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Pull-up progression template for CrossFit


There is a chasm in the the breadth of CrossFit programs out there where a coherent methodology for progressing
individuals to the point of being highly capable with kipping and butterfly pull-ups in CrossFit workouts has not
been addressed. Included in this rift is also handstand push ups, ring dips, and muscle ups which you can see
below:
Pull-up progression template for CrossFit (you are here)
Ring dip progression template for CrossFit
Handstand push up progression template for CrossFit
Muscle Up progression template for CrossFit (Full Course)
Putting it all together template (Full Course)
HD Movement library with all movements (Full Course)
This article will address this deficiency by outlining a structured framework that can be done in addition to an
athletes current CrossFit programming to bring them to a point where pull-ups are not a limiting factor in
performing a workout as prescribed and/or improve capacity for high volume pull-up CrossFit workouts. This
article is set up so that coaches can email this article to their clients/members so they can work on their pull up
development on their own. The future muscle up and handstand push up articles will be structured similarly to this
one.
Given that there is a significant range in pull-up ability I will be making a few assumptions so that this information
is targeted at the right people.
Assumption 1: There are no orthopedic issues that are inhibit range of motion for the movements outlined
below.
Assumption 2: That this is done in conjunction with a CrossFit program.
Assumption 3: Exercise selection will be limited by equipment found at most CrossFit gyms. If most CF
gyms had a Graviton Machine there would be heavy use of that during Phase 1 and 2.
A couple notes:
The shoulder joint is more susceptible to injury when its structures arent adequately developed. For this
reason, I highly recommend NOT attempting any sort of kipping prior to being able to do one strict pull-up.
Also, be sure to mobilize/stretch as needed for your shoulders.
Getting better at pull-ups, push-ups, muscle-ups, dips, and handstand pushups is about volume. In any
phase feel free to add in more pull-ups to progress faster.
Buy a pumice stone and scrub your hands in the shower 2-3 times a week. This will help prevent skin tears
on your hand.
The following progressions are more of a rough template for developing the pull-up. The most important
part of this setup is the idea of following a progression instead developing pull-up capacity by sporadicly
working on it. There
Warm ups are simply before your scheduled training or class and cool downs are after scheduled training
or class.
A high BMI will increase the time it takes to advance through the phases.
Do not rush trying to get to the next phase. Only move on once you can complete that phases goal with
confidence and consistency.

EMOM = Every Minute On the Minute


If you end up following this id love to hear about how it worked out for you in the comments.

Phase 1
Current ability: 0 strict pull-ups
Goal: 1 strict pull-up with. No kip. Move to phase 2 once you can do 1 strict pull-up relatively easy .
Objective: Strengthening for structures involved in the pull-up. This will primarily be the latissimus dorsi, biceps,
rhomboids, and the varios muscles in the shoulder.
How to: Do 3-4 workouts a week rotating in order. Move to phase 2 once you can do 3 strict pull-ups in a minute.
Phase 1 weekly template
When

Day 1
Volume

Day 2
Assistance

Day 3
Intensity

Warm
Up

3 sets 8-12 banded pull-ups. If you go over 12 move to 55 Self-assisted


a band with less resistance. If banded pull-ups are too pull-ups. Scroll
difficult you can do self-assisted pull-ups until you are
down for information
capable to progressing to the band
about the
progressions.

53-5 banded pull-up.


If you can go over 5
reps scale up to a more
difficult progression.

Warm
Up

3 sets of a max hang


from a pull bar with 1
minute rest.

Cool
Down

Accumulate 25 ring rows. Move up 3-5 reps a week


until you move to phase 2. If you can string together
more than 10 in row make the movement more difficult
by being more parallel with the floor.

38-12 curls with


barbell

55 Self-assisted pullups.

Cool
Down

Accumulate 25 banded face-pulls. Move up 3-5 reps a


week until you move to phase 2.

The self-assisted pull-ups be done in a squat rack. Check out this link for a visual. During phase 1 this will be
used to supplement band pull-ups. We need to supplement band pull-ups because strength curve does not mimic
an actual pull-up very well because the assistance goes from most to least during the upward range of motion.
Here are a few modifications you can use to adjust difficulty.
1. Stay on toes only.
2. Put feet on a box or bench in front of you.
3. Use only one leg.
Whichever modification you are using the most important thing to focus on pulling with your back and using your
legs as little as possible. Also, be sure to start with your elbows extended all the way at the bottom and get your
chin over the bar with out reaching with your neck.

Phase 2
Current ability: 1 strict pull-up any day of the week.
Goal: 5 strict pull-ups in a row with. No kip.
Objectives: Every week do more pull-ups than the last. Develop good technique for kipping. Become stronger in

hollow rock position.


