5 Pull Up Variations for Beginners to Try

This article shows you 5 pull up variations for beginners.

Why? Because there is no shame in not being able to do pull ups. Many people have trouble doing even one pull up.

By doing these variations you will eventually build up the strength you need to do standard pulls.

Related Articles

Before we get into the pull up variations for beginners, here are some articles that may also interest you.
You can read my review of the best power towers here.

Here’s how to do the perfect pull up.

Don’t miss the article on why you should do pull ups every workout.

I’ve also written an article describing a power tower workout using HIIT methods.

1. Inverted Row or Bodyweight Row

For inverted rows you need a bar about 2 or 3 feet off the ground or floor.

Lie on the floor face up with the bar over your chest. Grab the bar with both hands and pull your chest up to bar.

Be sure to keep your body straight, your core rigid, and your heels on the floor.

Inverted rows work the same muscles as a standard pull up.

This may seem counter intuitive, but the higher the bar is, the easier it is to do inverted rows. Therefore, if you struggle with this exercise, try raising the bar.

TRX suspension trainers

You can also do inverted rows with suspension trainers or rings.

2. Pull Up Bar Hang

This exercise will increase your grip strength.

Jump up and grab the pull up bar. If you can’t jump that high, then stand on a bench so that you can reach the bar.

Hang from the bar with your arms extended. Hold this position for 3 – 10 seconds.


3. Assisted or Band Pull Up

In this pull up variation you will use a resistance band to help lift your body.

resistance bands

Loop a heavy resistance band over the pull up bar.

Then either stand in the band with one foot or place one knee in the loop.

Grab the pull up bar and pull yourself up.

Resistance bands come in various sizes. The heavier the band the more of your body weight it will take.

You can start with a heavy band. As you gain strength and confidence, then try using lighter bands.

4. Negative Pull Up

Stand under the bar. Jump up and grab the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart. At the same time pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar. This is the starting position.

If jumping up is too hard for you, start by standing on a bench or a box.

You can also have a friend spot you and help you get your chin above the bar.

From the starting position, slowly lower yourself. Keep your core tight.

Use your arms to slowly lower yourself down. Don’t let gravity do all of the work. It should take you 3 – 5 seconds to lower yourself.

Once your arms are fully extended, let go of the bar and prepare for the next repetition.

5. Static Hold or Hanging Pull Up

This pull up variation is similar to the negative pull up.

As with the negative pull up, get yourself into the top position of a standard pull up.

Now hold that top position as long as you can.

After you’ve held the top position, then slowly lower yourself down to the floor as with the Negative Pull Up.



pull up variations for beginners
If you struggle to do pull ups, then try these 5 pull up variations for beginners.

When you search around the internet, you’ll find many fitness pros recommending these and similar variations.

There is general agreement that these exercises will help you eventually be able to do standard pull ups. On the other hand, there is little agreement as to what is the best order to try the variations.

I’ve presented one progression. That doesn’t mean it’s the best approach for you. In fact, you may not need all of these steps to reach the fitness level you want.

Pull ups are a difficult exercise. However, if you apply yourself, soon you’ll be able to do 10 or more pull ups in a row.

Shlomo Skinner

I'm the one who writes most of the posts here at Fitnessator. I'm a former US Marine trying to stay in shape. I enjoy using different fitness equipment as well as body weight exercises and eating lots of healthy greens.