Do the simple things first. Its an important maxim that game  changing companies like Instagram were built on. While your ability to do pull ups may not be worth billions the same rule applies. It is easy to get sucked into complicated programs but the best programs to increase skills, especially in beginner and intermediate stages , follow simple rules.

Keep incrementally progressive

The way improvement works is to stress your body and let it adapt and then increase the stress. Assuming running a 30 minute 5k is challening the first morning you head out the door it will improve your fitness. If you are like a lot of people you will do this two or three times a week. Your fitness may increase the next few times but at somepoint your body adapts and this run will no longer improve your fitness. Unless you run faster or longer you won’t improve. Skills are the same. Make the pull ups harder or do more in a set on occasion.


Make sure you can measure

It is hard to make incremental progressions if you don’t know what you did last time. What ever program you use or design make sur

e you can measure your difficulty each time

Keep the plan the plan

It may get less than thrilling after a few weeks. That may be the price you pay for improving. Select a time frame, usually 8-12 weeks, and stick with the program and the skill for that period. The caveat to this is of you are unable to make progress in a few weeks. There may be something wrong with your program and you should probably rethink or ask a coach


Below are some sample programs for some common movements. Later posts will talk about movements specifically and add movements that aren’t on part 1.

Strict pull up

Pull up x 3 sets  x 5 with a band 2 days a week.  Day 3 work 3 sets of 1 negative with a focus on the very top and very bottom

Start with a band you can do 3 sets of 5 with. Attempt to add one pull up to all three sets each week. If you can only add it to one set that is fine just try to add one pull up to one set every week. Once you can do 3 sets of 9 or so with a band move up one band.

Kipping pull up

Each time you are at the gym do 3 sets of 15 seconds of kipping swing. Continue to develop you strict pull up during this time. Once your kip is power you can work on kipping pull ups starting at sets of 1 and moving up from there.

Chest to bar

Day 1 – Banded Chest to bar hold Day 2 Strict Chest to bar with a band 3 sets of 5.  Day 3 Kipping chest to bar x 5 sets of 1. Increase by 1 each week. Follow the same progression rules for kipping pull ups

Push up

Day 1 and 3 3 sets of 5 with a band of hand release push ups.  Follow the same progression rules as pull ups. Day 2 Negative push up for 3 sets of 3

Bar dip

Day 1 and 3 3 sets of 5 with a band. Follow the same progression rules as pull ups. Day 2 Negative dips for 3 sets of 3

Ring Dip

Day 1 and 3 3 sets of 5 with a band. Follow the same progression rules as pull ups. Day 2 Negative dips for 3 sets of 3


Muscle ups

Day 1 and 3, 4 Muscle up turn over drill x 5 sets of 3. Day 2 L sit banded muscle up


Practice for 5 minutes. Start with the heel kiss drill and work to vertical

Handstand push up

Day 1 and 3 Shortened Range of motion strict x 3 sets of five. Day 4 Negative 3 sets of 2.

Handstand walking

Practice 5 minutes a day


Kipping Toes to bar

3 sets of 10 kipping knees to chest slowing working the toes closer to the bar daily


Day 1 and 3 Pistols x3 sets of 5 each leg to a box. Increase the depth weekly. Use plates stacked on boxes to make the progression smaller than 20” to 16” etc.  Day 2 and 4 Pistols with a band x 3 x 5 . (follow the same progression as banded pull ups)