Is there a single exercise more badass than the pull-up?
Sure you don’t end up hoisting a heavy bar overhead, but pull-ups take great strength and control.
And, unfortunately, most women are convinced they can’t do one.
I won’t lie and tell you that all you have to do is believe in yourself and you can go bust out 10 pull-ups.
The reality is that pull-ups are hard, for both men and women.
But with time and training, you can learn to do a pull up.
The 30 day pull up challenge will work you through a series of upper body exercises and a pull-up progression. And while working towards the ultimate goal of doing pull-ups, you’ll get benefits like sexy arms and a toned back.
The workouts are short but challenging, so get ready to work hard for big results!
So, are you ready to start the 30 day pull up challenge? Learn all about the exercises you’ll be doing and the complete routines you’ll be following for the next month! It’s time to start the best pull up workout for women.
Pull-Up Workouts for Women that Work
First up in the the 30 day pull up challenge — the bar hang. This one is as straightforward as it seems. But by hanging from a bar, you improve your grip strength, lat activation, and core stability – all essentials for doing a pull-up.
Jump up or use a step to reach a pull-up bar. Grip the bar with an overhand (pull-up) grip. Dead hang from the bar for the prescribed number of seconds. Keep your shoulders back and down and your chest out. You should feel a stretch in your lats.
Negatives are where you learn to do a pull up and where you develop the strength for a pull up workout. A “negative” is another name for the eccentric, or lowering, portion of a pull-up. It takes out the hardest part of a regular pull-up: coming out of the dead hang at the bottom. It’s a good way to strengthen your lats until you’re strong enough to do a pull-up from a dead hang.
Use a step or jump up to the top position of a pull-up (use an underhand grip when the program calls for chin-up negatives). Slowly lower yourself until you’re in a dead hang. Try to take 6-10 seconds to lower yourself down – don’t just drop quickly. That’s one rep. Get back up to the top position and repeat for the assigned number of reps.
Because chin-ups use the biceps as well as the back, unlike pull-ups which rely solely on the back, you should find that you’re able to perform them sooner than an pull-ups. Even though they may be easier, they’re still a crucial component for the most effective and best pull up workout.
Grab the bar with a shoulder-width underhand grip. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull your chest up to the bar. After your chest taps the bar, return back down to a dead hang and repeat the assigned reps.
The 30 day pull up challenge would not complete without pull ups. This is the move you’ve been dreaming of. It may take some time to get here but once you do, it’ll be worth all the work you put in.
Grab the bar with an overhand grip. Your hands will be just past shoulder width apart. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull your chest towards the bar. Lower back down to a dead hang and repeat the assigned reps.
Wide-Grip Lat Pull-Downs
Lat pull-downs will help you build stronger lats. Do your pull-downs slowly and with control and you’ll begin to learn what it feels like when your lats are working.
Sit down at a lat pull-down station and grab the bar with a wide overhand grip. Your arms will be straight and your torso will be upright. With control, slowly pull the bar down until it touches your chest. Your torso should not move! Feel your shoulder blades squeeze together and your lats activate. Pause with the bar on your chest and then slowly return to the starting position.
Half Kneeling Single-Arm Lat Pull-Downs
This variation adds a couple of important challenges. The half kneeling position makes your core more engaged (as it will be during a pull-up). By doing them with one arm at a time, you can really focus on initiating the pull with your lats – especially the upper part of the muscle near your armpit.
Attach a stirrup attachment to a cable station. Kneel down on your left knee with your right knee bent 90 degrees. Grab the attachment with your left hand and pull down towards your chest/armpit. Repeat all reps on your left side before switching your kneeling position and then pulling with your right hand. Make sure to focus on your lats doing the work, it’s very easy to engage your triceps if you don’t pay attention to the movement.
This bodyweight row is a challenging upper back strengthening exercise. It’s great prep for pull-ups and a safer alternative to barbell rows. You can do this exercise in a squat rack, with TRX bands or use a Smith Machine.
Set a sturdy bar up at about hip or waist height (when standing). Take a wide, overhand grip of the bar with both hands and position your body so that you’re hanging underneath the bar with straight arms. Bend your elbows and pull yourself up towards the bar. Pause at the top and then lower back down to the starting position.
Rear Lateral Raises
Rear lateral raises are amazing for developing sculpted shoulders, but they also work your upper and mid back muscles. You’ll feel your shoulder blades retract with each rep – remember that feeling when you’re doing your pull-ups! Use light weights here as this is simply an accessory lift during the 30-day pull-up challenge.
Grab a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip. Hinge at the hips, slightly bend your knees, and let the weights hang down at arm’s length. Your gaze will be down at the floor throughout the lift. Without moving your torso, bring your arms straight out to your sides until they form a T-shape with your body. Lower the weights to the starting position and complete all reps.
About Toning Your Lats and Sculpting the Perfect Upper-Body
Your lats (latissimus dorsi) are the primary muscles working during a pull-up. Lats are the largest muscles of the back, so keeping them strong is important.
But pull-ups work your entire upper body, not just your lats. You’ll be strengthening your shoulders, upper back, mid back, arms, and core with each pull-up you do.
The other exercises included in the 30 day pull up challenge will also help you sculpt a sexy upper body. Rows and chin-ups shape your biceps while lateral raises build strong shoulders.
A strong, healthy back is essential for good posture. By doing all of the exercises in the 4-week challenge, you’ll have a balanced upper body that will help you stand taller and look slimmer.
Rowing and pulling are both important for injury prevention as well. Most of us have relatively strong chests and weak backs due to the modern lifestyle. By strengthening your upper back, you greatly reduce the risk of shoulder injuries and neck pain.
If you’re a yoga goddess who can chaturanga all day long but can’t do a single chin-up, this challenge would be a great supplement to your yoga routine.
Chin-Ups vs Pull-Ups
People often wonder about the difference between chin-ups and pull-ups. The only difference is the grip.
For chin-ups, you use an underhand grip on the bar – your palms are facing you.
For pull-ups, you’ll take an overhand grip – your palms will be facing away from you. The pull-up grip is naturally slightly wider than the chin-up grip as well.
Chin-ups are typically slightly easier because your biceps will assist in the lift. For pull-ups, you’re relying much more on your lats.
Both are amazing upper-body builders that are an important part of any strength training routine.