Chest to Bar Pull-Ups Progression for Beginners

In this article, we will offer a 6-step chest to bar pull-up progression guide for beginners. In recent articles, the chest to bar pull-up was discussed, which covered in detail the muscles worked, exercise demos, and benefits of performing either the strict chest to bar pull-up and/or kipping variations (kip and butterfly). The below guide will walk you through all the necessary exercises one must master in chronological order from least complex to the most advanced variation of chest to bar pull-ups.

6-Step Chest to Bar Pull-Up Progressions

The below progressions can be used by coaches, intermediate and advanced athletes, and beginner fitness goals to develop proper upper body strength, movement awareness, and skill necessary to perform chest to bar pull-ups (strict, kipping, butterfly). It is important to note that this 6-step progression guide does not include basis hyperoptic work and/or foundational skill development, such as; body rows, assisted pull-ups, kipping technique, etc. You can refer to the below exercise guides to enhance those individuals movements.

The listing below is strictly to help coaches and beginner athletes conceptualize the progressions and offer some guidance as to when and how to progress a movement to best master the most complex chest to bar pull-up variations.

1. Strict Pull-Up

The strict pull-up is the foundational bodyweight exercise that all other forms of pull-ups are built upon. By performing the strict pull-up, you ensure proper muscle development, strength, body awareness, and necessary skills needed for more complex movements in the progression. In the event you cannot perform strict pull-ups (lets say at least 10 strict pull-ups as shown in the video below) it is recommended that you spend time developing the necessary strength and muscle mass for later progressions by including band-assisted pull-ups, jumping pull-ups, and inverted rows into your program.

2. Kipping Pull-Up

The kipping pull-up is a combination of a strict pull-up with the kip, a necessary skill that entails an athlete to explosively use their hips and body momentum to assist in the movement of the pull-up. The kip should be developed independently to the strict pull-up to ensure proper body awareness and movement patterning at the shoulder and thoracic spine. Once this has been established, coaches can introduce the two components together to help lifters develop the kipping strict pull-up.

3. Butterfly Pull-Up

The butterfly pull-up is similar to the kipping pull-up, however it involves a lifters to move in a circular motion to ensure fluidity and conserve energy as they drop from the top of the pull-up position. There are a few key differences (such as elbow positioning and body placement as you push off the bar to repeat repetitions) that are discussed in the video below.

4. Strict Chest to Bar Pull-Up

The strict chest to bar pull-up is a strict pull-up variation that has the individual pull their chest to the bar, rather than stopping once the chin passes. This increased range of motion, which covers a few more inches at the top of the pull-up, requires greater upper body strength than the standard strict pull-up version. This can be trained using similar methods (and timing) to the strict pull-up (bands, jumping, etc).

5. Kipping Chest to Bar Pull-Up

Like the kipping pull-up, the kipping chest to bar pull-up has an individual use the kipping movement to provide momentum to get the chest upwards to meet the bar. Once the lifter has done this, he/she can return to the hanging position to repeat for the prescribed repetitions.

6. Butterfly Chest to Bar Pull-up

This is one of the more advanced chest to bar pull-up variations, which entails a lifter to perform a proper chest to bar pull-up with the inclusion of a kip. Unlike the above progressions (kipping chest to bar pull-up) the individual does not simply return to the hanging position after each repetition. Rather, they are to recycle the movement at the bottom of each rep into the cyclical, fluid, and non-stop manner. This takes a great degree of grip strength, body awareness, coordination, and midline control.

Build a Better Pull-Up (Strict and Kipping)

Building a better pull-up isn’t just about…doing pull-ups. Check out the articles below and learn how to improve mobility, midline control, and shoulder health to enhance pull-up performance.

Featured Image: @neha_agarwalla2 on Instagram

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Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.