Go from 0 to 10 Pull-Ups FAST: The Science-Backed Shortcuts

Dedicated lifters consistently accomplish new goals in the gym, lifting heavier weights or doing more sets and reps in each workout. However, outside of a few personal records (PRs), most people will not remember most of their gym lifts. The exception? Their first pull-up. 

I vividly remember my first pull-up as if it were just yesterday. I had been doing partner-assisted and jumping pull-ups for several weeks before it happened — my first unassisted bodyweight pull-up.

A lot has changed since then. I’ve helped several people get their first full range of motion (ROM) pull-up and then some more. Over the years, I’ve learned how to speed up your pull-up progress and get your first pull-up within a couple of weeks.

Pull-ups are not just an exercise. They are the barometer of upper body power and functional fitness. As a veteran personal trainer who spends most of his day in the gym, I can attest that some of the most jacked dudes cannot perform 10 straight bodyweight pull-ups with a strict form.

So, 10 bodyweight pull-ups for a beginner is no small ask. It will take weeks of hard work. However, don’t let anyone tell you it cannot be done.

In this article, I will share an actionable path to achieving 10 consecutive pull-ups, even if you cannot hold onto a pull-up bar for 10 seconds.

Understanding Your Pull-Up Starting Point

Doing Pull Ups

Your journey to 10 (or even five) unbroken pull-ups starts with an honest assessment of your current fitness conditioning. Remember, ‘fast’ is relative and will differ based on your strength levels and time commitment.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about how you can establish your current benchmarks.

How To Self-Assess Your Pull-Up Strength

Before you begin any type of training, you must assess your current fitness level to design a personalized and effective program. This is how you can assess your pull-up strength:

Max Pull-Ups

This is for people who can perform a few unassisted bodyweight pull-ups. Grab the pull-up bar and perform a single full-send effort set. Remember to follow a picture-perfect form and a full ROM. Your chin should be above the bar at the top, and your elbows should be fully extended at the bottom.

It is okay if you cannot perform an unassisted pull-up. Everyone starts somewhere.

Beginners can perform a max-rep set of lat pull-downs with half their body weight. If that set feels easy, feel free to increase the weight. Repeat this process until you are as close to your body weight on the stack as possible.

Pull-Up Variations for Beginners

With the strength test out of the way, let’s move on to the next step.

If you are like most people, you will need to work your way up to a bodyweight pull-up. I suggest using the following two variations to train and strengthen the exact muscles you need to do a pull-up:

Assisted Pull-Ups

There are several different ways of doing this. You could use a specialized machine or resistance bands or get help from a training partner. While performing this exercise, think about pulling with your lats and following a full ROM to maximize target muscle fiber recruitment.

Plus, pause in the fully shortened (top) and stretched (bottom) positions to increase the time under tension (TUT) and promote hypertrophy. Start with a heavier resistance band and transition to thinner bands as you get stronger. (1)

Negative Pull-Ups

In this variation, you start at the top of the range of motion (chin over the bar) and slowly lower to the bottom of your ROM. You could get to the top position by standing on a chair or jumping up.

A study found that eccentric (negative) contractions can induce greater muscle damage and subsequent hypertrophy than concentric contractions. (2)

Setting SMART Goals

Vague goals are among the most common reasons why most people quit before achieving their objectives. Here is the ultimate guide to setting practical goals:

  • Specific, Measurable, and Achievable: Ten pull-ups might be a little too many for some rookies. There is nothing wrong with lowering the goal to do five pull-ups in a row.
  • Relevant: Does the goal of doing 10 pull-ups fit into your overall training objective? An athlete prepping for a marathon has little to gain from doing 10 unbroken pull-ups.
  • Time-Bound: Give yourself a deadline to achieve the goal. A sense of urgency is one of the biggest enablers.

Building the Foundation: Strength & Mobility

Assisted Pull-Ups
Assisted Pull-Ups

Trainers who cannot perform a single unassisted pull-up must work on building a solid foundation first. This is how to do it:

Essential Exercises For Pull-Up Strength

Add the following exercises to your training regimen:

Vertical Rows

Make these the bread and butter of your training routine if your most urgent goal is to do a bodyweight pull-up. These exercises mimic the pull-up movement mechanics.

Aim for three sets of eight to 12 reps. Gradually increase the resistance or decrease the assistance as you get stronger.

Horizontal Rows

These movements help build back thickness and depth. Go as heavy as you can on these exercises while maintaining proper form. The exercises include:

Grip Strength

You are as strong on the pull-ups as your grip. Beginners can use grip strengtheners to jack up their hands and forearms. Other exercises that you must do:

Perform most of these exercises to failure for the best results.

Mobility For Pull-Ups

Most people overlook the importance of mobility for performing a pull-up with a full ROM. Tight shoulders, chest, and upper back muscles can limit target muscle engagement, hampering performance.

Here are a few exercises that should be a part of your regime:

  • Scapular Mobility Drills: Scapular push-ups, wall slides, and T-arm rotations
  • Thoracic Spine Exercises: Foam rolling, cat-cow stretches, and thoracic rotations
  • Shoulder Stretches: Cross-body arm stretches, doorway pec stretches, and sleeper stretches

Sample Beginner-Friendly Workout Plan (2-3 times per week)

Below is a sample training routine to help you build the strength and mobility for pull-ups:

Exercise Sets Reps
Horizontal Rows 3 8-12
Lat Pulldowns (or assisted) 3 To failure
Grip Strength Exercise 3 10-15 seconds
Scapular Mobility Drills 3 10-15 seconds
Thoracic Spine Exercises 3-5 30 seconds

Mastering Proper Pull-Up Form

“Pull-ups are a difficult exercise because you are lifting your own body weight,” said science-based fitness content creator Jeremy Ethier. “Many people don’t realize that pull-ups are not just a back exercise, but that several other muscles in your upper and lower body must work together synergistically to perform them properly.”

