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From middle school to the Marine corps, this exercise is the ultimate test of strength. “To lift your own body weight, you need a healthy ratio of fat to muscle,” Manzanares says. Think women can’t raise themselves above the bar? Peek in the window of a CrossFit gym for some major motivation, and then follow this pull-up progression plan to eventually accomplish it yourself:
1. Focus on the lowering phase. Use a high plyo box to position yourself at the top of the pull-up position. Bend your knees and then slowly lower your body until your arms are extended. Return to starting position. Do 3 sets of 5 reps three times a week. When you can descend for 5 seconds, try the next version (below).
2. Get a spotter. Hold the bar with hands slightly wider than shoulders and have a strong pal stand behind you. Try to pull up, with ankles crossed if necessary, as your spotter helps lift your legs. Lower to starting position. Do 3 sets of 5 reps. When you can do 5 reps with minimal help from your friend, try the variation below.
3. Do half pull-ups. Stand on a plyo box that's high enough so that when you grab the bar your arms are bent about 45 degrees. Pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar, then lower to starting position. Do 5 sets of 3. Easy? You're ready for a full pull-up.
RELATED: 22 "Men's Exercises" Women Should Do
Get stronger and sexier than you ever thought possible by conquering one or more of these 8 fitness feats
Get stronger and sexier than you ever thought possible by conquering one or more of these 8 fitness feats.