The pull-up is one of the staples of the bodyweight workout routine and engages a whole host of muscle groups each time you attempt them.
But as you get better and better at your regular pull-ups, you’ll eventually need a way to challenge yourself more!
Luckily, there are a whole host of progressions you can work through to keep muscles engaged and progress toward your health and fitness goals.
This is a 30-day pull-up challenge that will work you up to more challenging pull-up progressions. Throughout the 30 day challenge, you’ll be working your shoulders, chest, and arms each day in increasing difficulty.
Take your time to work through each progression and stick to the number of sets and reps you’ve decided on each day.
Why do Pull-Ups?
Pull-ups offer so many benefits for anyone who wants to get healthy and reach their fitness goals.
Even if you’re not looking to get bulky muscles but just tone your body and improve your wrist strength, pull-ups are a great way to get the job done!
Upper Body Strength
Besides showing off to your friends at the gym, pull-ups are a great way to work your entire upper body!
Pull-ups can be done anywhere you can find a bar and you can even install your own in the doorway of your office or home so you can do them anytime you want.
Once you master the traditional pull-up, you can start working your way through progressions to challenge yourself and target different areas of your body.
While the focus remains on your shoulders, chest, back, and arms with each pull-up progression, switching up your handhold, the pause at the top of the pull, or any other slight variation will have your other muscles screaming.
Pull-ups are efficient when it comes down to the way you do them and the overall benefit you get from the move. Pull-ups as a bodyweight exercise area a compound move that engages a lot of different muscle groups at once.
If you don’t have a lot of time to work out, using compound exercises to engage all your muscle groups will give you a 2-hour workout in just 30 minutes.
Since pull-ups also rely on just your body weight to provide the resistance with each move, there are lots of potentials to build your muscles up and end up with a shredded upper body.
The compound move pushes your muscles to an extreme and with pull-ups, you won’t need tons of equipment to get the job done each time you want to workout.
Better Grip Strength
While you may not have the chance to show off your biceps or abs every day, you’ll most certainly use your grip strength in everyday activities.
Pull-ups require a good amount of grip strength to even complete the move but each time you train and fail, you’re training your grip strength even more.
Activities like baseball, climbing, weight lifting, football, and everyday activities like holding a baby, a coffee cup, or opening a jar of pickles require good and secure grip strength.
Training on the pull-up bar every day, even for just a little bit, will get you started on a path to better grip strength for all of your everyday activities.
Your wrists are never going to get bulky like your biceps or triceps but you’ll notice a change in your grip strength as you keep training and working through progressions.
Even if you don’t see the muscles growing, it doesn’t mean you won’t build up your strength with each session. You’ll most likely see the strength in other areas of your life so don’t give up after a few sessions!
Conditions Your Upper Back
When most of us head out to the gym, we focus a lot on the muscles we can see like our abs, biceps, and leg muscles.
The upper back can be a tough place to target when you hit the gym but instead of trying to get what you need from the machines, turning to bodyweight exercises like pull-ups makes for a great option.
As you go through each step of the pull-up progression, you’ll target your upper back in a different way.
Your shoulders and back muscles are used in the pull-up and this is a great way to build up those muscles.
With your back strengthened, you’ll have better balance, be able to lift things more efficiently and protect your whole back from injury.
Stronger and Bigger Back Muscles
If you’re looking to get shredded and make your back muscles pop out when you’re showing off, there’s no better exercise than pull-ups!
As you progress through the entire move, all of your muscle groups are engaged and the bodyweight resistance provides a portable way to take the weights with you when you travel.
Those big back muscles won’t just be for show.
Bodyweight exercises like pull-ups are based around creating functional strength so you won’t end up muscle-bound and not able to move but instead you’ll find everyday tasks are easier because you’ve been training.
Enhances Your Posture
Changing your posture can be a difficult task. By building up the muscles in your back, your posture will naturally align itself again and before you know it, you’ll be standing up straighter with each passing day.
The stronger muscles help keep you upright and holding your head up high!
Instead of just trying to align your spine and change your posture on your own, by building up your back muscles you’ll let your body do the work for you.
Pull-ups bring your shoulders back in repeated exercise and your back muscles will soon pull your spine into alignment through all of the progressions.
The 30 Day Pull-Up Challenge
With all of the benefits of pull-ups, you might be ready to jump in and start doing as many reps and sets as possible.
