It’s great to see the shift in the way women are seeing and thinking about pull-ups. The myth that pull-ups are for men and that women can’t do them has been kept alive for far too long. As 1 of 10 women to successfully complete the Iron Maiden Challenge, women often ask me for help as they work toward their first pull-up, doing more bodyweight pull-ups, or advancing to weighted pull-ups.
For the curious among you, The Iron Maiden (or Beast Tamer for men) is a challenge attempted at the StrongFirst Kettlebell Certification consisting of three events. One of those three events is the Tactical Pull-Up (thumbless grip) with the bell hanging from your waist via a belt and chain. Women must use a 24kg (53lb) bell, and men must use a 48kg (106lb) bell. The challenge takes a great deal of focus, patience, and smart programming.
To achieve this type of strength, it’s important to follow a program that has been tested and has produced positive results. Rushing this process often leads to injury or burn out.
Working on pull-ups needs to be approached with the mindset that this process will be a marathon, not a sprint—especially once you start adding load to your pull-ups.
A word of caution: You must listen to your body whether you’re working toward your first pull-up or advancing from bodyweight to weighted pull-ups. You have to pay attention to any signs that your body is being over-trained. If you begin to feel discomfort or pain in your elbow or shoulder, don’t ignore it.
If you’re ready to start your pull-up journey, I guarantee these three key exercises will get you stronger and improve your Pull-ups.
NOTE:Read the details for each drill first, and then watch the video at the bottom of the article.
The key word is heavy! The goal here is to increase your deadlift MAX to 1.5 – 2x your bodyweight. Think about this for a second, you are struggling to get your body over the bar. so what better way to make it easier than to start lifting a far heavier weight than that.
What’s needed: Barbell, Plates (bumper or iron), chalk (possibly) and, of course, proper technique
How to Perform Deadlifts
TIP: You should be lifting with a neutral spine. Do not allow your back to round on the way up or when returning the bar to the ground.
The Hollow position will get your incredibly strong if practiced often. You would start practicing the hollow holds on the ground, then progress to hollow rockers and advance to hollow hangs, with both, straight arm and flexed arm.
What’s needed: Floor space, Pull-up Bar, (and a sofa or partner)
How to Perform the Hollow Position Drills:
Straight-Arm Hollow Hangs
Flexed-Arm Hollow Hangs
Yes, weighted. Many people look at me like I’m crazy and say, “I can’t get a bodyweight pull-up, and now you want me to add weight?” YES! Adding weight to your body is a great progression to gain strength and make you feel lighter when you are trying to get your body over the bar. Weighted hangs are also great for lighter training days if you are already doing weighted pull-ups.
What’s needed: Pull-up Bar, Weight (weighted vest, or kettlebell, and eventually a weight belt)
How to Perform Weighted Hangs
Heavy deadlift can be added to your training program 1 – 2 days per week, while the Hollow Drills and Weighted Hangs can be done daily. As I mention above, listen to your body! At the first sign of pain in either your elbows or shoulders you need to STOP, rest for a few days, and then proceed.
After spending 4-6 weeks on the above drills, test and see if you have your first chin-up or pull-up. If you were already doing pull-ups, test your max set or add weight to your pull-ups.
If you found this article helpful and want more guidance with your training program to get strong, we can help!
FREE Course – 5 SECRETS TO GET MORE RESULTS IN LESS TIME
Learn the most effective strategies for getting the exact results you want — without spending your life in the gym.
Our Girls Gone Strong Formula has helped thousands of women from all around the world get the results they’re looking for.