Upper Body Pull-Up Workout



Total Gym Pull-Up Workouts

Looking for an upper body workout to chisel out the classic V-shaped torso or perhaps the sexy rock climber physique? The Total Gym Pull-up Challenge focuses on just the right muscle groups to augment your upper body and empower you to pull your own bodyweight. Challenge yourself to stick with the program for 30 days and share your baseline and weekly results in the comments section below.

Muscles Worked: Latisumus dorsi (Lats), biceps, triceps (long head), teres major, biceps and forearm musculature
Benefits: Strength, Power & Endurance

Baseline Performance Assessment

Start with this baseline performance test: raise your Total Gym to the highest incline and perform as many pull-ups as possible without stopping or allowing the glideboard to bottom out. If you’re unable to perform at least one repetition, lower the incline to the level at which you can perform at least one full range of motion pull-up. Record your incline level and repetitions, as this will serve as a baseline for progress.

Basic Pull Up Workouts

Always warm up with three to five minutes of general upper body movement before your workout. For example you could take a brisk walk, do basic upper body calisthenics or even a light dumbbell warm up.

Next, set your Total Gym to a mid-level incline with a pull-up bar attached or the lat-bars in the pull-up position. Lie facedown on the glideboard with your chin in light contact with the top edge of the board. With a strong grip, raise your feet from the floor and allow a mild stretch through the back of the shoulders as you straighten the arms. Without bending the elbows, attempt to move the glideboard up and down an inch or two by drawing the shoulders down then returning to the stretch. This is a very important component of a good pull-up as it ensures the shoulder blades are stable enough to handle the bodyweight. Continue for 30-45 seconds. Repeat this step each day as a warm up for your upper body workout.

You’ll also want to determine the incline level where you can perform 10-12 full range-of-motion repetitions without rest. Work at a 2-2 tempo, meaning two seconds up and two seconds down. This will be your work zone and you’ll want to increase the incline immediately once you’re able to perform more than twelve reps.

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Hang Time


Raise your incline to the top level and hang with your shoulders stabilized for as long as possible. This will enhance your grip strength and scapular stability. Remember to keep your shoulders pulled down away from your ears as you hang for time.

Work Zone


2-3 days per week (48 hours rest between workouts)
2-3 sets per workout with at least two minutes of rest between sets.
Remember to activate each repetition by drawing the shoulders away from the ears.

Tip: Mix up your grip by switching between a palm up grip and palm down grip between sets.

Power Zone


1-2 days per week
Lower the incline a level or two from the work zone. Use a 1-1 tempo (one second up, one second down) and try to keep your chest down on the glideboard. Avoid any jerky shoulder motions toward the bottom of the exercise.

Tip: Feeling confident? Forcefully pull yourself up the incline and release the grip for a millisecond at the top. The added momentum to the descent will help build power and strength. Be safe!

Performance Zone


1 day per week

Raise the incline to the top level or try a workout on a standard pull-up bar at the gym or in a park. You can also purchase a multi-grip pull-up bar that quickly installs above a doorframe. Keep trying to pull up your bodyweight

Recording Your Progress


Take weekly recordings of the following variables. This will give your brain the progress report it needs so you can keep pushing forward. After 30 days, compare your results to your baseline assessment! We’d love to hear your results in the comments section!

1. Hang time: seconds
2. Work Zone: Level at which you fatigue between 10-12 repetitions
3. Number of pull-ups at highest incline or standard pull-up bar (repetitions)

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