How To Become A BEAST At Pull-Ups

Dead-Hang Pull-up IM_No Text

Believe it or not there was a time in my life when I did not train pull-ups, when I did not even know that I could do a pull-up, and when I did finally do a pull-up, (which was a neutral grip pull-up, not overhand grip) I was training sets of 1-2 repetitions per set.

Now I regularly train sets of 8-10 repetitions, sometimes even 12 per set,

My max set of bodyweight pull-ups, since the last time I tested it in January 2015 is 16 overhand grip pull-ups,

I can do a 24kg (53lbs) pull-up on call, any day, anytime,

and my heaviest weighted prone grip pull-up as of the last time I tested it in August 2015 is 30kg (66lbs),

and neutral grip as of July 2016 is 32kg (70lbs),

I even dabble in different bodyweight variations of the pull-up such as L-Sit pull-ups,

and alternating grip, explosive pull-ups,

I love to play around with and test my strength in all variations of the pull-up.

Not only have I trained myself to be a master of the pull-up, but I have helped many clients to achieve their goal of their first bodyweight pull-up and beyond, and even complete a 24kg (53lbs) pull-up. Below is a montage of some of my female clients showing us that women CAN indeed do pull-ups.

This video is from February 2013, and all of the women in the video have increased their pull-up strength since then, and yes the Lisa in this video is Tony Gentilcore’s wife Lisa Lewis crushing pull-ups.  I cannot take credit for Lisa’s pull-ups, she is a pull-up badass all on her own 🙂 .

Even though pull-ups are one of my strengths, I did not pop out of my mother’s womb with the ability to train multiple sets of 8 to 10 pull-ups. I trained for it. I started with one pull-up and worked up to 3 and then 5 and then so forth.  And then I got crazy and started to load my pull-ups!

I wish I could say that I remember doing pull-ups in gym class in elementary school when I was a child, but I don’t. My clearest memory is from 2008 when I completed a neutral grip pull-up for the first time. That was not that long ago, now was it? I was training for my black belt in kung fu and I was training with my personal trainer at the time. He had programmed in pull-ups for me that day. My thought process was, “I can’t recall ever doing a pull-up, but if he thinks I’m strong enough to do one, then I must be able to do one, so we shall see.”

Notice that my thought process was NOT, “I can’t do a pull-up.” Or “I don’t think I can do this because I’ve never done it before.”

It was, “Let’s see what I’ve got.”

Mindset is extremely important when it comes to a strength lift like pull-ups.

You have to have confidence that you CAN DO a pull-up, and to not be afraid of getting up over the bar. You have to Attack The Bar.

My trainer, Isaac, picked me up to reach the bar and sure enough I completed my first neutral grip pull-up. It was very exciting and it motivated me to want to do more, to want to train to be able to do more.

From there, I trained pull-ups almost every time I trained, (as in addition to mindset, consistency is also a key factor in order to build pull-up strength), both neutral and overhand grip, (once I was able), and my strength grew.

I started in 2008 with sets of 1 pull-up.

In 2009 this grew to sets of 3 pull-ups.

In 2011 this grew to sets of 6 pull-ups AND that year I started to train weighted pull-ups with 10 and 15 pounds.

Then in May 2012 I discovered that I could complete 8 bodyweight pull-ups, AFTER training weighted pull-ups and my max weighted pull-up increased to 16kg.

Then in November 2012 I discovered that my max set of bodyweight pull-ups was 12 pull-ups,

Which then increased to 14 pull-ups in August 2013,


Now, as I mentioned previously, my max set of pull-ups is 16 pull-ups.

Based upon the program that I wrote for myself and followed, I averaged about a 2 pull-up increase per year, and a 15% increase in strength for my max weighted pull-up every 6-8 months.

Building this strength did not happen overnight. It took making pull-ups a priority in my training, proper programming, a proper balance of bodyweight pull-ups and weighted pull-up volume (once I was training both), regularly training accessory core movements that are specifically related to building core strength for pull-ups such as the ab rollout and the hanging leg raise, consistent training, dedication, and a confident, positive, CAN-DO” mindset.

Often when I help a female client train to be able to do her first pull-up, she will approach the bar with fear and trepidation; fear that society and the media has instilled in her from constantly drilling home that women lack the strength and ability to do pull-ups. Very rarely do I have a female client who wants to do a pull-up walk up to the bar, and attack her first pull-up, assisted or not. A huge part of helping a woman to be able to do a pull-up is to instill the confidence that she can indeed do this and to attack the flippin’ bar!  ATTACK IT! That’s what I tell women.  “What are you afraid of, attack the bar!  Attack that pull-up!” 

I do not see this hesitation as much, if ever in men, mostly in women. This does not mean that pull-ups aren’t hard for men as well, they can be, however, I see my female clients want to shy away from the bar far more often then my male clients. That is until they get a taste of victory from their first assisted or unassisted pull-up!

Often people ask me, “Artemis, what do you think about when you go to do a pull-up, particularly a weighed pull-up?”

My response, “I look at the bar and I think, I am going to attack that m*therf*ckin’ bar! THAT’s what I think about.”

And it works.

Do you want to learn how to be a master at the pull-up?

