Common Pull-Up Mistakes

Here are some simple and easy solutions to widespread pull-up technique errors.

By Joe Wuebben | November 9, 2016

The Flaw: Kipping

The Fix: Here’s the deal — if you’re doing CrossFit, pumping out high reps of pull-ups and you’re experienced with the technique, go ahead and kip. But if your goal is to build maximal upper-body pulling strength and lat size, stick to strict pull-ups with no momentum created by the lower body. Heck, even CrossFit gyms prescribe strict pull-ups on a regular basis these days.

The Flaw: Stopping short at the bottom

The Fix: Pull-ups are tough, so it’s tempting to stop at the bottom of each rep when the arms are still bent 20–30 degrees. Don’t do it. Go down all the way, until the elbows are fully extended. It may decrease your rep counts, but you’ll be bigger and stronger in the long run.

The Flaw: Sticking to one grip

The Fix: As with any major movement, grip variety is highly recommended with pull-ups to increase strength from all angles and arm positions. Don’t just use the grip you’re best at. Mix in at least three different hand placements on a regular basis — wide (at least shoulder width) and overhand, narrow and underhand (aka chin-ups), and neutral (palms facing each other if the pull-up station you’re using has parallel bars). Use a different grip every workout or even every set.



About the Author

Joe Wuebben

Joe Wuebben is a veteran fitness writer with over 15 years of experience. He was a staff editor at Muscle & Fitness magazine from 2002-2014 and currently writes for Muscle & Performance, The Box and Oxygen magazines, among other publications. He's authored or co-authored four books, including Mario Lopez's Extra Lean.