Here is a step-by-step guide to perform the pull-up:

  • Grab a pull-up bar with a shoulder-wide overhand grip.
  • Your elbows should be fully extended in the starting position.
  • Drive your elbows down and back, and imagine squeezing a pencil between your shoulder blades.
  • Keep your core braced as you pull your upper chest toward the bar.
  • Your chin should be above the bar at the top of the ROM.
  • Slowly lower to the starting position.
  • Repeat for recommended reps.

Pro Tip: Avoid using a monkey grip (thumbless). Instead, employ a full grip with thumbs wrapped around the bar for added security and to prevent accidental slips.

Progressing Towards Your 10 Pull-Up Goal

Pull-ups are a gymnastics skill; you shouldn’t expect to master them in the first few days of starting training. They involve several intricacies that will slowly reveal themselves as you put in the time and effort.

I’m often asked about the most effective way to boost pull-up performance; my answer is always the same — greasing the groove (GTG).

The GTG method involves performing the same exercise multiple times throughout the day. You stop each set before your muscles fatigue. Here is why the GTG method works:

  • Neural Pathways: Every time you perform a pull-up, you strengthen the neural pathways between your brain and muscles. It helps build muscle memory.
  • Skill Mastery: The more you practice something, the better you get at it. Practicing pull-ups throughout the day improves your technique and helps build strength.
  • Recovery: You never push yourself too hard in GTG training. It’s more about practicing the skill than hitting mechanical failure.

How To Grease the Groove (Pull-Ups):

Here is a quick guide on how you can go from 0 to 10 pull-ups fast using the GTG method:

  • Submaximal Sets: Perform several sets of pull-ups spread throughout the day. Start with one rep and gradually make your way up to 10 reps. However, you must never train to failure.
  • Spread It Out: Set up the pull-up bar at a place you pass throughout the day, such as your bathroom doorway. Perform a set of pull-ups each time before passing.
  • Consistency: Stick to this routine six days a week. The GTG method is all about consistent practice.

Progressive overload is the key to making consistent progress. To avoid strength and muscle mass plateaus, you must gradually increase the number of sets, reps, and overall volume over time.

You could also perform exercise variations or use advanced training techniques, such as assisted or forced reps, to ignite new gains.

Sample Pull-Up Schedules For Lifters of Different Experience Levels

Here is a simple pull-up training schedule with all the programming guidelines for beginners, intermediate, and advanced exercisers. Beginners must focus on drilling the movement mechanics with the assisted and negative pull-ups to build the requisite upper body strength and muscle mass to go from zero to 10 pull-ups fast.

Experience Level Days/Week Reps/Set Sets/Day Rest Between Sets Variations
Beginner 3-4 5-8 3-5 2-3 minute Assisted pull-ups, negatives
Intermediate 5-6 8-12 4-6 1-2 minute Bodyweight pull-ups, chin-ups
Advanced 6-7 12+ 5-8 30-60 seconds Weighted pull-ups, one-arm hangs

Pro Tip: These are just starting points. Feel free to alter the training frequency or volume based on your progress. That said, you must dial it back if you’re feeling sore or fatigued to lower your risk of injury.

Mental Strategies for Pull-Up Success

The way you think about pull-ups can completely change your performance. Here are some mental cues:

Visualization Techniques

“Your hands should be at least shoulder-width apart, and you should squeeze the bar inwards as you pull yourself up,” said fitness content creator Jeff Cavaliere.

Think about bending the bar around your body as you pull yourself up. Visualize your body rising smoothly and your chin going over the bar. Picture this before every set to deepen the mind-muscle connection.

Goal Setting

Break down your goal into smaller goals that you can check off your list each week. This technique will keep you motivated and psyched for your end objective. For instance, beginners should start with a three unbroken pull-up target and add two pull-ups until they hit their original target.

Dealing with Plateaus 

Hitting an overhead ceiling is inevitable on a strength and muscle-building program, and you must plan for it. Change your grip, use pull-up variations, and refine your form if your progress appears to stall.


Mastering pull-ups and stringing 10 of them together can be one of the biggest challenges for most lifters. Stay consistent, be patient, and enjoy the journey, and before you know it, you’ll be cranking out multiple sets of 10 pull-ups with ease.

If you are dealing with a specific pull-up issue, drop them in the comments below, and I’ll be happy to help!


Fitness Volt is committed to providing our readers with science-based information. We use only credible and peer-reviewed sources to support the information we share in our articles.

  1. Burd, N. A., Andrews, R. J., West, D. W., Little, J. P., Cochran, A. J., Hector, A. J., Cashaback, J. G., Gibala, M. J., Potvin, J. R., Baker, S. K., & Phillips, S. M. (2012). Muscle time under tension during resistance exercise stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional synthetic responses in men. The Journal of physiology, 590(2), 351–362.
  2. Krzysztofik M, Wilk M, Wojdała G, Gołaś A. Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019;16(24):4897. Published 2019 Dec 4. doi:10.3390/ijerph16244897

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