Tag Archives: tutorial

How to Do a Pull Up- Step Five

Are you ready?

Can you feel the excitement?

After all of your hard work over the last month is about to pay off.

To recap what you’ve done:

STEP ONE- Flexed Arm Hang

STEP TWO- Slow Descent


STEP FOUR- Mixed Grip

I know you’re ready for it!


Start with one.

See how you feel.

See if you can add ONE more.

Go ahead.  You can do it!


What’s next?  Keep working at the pull up.  Even if you try it every other day now (rather than every day like you’ve been doing), see if you can add one rep each week.  You’re using muscles in your arms, shoulders, back, chest, abs, and legs.  What a great full body exercise!

Learning to do a pull up is a WAKE UP CALL for your kinetic chain.  You have to have all of your muscles firing together in order to be successful.  If you can carry over this awareness of muscle synchronicity to other exercises in your workout, you’ll develop a stronger, better coordinated, more efficient body.

And isn’t that what we’re all aiming for?

Want to make my day?  Leave me a comment and let me know of your pull up success.  I want to congratulate you on your hard work!


How to do a Pull Up- Step Four

How’s it going?  Have you been following along on our Pull Up challenge?

If not, go back to the beginning, and get yourself caught up:

STEP ONE: Flexed Arm Hang

STEP TWO: Slow Descent


And, for today, we’ll move on to STEP FOUR: Mixed Grip

Aim for 8-10 repetitions of the mixed grip hang + slow descent.

Practice daily!

By next Thursday, you want this to feel smooth and easy.

Stay tuned for the final video, STEP FIVE: The Real Deal, next Thursday!

Leave me a comment to let me know how you’re doing!

How to do a Pull Up- Step Three

If you’re just joining us on our quest to FINALLY learn to do a pull up, I recommend starting at the beginning:

STEP ONE- Flexed Arm Hang

STEP TWO- Slow Descent

Once you’re feeling strong and in control with those moves, go ahead and try


Go for one good-form chin up to start.

Your goal is to keep working each day so you can do 3-5 good-form chin ups by next Thursday, when we’ll talk about STEP FOUR: Mixed Grip.

Leave me a comment to let me know how you’re doing!

How to do a Pull Up- Step Two

Last Thursday I introduced a five-part series to help you build the strength and muscle coordination necessary to execute a good-form pull up.

Today, we’re back with STEP TWO: The Slow Descent

Hold the flexed arm hang for 3 seconds, then slowly descend.

Aim for 8-10 repetitions.

Practice both the STEP ONE Flexed Arm Hang and the STEP TWO Slow Descent daily for fastest progress.

Leave a comment to let me know how you’re doing!

How to Do a Pull Up: Step One


You’ve been wishing you were strong enough to do a pull up for ages.

You’ve thought about how you’re going to achieve your goal.

You’ve had a few days to get your plan and materials together.


Here’s STEP ONE: The Flexed Arm Hang


Hang for as long as you can (up to 10 seconds).  Drop down and repeat.

Aim for 8-10 repetitions.

And before you ask: yes, it’s okay to use a chair to get up into the hang position.  (Just watch out for it on the way down!)  You can also jump up into the hang position.  This first step is all about building strength in the biceps as you hold your body weight.

Leave a comment to let me know how it goes!

Pull Up Power in Just Five Weeks

I’ve been working as a personal trainer for more than seven years, and if there is one thing that people have as a goal– regardless of their starting level of fitness or activity preference– it is to do a pull up.  I’ve blogged about the specificity of training required to learn to do a pull up, and I included them as a bonus exercises when I ran my virtual bootcamp.

But I still get a lot of questions about the best way to learn to do a pull up.  To help you out, I’m going to run a five-week video blog series.  Each week is one step to build up the strength and muscle coordination to do a pull up.  Practice the move in the video each week, and then move on to the next step when the next video is posted.  That will happen weekly on Thursdays.

As it is only Monday, I want to give you a few ideas of how to get yourself ready for this virtual training.  First of all, you need a strong and secure bar to use for your pull ups.  If you’re a regular at the gym, this is easy.  If you’re a home-based exerciser, you have a few options.

I recommend the J-Fit Deluxe Doorway Pull Up Bar.





Depending on your door frames, you may prefer this over-the-door style:

I have the first option, and I like it just fine.  It’s easy to mount, easy to put away when I’m done, and it’s worked well for at least five years.