How to: Do 3-4 workouts a week. Rest day from pull-ups before day 2 and 4.
Phase 2 weekly template
When

Day 1

Day 2

Volume

Volume

Day 3
Assistance

Day 4
Intensity

Warm
Up

EMOM 1-3 strict pull-ups for 5 Min. Tabata


Every week either try to get more
kipping pull
consecutive pull ups or add a
ups. Try to
minute. Do not go over 10 minutes get more
reps each
week

Work on kipping As many strict pull ups as


pull up
possible in 4 mnutes. Add 1
technique
minute a week.

Cool
Down

Kipping pull-up practice

Barbell curls
310-12. You
can do your
hollow rocks
between sets.

Cool
Down

Accumulate 20 hollow rocks. Add


5/week until you go to phase 3. Do
a max set of strict pull ups before
and after hollow rocks

Accumulate
40 banded
face pulls

31 pull ups with 3-4 second


negative on the way down. Go
up 1 rep a week. Focus
intently on lowering very
slowly.

Accumulate 20
hollow rocks.
Add 5/week until
you go to phase
3

Phase 3
Current ability: Set of 5 strict pull-ups any day of the week
Goal: Men 10 strict and 20 kipping. Women 7 strict and 15 kipping. Both men/women able to string together a few
butterfly pull-ups. Move to Phase 4 once you hit this goal .
Objectives: Develop the stamina for higher rep sets.
How to: Do 2-4 workouts a week. Rest day from pull-ups before day 2 and 4.
Phase 3 weekly template
When

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Volume

Volume

Assistance

Intensity

Warm
Up

EMOM 1-3 strict pull-ups for 5 Min. Every week


either try to get more consecutive pull-ups or add
a minute. Do not go over 10 minutes

3 sets of max
rep kipping or
butterfly pull-ups
with 3 minutes
rest

4 sets max
strict pull ups.
Rest 3
minutes
between sets.

As many
kipping/butterfly
pull-ups as
possible in 5
minutes.

Cool
Down

20 kipping/butterfly pull-ups as fast as possible


Butterfly pull-up
and in the least amount of sets. Go up 5/week but practice
do not exceed 50. If you hit 50 while still in phase
3 try to beat time each week.

Butterfly pullup practice

Butterfly pullup practice

Phase 4
Current ability: Men 10 strict and 20 kipping. Women 7 strict and 15 kipping. Both men/women able to string
together a few butterfly pull-ups.

Goal: Men 40 butterfly pull-ups. Women 30 butterfly pull-ups. Move to Phase 5 once you hit this goal .
Objectives: Build pull-up capacity
How to: Do 2-3 workouts a week.
Phase 4
When

Warm
Up

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Volume

Assistance

Capacity

EMOM for 4 minutes. 20 seconds of unbroken


kipping/butterfly pull-ups. If you are proficient at butterfly
by this time you are shooting for 18-22 reps for the first set.
If you drop off the bar in the 20 second period do not jump
up till the next minute. Go up 1 minute a week until you get
to 6 minutes.

35 weighted strict pull-up.


Rest 3 minutes between
sets. Go up 2.5 or 5lb a
week. If you cannot add
weight go up on weight
ever 2-3 weeks.

60 pull-ups
as fast as
possible. Go
up 10 a
week until
you get to
100.

Cool
Down

Butterfly pull-up practice if


you still need to work on it

Phase 5
Current ability: Men 40 butterfly pull-ups. Women 30 butterfly pull-ups.
Goal: Men 100 pull-ups in under 4:00 and women under 5:00
Objectives: Capacity
How to: Do 2-3 workouts a week. Once you complete cycle 1 go to cycle 2 and then back again.
Phase 5 - Cycle 1
When

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Warm
Up or
Cool
Down

Tabata
kipping/butterfly
chest to bar
pull-ups

55 weighted strict pull-up. Rest 3 minutes


between sets. Go up 2.5 or 5lb a week. If
you cannot add weight go up on weight
ever 2-3 weeks.

5 sets of pull ups. Do not go over 20


pull ups a set. The goal is to hit 20 reps
in a row for 5 sets. 60 seconds rest
between sets.

Phase 5 - Cycle 2
When

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Warm Up
or Cool
Down

Tabata
kipping/butterfly
pull-ups

55 weighted strict pull-up. Rest 3 minutes between sets. Go


up 2.5 or 5lb a week. If you cannot add weight go up on weight
ever 2-3 weeks.

100
kipping/butterfly
pull-ups for
time.

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