But before you just dive into a whole new routine, you can structure your pull-ups and progressions to maximize the benefits you’ll see with each workout session.
Pull-ups are a functional bodyweight exercise so you’ll most likely see everyday changes in the strength you feel before you’ll see your body start to bulk up!
Be patient with yourself and the way you’re doing each progression and make sure you’re following along with the correct form so you don’t get hurt.
If all you know how to do is the traditional pull-up, you’re quickly going to get bored and as you get stronger you’ll need to do more and more to keep up with your strength and control.
Take time to work your way through the progressions and give your body time to adjust to each progression.
Neutral Grip Pull-Ups
This is the first in the progression line-up when you’re ready to get serious about doing pull-ups. The neutral grip pull-up has your palms facing each other like a hammer curl grip.
You’ll start this one with your hands facing each other and your arms end up shoulder-width apart. This can be adjusted slightly depending on the spacing between the bars.
When you’re ready to go through this progression, grab the parallel bar and hang freely with your arms extended all the way. You’ll keep your head up, core engaged, and pull yourself up by flexing your elbows.
Pull yourself up to the chin, pause for a second, then lower yourself back down to the starting position.
Fat Bar Pull-Ups
Traditional pull-ups focus on using the regular pull-up bar. It’s thinner and your hands will easily be able to wrap around it.
If you’re looking to improve your grip strength, switching from a thin bar to a fat bar is a great way to give your hands some practice with grip.
You’ll stick to the same form as a traditional pull-up and start by grasping the bar in an overhand grip, arms shoulder-width apart.
Pull yourself up by flexing your elbows and pause at the top of your rotation before lowering yourself back down to the starting position.
Wide Grip Pull-Ups
When you want to start targeting your shoulders and back, you’ll move on to doing some wide grip pull-ups. This targets your back, chest, shoulders, and arms and even engages your core muscles in a whole new way.
Wide grip pull-ups start by grabbing the bar with your thumbs facing each other. Your grip should end up wider than your body and your body should form a Y when you’re hanging from the bar.
Then you’ll look straight ahead and pull your body up toward the bar, pause at the top of the rotation and then lower yourself back down to the starting position.
Overhand Body Rows
This is a great progression that helps you get in a core workout as well as a back, shoulder and arm, workout. You’ll need some equipment to do this move so you might have to leave your home or backyard to get to the gym.
You’ll start with your bar or rings at waist height and remember that the lower the bar is, the more difficult the move! You’ll then lay under the bar, grab the bar in an overhand grip with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.
Engage your abs and butt and keep your body in a straight line. You’ll then pull yourself up to the bar until your chest touches the bar, pause, then lower yourself under control back to your starting position.
Underhand Body Rows
This is slightly different than the overhand body row and the change in grip helps you work different muscles when you’re trying to target different areas of the body.
You’ll set up your rings or bar in the same way as the overhand body row and you’ll then reach up and grab the bar with an underhand grip instead of an overhand.
You’ll go through the same movements as the overhand body row by contracting your elbows and pull up until your chest touches the bar then lower yourself back down.
False Grip Body Rows
This may take some practice to get right so don’t get discouraged if you don’t get the technique completed the first time. You’ll need some equipment for this one as well and it’s most often done with some rings rather than a bar.
Grasp the rings so your wrist is resting on them and your knuckles are facing each other. You’ll then lower yourself into a ring row position while keeping your wrist on the ring.
You can make the move harder by putting your feet up on a box or bench which will help you engage your core even more.
Wide Grip Body Rows
You’ll switch with this one from the rings to the bar and start in the same body row position but you’ll move your hands farther apart into a wide grip.
You’ll then contract your elbows and pull your body up until your chest touches the bar. Pause at the top of your rotation then lower yourself back down to the starting position before going on to finish all your specified reps and sets.
Close Grip Body Rows
This is the opposite of the wide grip body rows so you’ll move your hands close together on the bar when you’re set in the body row position. This targets a whole new area on your shoulders and arms as you go through this move.
You’ll contract your elbows and pull up toward the bar until your chest touches the bar and then lower back down to the starting point.
How many Pull-Ups Should Be Done Each Day?
Everyone is different and if you’re just starting with some pull-ups and learning the technique, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to do many pull-ups in your first workout. But as you get better and start working through the progressions, you’ll be able to do plenty with each session.
The average number of pull-ups that help you build great functional strength and power is between 25 and 30 with each workout.