If you don’t want to mar your home in any way (mine leaves little circular marks on my door jamb, but I can wipe them away when I finally get around to it), maybe you have a park nearby.  While you won’t have the cushy grips that you’d find on a dedicated pull up bar, I guarantee there is a metal bar of an appropriate diameter (comfy in your hands) that you can use.  This is an especially good option for parents of a small child who would be ecstatic to go to the park for 10 minutes a day for the next five weeks.  (Trust me, I have one of these small people myself.)

Otherwise, you don’t need any equipment.  See how easy this is going to be?

All it requires is your dedication for a few minutes every day.  The tutorial videos are about 30 seconds long.  You’ll think about the body mechanics as I describe them, and then try to replicate it yourself.  I’ll give you a goal for each week’s daily workout and a suggested goal before you move on to the next step.

You can do this. I believe in you.

Get yourself equipped, and you’re all ready to go.

See you Thursday!

Disclosure: The links included to the products are Amazon Affiliate links.



Aqua Yoga: Changing the Planes

This is the second in a four-part series posting on Thursdays about Aqua Yoga.  

Last week’s Aqua Yoga post discussed the benefits and challenges of buoyancy and balancing postures.  This week, I want to show you how changing the planes in which your asana are practiced can bring greater awareness to alignment and muscular connectivity as well as deepen the breath.

Let’s look at two postures.

High Side Lunge


In a land practice, this version of this posture, the feet are both turned out slightly with the weight shifted toward the side with the bent knee. The lower bent leg should track over the ankle, and the chest should remain lifted with shoulders away from the ears.  Holding this posture will strengthen the legs, stretch the inner thigh of the straight leg, and allow for deep breathing along the tall spine.

When the side lunge is taken into the pool, we utilize the side wall of the pool as our base.


The feet remain in firm contact with the base, and the hands on the pool deck should be as relaxed as possible.  The spine is still tall, the chin neutral, and the shoulders are low.

But here’s the amazing difference: when doing side lunge on land, the work is quite intense.  The quadriceps start to burn, and the body starts to warm.  With this work, breathing often becomes less deep.  When in the water, however, the legs are still active, but the tailbone hangs free allowing an incredible release along the entire length of the spine.  And because the legs aren’t working so hard to hold the weight of the body, breathing can remain deep and even.

To take this posture into rotation:


On land, the rotation of the side angle deepens the stretch in the groin.  The twist should originate in the lower back, but that may not be achievable for many people. (Use of a block for the ground-side hand would help.)  Again, the legs are working hard here, so holding the twist may be limited to just a few breaths.


In the water, the twist can happen freely thanks to the released tailbone.  By pushing the feet into the side wall, the torso lifts up and out of the pelvis as the arm and body twist toward the bent leg.  This rotation can be held for longer– giving the benefits of improved digestion, decrease in back pain, and stress relief–and allows for the full expression of the asana.

Eye of the Needle- Sucirandrasana

This pose for hip opening, low back stretching, and general gentle feel-goodness is a favorite of many yogis.

You’ve probably already figured out that we’re not going to do this one lying down on the bottom on the pool.  Rather, we’re going to modify it into a standing posture.

Performing eye-of-the-needle while standing is fantastic for pregnant women who cannot be in a supine position for extended lengths of time.  This is a population who needs the hip-opening benefits of the posture.  But it feels great for anyone who does a lot of sitting….which is pretty much everyone.



Start in utkatasana  (chair pose) with the back against the pool wall.  Shift the bodyweight into one leg and cross the other leg over the base leg.  Hands come to the heart in prayer position.  Focus on sinking down into the pose, lowering the upper bent knee (right, as shown above) toward the pool floor as you keep the foot flexed.

One bonus of taking eye-of-the-needle into the water is that you can add an element of core work to it.

Drape your arms on the pool deck behind you to brace your body.  With your legs still crossed with heel pushing out and knee opening to the bottom of the pool, tilt the pelvis up toward the head so that the feet and legs float up.  You can either hold this position or do mini crunches in rhythm with your breath.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into how taking your yoga pratice into the pool and changing the planes the asana are expressed in can help you establish strong alignment and connect with your breath.

Next week we’ll explore Goddess Pose and discuss why finding your goddess in the pool is so blissful.