I am really hyped to share the second part of my calisthenics program with you guys! This session is focussed on pull movements.
If you are looking for the other parts you can find the PUSH session right here, LEGS over here and the two UPPER and LOWER BODY here. Alternatively, you can get all of this put together in a comprehensible ebook, plus a few boni, when signing up for my newsletter.
OK – now that I advertised my stuff and you have all the links at your disposal let’s get into the session!1
Calisthenics Beginner Program: PULL
You can download the full routine on one sheet over here:
You can find the detailed upper body warmup over here! It should take around 15 minutes.
First off, it consists of some cardio to get your heart pumping. After that, you prepare your wrists and shoulders for the oncoming load.
OK now that we are ready – let’s get into the more challenging part of this calisthenics pull session.
Choose the appropriate progression for you. You find the different levels one chapter down below.
- Pullups (3-5 sets x 5 reps)
- Chinups (3-5 sets x 5 reps)
- Rows (3-5 sets x 5 reps)
Go hard on these exercises and try to really get them down.
- Dead Hang/Active Hang (3 sets x 8 reps)
- Bodyweight Curls (3 sets x 8 reps)
- Arch Hold (3 sets x 30-60s)
This part should take around 10 minutes. Try to breathe calmly and get some feel-good mobility done.
The goal should be to wind down.
- Wrists (1x the routine):
Do this routine for 1 round. It is the same routine you did in your warmup.
- Shoulder CAR’s (1x8r):
Circle your shoulders slowly and with control through their entire range of motion aka CARs.
- Cat/Cow Stretch (1x10r):
Yes exactly – this yogi stuff. It is a great feel-good exercise for your spine.
- Cobra Pose (1×30-60s):
It is this pose right here. I bet you’ve encountered it beforehand, too. This is also a really awesome movement.
- Breathing (1x60s):
Breathe deep into your stomach
Progressions for all pull exercises
If you’ve never heard of progressions before – you can read everything about them over here.
Upload that knowledge right into your prefrontal cortex, and we are good to go! 😉
Test every progression – you should feel which one is appropriate for you. Work yourself up from easiest to the hardest progressions.
The most important takeaway point here is to be brutally honest with yourself. Working on a hard progression because your ego compels you to will hinder your progress in the long run.
- Resistance band Pullups
- Negative Pullups
In the beginning, use a fairly thick band*. This will let you focus on proper technique.
When feeling secure and stronger reduce the band thickness.
If you are training in a gym owning a pullup machine you can use it, too. I learned my first pullup aided by it.
It takes likewise bands a set number of your bodyweight out of the pullup equiation.
Later on, negatives are a great exercise to bridge the gap between banded pullups and full ones.
Therefore, jump up into the top position and lower as slowly down as possible trying to resist gravity.
Have a look at my pullup guide, to further learn about this exercise.
- Resistance Band Chinups
- Negative Chinups
Chinups are pullups twin brothers – they are the same in many points. What separates them from another is the different position of your hands.
Because of the different grip, your biceps does more of the work. That is why most people will find chinups easier than pullups.
Nonetheless, both exercises greatly complement each other and build brute pulling strength. Start with banded reps*, utilize negatives afterward, or combined with them, and soon you will find yourself repping out full chinups! 😉
- Rows (Bar/Ringe/TRX)
- One-Arm Rows
I bet everyone seen this one before.
To perform them use a low bar or parallel bars. The more inclined your upper body is the easier the exercise will be and vice versa. Go slow and really feel your midback working hard!
If you’ve got access to TRX bands or gymnastic rings you can also use them instead.
The benefit of them is that you can externally rotate your shoulders while pulling. This way you get more out of the same exercise just by using rings! Win-win.
Have a look at this video by Tom Merrick for more information.
Dead Hang/Active Hang
Although this exercise seems fairly easy, the exact execution can be tricky. At first, scapular movements are hard to control for many people, but sooner or later this will get second nature.
- Grip a bar* and start in a dead hang.
- From there you pull your shoulder blades down.
- Hold this position for 2s and lower down slowly.
The goal of this movement is to control and strengthen this movement. 2 Besides this control, it is also a great way to build some serious gripping strength.
If you feel really well try them out with one arm or switching from one to two arms for a few reps.
Likewise, the rows your body position determines the difficulty. The more inclined your body is the easier the exercise is.3
- Otherwise – this exercise is pretty easy.
- Position yourself as you would like to row, but with your palms facing you.
- Now perform a biceps curl and pull your face towards the bar.
Check this video by FitnessFAQs out for more details.
This is the hollow body’s counterpart if you will.
It trains your posterior chain and helped me a lot to solve back pain.:
- To perform one rep lie flat onto your belly.
- Now start with squeezing your glutes and pull your legs as well as your upper body upwards.
- To make this exercise harder extend your arms overhead.
Either perform this exercise for a set amount of time or reps. I would generally try to hold them for time. But spice it up from time to time doing some sets of 10r.
This video by Breazeal Gymnastic shows how they are done properly.
Cues for this pull session
Hollow Body all day, every day!
Likewise, the previous session…
Stay in this position if possible. Try to stay stable and get it down early.
I promise you in the leg’s session to not use the word hollow body even once! 😉
Grip the whole bar
Grip it entirely.
Don’t use the gorilla grip (without your thumb) or such stupid things.
The bar should be on your first row of knuckles. Watch out to not let it slip onto your first digital joint – this can lead to overuse injuries quickly.4
Many of us don’t know how to properly use the muscles in your midback. Me included when starting out 😀
While in the beginning this process might seem unending I am sure you will get it down quickly! Learning how all of these small muscles work is the first step towards many advanced moves.
- In what insane world would be people offering free stuff without advertising some *** beforehand?
- Scapular elevation to depression.
- Many calisthenics exercises function like this – push as well as push exercises. The lever’s make for the difficulty
- That way most of the work of keeping your fist is done by the small finger muscles and not the stronger forearm muscles. Do this often enough and the small finger tendons will hurt.