The Missing Key to Conquering Your First Pullup: Stop Focusing on Eccentrics and Do This Instead

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Shots have been fired.

Shots have been fired.

Some people will read the title of this post and see what they want to see…

“…Tony G has lost his mind. He’s telling people that doing eccentric only pull-ups to help build their actual pull-up is wrong. He also hates kittens.”

Others will know better and actually continue reading.

The Missing Ingredient to Conquering Your First Pull-Up

I’d be remiss not to note that most competent programs designed to help people become pull-up badasses either emphasize or incorporate eccentric only variations.

Hell, one of the most baller programs out there (and one I reference often myself) – Meghan Callaway’s Ultimate Pull-Up Program (ahem, it’s its 3-year anniversary this week and it’s on sale for 50% OFF the regular price hint, hint, nudge, nudge) – incorporates a bevy of eccentric only pull-ups…

…among many, many other things.

I mean, it’s well established that the eccentric (or lowering) portion of any exercise is generally where a trainee is strongest, can handle the most load, and, potentially, leads to the most muscle growth.


All the above being the case, when it comes to BUILDING the pull-up, I still feel too many trainees (women AND men, mind you) miss the forest for the trees.

Despite it being an excellent choice, performing 5 to 10 lackluster eccentric only pull-ups week in and week out does not a pull-up make.

It’s akin to me posting a shirtless pic on my profile – and only a shirtless pic – and then underneath that pic typing…

…”come get it ladies.”

Sure, it may work in netting me a few dates.

But I doubt it.1

First of all: I’m a happily married man and don’t have a profile. It’s just a metaphor. But, coincidentally enough, I did meet my wife there…;o)

Second: I’d like to think my superior writing skills and uncanny wit was what won her over and led to us meeting for our first date four days after crossing paths digitally.

Third: In the age of Tinder, Bumble, and the litany of other dating apps at society’s disposal, do people even use anymore?

Where was I?

Right, what else to focus on other than eccentric only pull-ups.

Do More

I think one of the biggest mistakes I see most people make with their pull-up/chin-up programming is that they simply don’t train the pattern enough.

Most people will train their pull-up once, maybe twice per week.

This isn’t enough.

Pull-up badass, Artemis Scantalides, will often advocate a frequency of 4-5x per week.

However, this approach only works well for those who can already perform 3-5 pull-ups and are looking to level up that number.

If you can’t even perform one this would be a daunting prospect to say the least.

That said, I think staying cognizant of total VOLUME is an often overlooked component of pull-up progress.

As in: A metric fuck ton (which is just a tad below a metric boat load) of pulling volume is undoubtedly going to result in some cool things happening.

I like to incorporate the following (hybrid) vertical pulling progressions when working with an individual working toward their first pull-up

1️⃣ Suspension Trainer Vertical Row Thingamabobber – Level 1

Trainee is allowed to use his or her’s feet to help push off the floor and to assist as much as needed.

2️⃣ Suspension Trainer Vertical Row Thingamabobber – Level 2


Legs straight (less help)

3️⃣ Suspension Trainer Vertical Row Thingamabobber – Level 3


Feet Elevated – more ROM.

4️⃣ BONUS: Rack Pull-Up


This is hands down one of my favorite accessory “pull-up builder” exercises (and upper back exercises in general).

I LOVE the lat stretch in the bottom position.

If someone is looking to conquer their first pull-up I’d be more inclined to include one of these exercises as part of EVERY training session aiming for 2-4 sets of 5-15 repetitions

  • The “easier” drills are assigned more sets and reps.
  • The “harder” drills are assigned less sets and reps.
  • Sick beats optional.

Ultimate Pull-Up Program & Ultimate Push-Up Program

All this week you can purchase Meghan Callaway’s Ultimate Pull-Up Program at 50% off the regular price. Meghan is one of the best coaches I know and this program is without hesitation THE “go-t0” program if you’re looking to take your pull-up game to the next level.

Moreover, you also have the option of purchasing both the Ultimate Pull-Up Program & the Ultimate Push-Up Program at a heavily discounted price.

You can check out that link HERE.

Nevertheless, given many people have lost access to their regular gyms due to COVID-19 and have been regulated to training mostly at home these two programs couldn’t come at a better time.

Act fast, the offer ends this week!

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.
  1. It won’t

Comments for This Entry

  • Trish DaCosta

    Solid music choice Tony, as always :) Article too, obvs

    October 27, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Megan

    As one of Tony's clients who can now do a pullup I will say that all of this is true and those exercises really do work!

    October 31, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Partha Banerjee

    Hey Tony, I think you've absolutely nailed it here. I've recently written about how to get a certain number of pull ups, e.g. 10, 20, 30, etc. by using a form of density training. The article was of course aimed at people who could already do at least a few pull ups already. I'm someone who's always been able to perform pull ups (don't hate me for it), but I felt I should include something for those who are still struggling with their first ever pull up. I scouted YouTube for a while, but pretty much everything was focused on negatives/eccentics, etc. I'm ashamed to say, I half-heartedly accepted what I found, and embedded a relevant video. Now just reading what you've written here, especially in terms of training the actual movement pattern, and on a regular and consistent basis - well, let's just say I've had a lightbulb moment. It's so obvious when you have the right, shirtless, avoiding, dude pointing you in the right direction. Suffice to say, if it's alright with you, I shall be embedding your YouTube videos and pointing those looking to achieve their first pull up in your direction. Love it Tony, great article. Partha

    November 1, 2020 at 8:32 am | Reply to this comment

  • S

    Or you know, just do deadlifts and doing a pull up will be an easy task, that's how it went with me

    November 4, 2020 at 8:31 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Marianne Kane

    Cool article. One of the things that bugs me about slow negatives is how much it burns people out. Why are we going slower and slower and calling that progress.... when strength is about rebound and power. IF I'd ever use a negative, let people use it to learn control OR let them load it and do a fast negative. But I rarely use it. I prefer building volume and intensity over time. So many things bug me about slow negative for pull-ups. LOL

    November 7, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Reply to this comment

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