My CrossFit Coach Said If You Want to Get Good at Pull-Ups, This Is the 1 Exercise You Need

When I started CrossFit over three years ago, I had one major goal in mind: do one pull-up. I was psyched when I got my first one in my first year, but sadly, I haven't been able to progress to rocking out more than one rep — even that one pull-up is still a struggle! I recently started taking an adult gymnastics class, and both my gymnastics coach and my CrossFit coach agreed that if I want to get good at pull-ups, I need to do pull-up holds.

These isometric holds are so hard! But they're what I need to practice in order to strengthen the muscles necessary for pull-ups. Admittedly, I rarely work on pull-ups (which is why I can't do them!) and always modify by doing ring rows in workouts. But I'm ready to get serious about making time for them at home.

How to Do a Pull-Up Hold

  • Place both hands on a pull-up bar with your palms facing away from you. Stand on a box or thick mat if you need help reaching the bar. You can also do this with a large resistance band around the bar (like you'd use if you were doing assisted pull-ups), placing your foot in the bottom of the band.
  • Jump up so your chin is above the bar. Keep your core tight, and focus on engaging your back muscles, keeping your shoulders pressed down away from your ears.
  • Hold like this as long as you can, working your way up to 20 seconds.
  • This counts as one rep.

A couple times a week, complete five reps with a minute rest between each rep, and you'll get stronger, eventually building up to your first pull-up! Looking for more moves to help you master a pull-up? Check out these 16 exercises.