Depending on the type of pull-up you’re doing, you should shoot for an average of 8-10 reps in each set. This will give you the recommended 25-30 in no time.
Frequently Asked Questions
While pull-ups aren’t a foreign concept for most of us, doing them yourself can feel like an overwhelming task to undertake when you’re just starting.
Before you dive into a whole new routine, it’s best to get all your questions answered!
Even if you don’t have a full coach, you can create a pull-up routine that will help you get that great upper body strength in just 30 days.
Can you get Shredded with 30 Pull-Ups a Day?
Pull-ups are hard to master and when you’re working through the progressions even finishing 5 pull-ups can feel too difficult to manage.
Being able to do 30 pull-ups in each workout is a feat in and of itself!
The struggle to master 30 pull-ups will start to show in the way your body looks if you’re able to stick with the program for 30 days.
Can I get toned in 30 days?
The 30-day challenge is a relatively new way of looking at workouts and seeing results in a short amount of time.
You’ll work through several different styles of pull-ups throughout the 30 days and after the 30 days, most people see a serious change in body tone and muscle.
Even though it’s billed as a 30-day challenge, you’ll be able to have several rest days inside the workout program so you won’t exhaust your body.
At the end of a 30-day program, you’ll have done over 1000 pull-ups and that will tone your whole body over that short amount of time.
You’ll need to be dedicated to the program and stick to the schedule to see results but you’ll see them in no time!
Can I get ripped from pull-ups?
Pull-ups are hard to master but once you get the form down, you’ll start to see changes in your body.
Increasing the number of pull-ups you do as you master the form will help build your muscles up even quicker.
While pull-ups do often engage the entire body, the legs aren’t usually part of the normal pull-up routine.
Your upper body will see the changes most acutely but you might still need to do some serious leg day routines to get your whole body in shape.
Can I do pull-ups at home?
There are tons of stand-alone or in-doorway pull-up bars that you can set up at your home or office.
You’ll be able to do tons of pull-ups at home so you don’t need to head out to the gym to get a solid workout in.
You can utilize just any old bar or beam at home but sticking with a dedicated pull-up bar is one of the best ways to make sure you’re safe and that you’re able to stick to the correct form.
Pull-ups are hard to master but once you get the form down, they’re one of the most efficient and effective bodyweight moves you can do.
The progressions allow you to challenge yourself and create and target different areas of the body with each workout.
The 30-day pull-up challenge will help you master the form and get ripped in just a few simple days.
At the end of the 30-day challenge, you’ll have done over 1000 pull-ups!
The form is important and with each progression, you’ll learn something new. You’ll tone and improve your arms, back, and shoulders through the challenge.
In addition to getting ripped and shredded with pull-ups, you’ll work on improving your posture and back strength.
Bodyweight exercises are all about creating functional strength so even if you don’t want to get shredded, you’ll notice the change in your everyday life and the way your body handles simple movements and exercises.
The benefits of pull-ups can be seen in every area of your life from holding your baby to increasing your grip strength for mountain climbing. Whatever you want to do, focusing on doing some more pull-ups will help you get things done more efficiently.
Pull-ups are a great way to show off to everyone at the gym and prove to yourself that you’re able to build up your muscles and get shredded with some simple moves.
Pull-ups are also a great way to mix things up with your regular workout routine. If things are getting a little stale with your regular workout routine, you can add in some pull-ups and change things up.
Pull-ups can be done almost anywhere and you can even add your pull-up bar to your home or office for easy access to an area to workout.
Jumping into a 30-day pull-up challenge is one of the best ways to spark a whole new emphasis on working out!
Many people have trouble setting aside time to go to the gym, some don’t have the extra cash for a membership and others don’t have equipment at home.
Instead of letting those barriers prevent you from getting fit, we decided to crush them with this 4 week, total body workout you can do anywhere, anytime.
- 4-week program, 3 workouts each week
- Workouts vary in length from 25-40 minutes
- No equipment required, but a yoga or exercise mat, towel, and water bottle are helpful
- Free Bonus: Intro to Nutrition and Healthy Eating
- Printable PDF workout calendar
Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a bachelor’s degree in medicine from Alexandria university and is a practicing plastic surgeon. He’s our expert on all things nutrition, medicine, rehabilitation, and flexibility. Dr.Ahmed has been a medical content writer for more than 11 years and his work reached top publications such as the HuffingtonPost