Do you want a pull-up program that will help you to build strength, skill, speed, explosiveness, and positive mindset for the strongest pull-ups of your life?

Then I hope that you will sign up for my “Attack The Bar” pull-up program on You will not be disappointed.

For President’s Day, I am offering 20% off the “Attack The Bar” pull-up program, any and all levels, through 11:59 p.m. pacific time on February 20, 2017. Use the code pullup20 to receive 20% off your purchase, ONLY valid on the “Attack The Bar” pull-up program, Levels I-III.

There are three levels available:

Attack The Bar Pull-up Program Level I

Level I is a beginner 12-week pull-up program appropriate for people who are not able to do an unassisted bodyweight pull-up yet (with any grip). The program teaches essential hanging, core movements, and band assisted pull-ups to help build strength for an un-assisted pull-up. Completion of the program will have you well on your way to complete at least one unassisted bodyweight pull-up (with any grip).

Purchase HERE 

Use the code pullup20 to receive 20% off your purchase through 11:59 p.m. pacific time on February 20, 2017.

Attack The Bar Pull-up Program Level II

This is an intermediate 12-week pull-up program appropriate for people who are able to complete 1-3 unassisted overhand grip bodyweight pull-ups and 2-3 unassisted underhand grip or neutral grip bodyweight pull-ups. The program builds unassisted pull-up strength and volume and incorporates essential core movements for building strength and volume for unassisted pull-ups. During the last month of the program, you will have built enough strength to train a combination of both unassisted bodyweight pull-ups and weighted pull-ups.

Purchase HERE

Use the code pullup20 to receive 20% off your purchase through 11:59 p.m. pacific time on February 20, 2017.

Attack The Bar Pull-up Program Level III

This is an advanced 12-week pull-up program appropriate for people who are able to complete 5 unassisted overhand grip bodyweight pull-ups, 5 unassisted underhand grip or neutral grip bodyweight pull-ups, and must also be able to regularly complete sets of 4, 3, 3 weighted pull-ups with 10lbs. The program builds both unassisted and weighted pull-up strength and incorporates essential core movements for building strength for unassisted and weighted pull-ups. As a result of increased unassisted and weighted pull-up strength, you will also increase your max set of unassisted bodyweight pull-ups. If you follow the first 6-weeks of the program as prescribed, then during the last 6 weeks of the program, you will experience up to a 10% increase in strength in terms of your max weighted pull-up as early as week 7 of the program.

Purchase HERE

Use the code pullup20 to receive 20% off your purchase through 11:59 p.m. pacific time on February 20, 2017.

Along with this program you receive personal online coaching from me via my private online training Facebook group.

Join me for this three 3-level pull-up program, and you WILL learn how to Attack The Bar!

And don’t forget, my “Kettlebell Crusher” program is available for purchase for a limited time only through February 18, 2017 (only 3 days left to purchase!). The “Kettlebell Crusher” program also includes daily pull-up training along with accessory core exercises that will help you to build a strong core necessary for a strong pull-up.

Details below… Purchase the program HERE or sign up for group or individual online training HERE.


My very own “Kettlebell Crusher” online training program is now available for purchase on for a LIMITED time ONLY through this Saturday February 18, 2017.

After February 18, 2017, my “Kettlebell Crusher” online training program will be available ONLY to Iron Body Training Systems premium online training group members via their monthly online training subscription on

The Kettlebell Crusher program is an 8-week program that includes four 60-minute workouts per week – that’s a total of 32 workouts!

The program is appropriate for intermediate to expert level kettlebell training enthusiasts and coaches.

Weekly Workouts Include:

  • Interactive online support via a private Facebook group;
  • A mobility warm-up that incorporates the Original Strength System, *CARs (Controlled Articular Rotations), and general mobility drills;
  • Turkish get-up practice;
  • Programming to increase pull-up and press strength;
  • Single and double kettlebell work including complexes and chains (with the option to train single bell if you are not ready for double bell work yet);
  • Daily kettlebell swing or snatch metabolic finisher.
  • …and much more!

This program will turn you into a strong and lean kettlebell crushing machine!

Purchase the program HERE.

After you purchase the program I will add you to my private online training Facebook group for support.

I look forward to training with you!


*CARs: The Functional Range Conditioning definition according to  Dr. Andreo Spina is Active, rotational movements at the outer limits of articular motion.

2 Comments on “How To Become A BEAST At Pull-Ups

  1. Love this post!

    Something that often makes me chuckle is that I’ve known women who have seen an article about getting better at pull-ups, but won’t follow it, because it was written by a guy.

    And I’ve also known guys who have seen a similar article, but written by a woman and they’ve thought, huh that doesn’t relate to me, I’m a man!

    I’m like, how does that matter? If you’ve got two arms, you can be taught how to get better at pull-ups, regardless of the gender of the person teaching you!

  2. I agree with you! A pull-up is a pull-up regardless of gender. The only difference that I have seen is with women post partum. They need to work a little harder to rebuild their core strength after having that tissue separated for 9 months. Also, based upon my experience, some women respond well to more volume, depending on their height/size. Other than that, training for a pull-up is the same whether you are a man or a women. Build that upper body and core strength, have a strong positive mindset (Attack The Bar!), and be consistent.

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