t pull up

When you start weight training, it is very rare to be able to do pull-ups right away. The difficulty is increased by the weight, the heavier you are, the more difficult it is.

This is why it is generally the small templates that we see wandering around on the fixed bar.

There is no need to despair if you cannot lift yourself; there are solutions to progress, which will undoubtedly allow you to be able to start progressing with the pulls taken wide in front of the fixed bar.

Here are two major solutions:

3.1) Pulls Taken Wide in Front of the High Pulley

Pulls taken wide in front of a high pulley

It is an easier version in the sense that:

We are seated and there is no gain in order not to swing. Thus, we can focus exclusively on the upper body technique, with the cage extended, while remaining straight.

You can choose your weight. Thus, you no longer have to lift your weight but the weight that you can lift and progress little by little.

To be able to do pull-ups taken wide in front of the fixed bar, you must succeed in pulling your body weight in series with the high pulley.

3.2) Pulls Taken Wide in Front of Unloaded

More efficient for quickly succeeding in pull-ups, the shedding machine which is unfortunately not very common in theaters.

Unlike the pulley where we are seated, we are in a position close to that which we will find on the bar although the movement is guided. There is a small notion of cladding which is directly introduced here to shoot straight.

We also acquire the sensation of pulling our body since we are removing weight thanks to the counterweight. So over the course of weeks and months, we remove the counterweight to finally manage not to put any more and raise ourselves at the bar.

There is a third solution of which we are not particularly a fan, it is the use of an elastic band which although it alleviates changes the dynamics of the movement.

How to Do Pull-Ups

4) Second case: I do 3 Repetitions and I Would Like to Do More

When you can only do a few reps, it is very hard to progress because it is as if you were doing heavy heats in another exercise & workout and trying to progress in each session.

The shorter the series, the harder it was to progress from session to session because the percentage of progression to gain was too large. This is why we recommend the use, mainly, of medium and long series.

We will extrapolate here on the fact that you do not have machines, that is to say, pulley and machine to unload in which case progress on one of these two variants would allow gaining repetitions more easily by progressing in long series above.

You therefore only have a fixed bar and wish to win repetitions. You are currently doing 3 with a strict execution technique.

We can here are to go through the tonnage route, that is, to multiply the number of series by doing a few repetitions each with low recovery times. Thus, we avoid “burning”, emptying our strength and we cut down more volume (series × reps) per session

Here, we offer an example of a cycle to double its number of repetitions in 8 weeks and therefore arrive at 6 repetitions. The recovery times are 1’30 between each series.

 On MondayThursday
Week # 110 reps:
10 × 1
10 reps:
5 × 2
Week # 212 reps:
2 × 2
8 × 1
12 reps:
6 × 2
Week # 314 reps:
4 × 2
6 × 1
14 reps:
7 × 2
Week # 416 reps:
6 × 2
4 × 1
16 reps:
8 × 2
Week # 516 reps:
8 × 2
15 reps:
5 × 3
Week # 622 reps:
10 × 2
18 reps:
6 × 3
Week # 722 reps:
2 × 3
8 × 2
21 reps:
7 × 3
Week # 824 reps:
4 × 3
6 × 2
max of rep!

5) Third case: I Want to Gain Strength in Pull-ups

Gaining strength in pull-ups

In this third case, we start from the assumption that you are already doing fifteen repetitions and that you want to gain strength to reach, for example, i.e. 10 repetitions with 20 kg of ballast or just take more back!

The good way to progress in strength in pull-ups is to train with a ballast, that is to say with an additional weight that can be attached with a weight belt or that can be slipped into a backpack. We are not a fan of wedging a weight between his feet, it can quickly degenerate (the weight slides) and your series is screwed up 🙂

Progressing pull-ups

You thus progress as with a normal exercise on which we would like to focus and it is, therefore, possible to do weighted pull-ups twice a week to progress faster if your recovery allows you.

6) Example of a General Program for Progressing Pull-ups

Let us now see an example program for a person wishing to focus on the chin in his training program assuming you’re training four times a week in the gym.

This is only an example of a program to adapt to suit you.

Monday :
  • Pull-ups took wide in front or variants depending on your case
  • The pulls with high pulley tight neutral grip : 3 × 8-12
  • Rowing with one arm with dumbbell : 3 × 8-12
  • Partial deadlift : 3 × 8-10
  • Hammer curl : 3 × 12-15
  • Inverted pulley curl : 3 × 12-15
  • Crunch at the high pulley : 3 × 15-20
  • Pool winding suspended from the fixed bar : 3 × 15-20
Tuesday :
  • Incline : 3 × 8-12
  • Decline : 3 × 8-12
  • Ecarte lying to the pulley 3 × 12-15
  • Neck extension : 3 × 12-15
  • Pullover Press : 3 × 12-15
  • The pulley kickback: 2 × 15-20
  • Pulls taken wide in front or variants depending on your case
  • Rowing bar overhand : 3 × 8-12
  • Rowing sitting at the low pulley with one arm : 3 × 12-15
  • Lateral pulley elevation : 3 × 15-20
  • Bird with dumbbells : 3 × 15-20
  • Military bench press : 3 × 8-12
  • Crunch : 3 × 15-20
  • Pool winding : 3 × 15-20
Friday :
  • Hack squat : 3 × 8-12
  • Inclined leg press : 3 × 10-15
  • Seated leg curl : 3 × 10-15
  • Extension to the lumbar bench at 90 ° : 3 × 15-20
  • Machine standing calves : 3 × 10-15


We have seen in this article how to progress in pull-ups, whether it is to do it, to progress in repetitions or simply to gain strength.

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