Fall Pull Up Challenge: Week 1

The first week of the 12 Minute Athlete Fall Pull Up Challenge is about to begin!

If you didn’t see our announcement post for the challenge, be sure to go back and read it here. This challenge is mostly meant for absolute beginners who can’t do pull ups yet. If you can already do a few and have plateaued or need ideas on how to keep progressing, you’ll find our pull up course helpful.

During the next four weeks, we’ll be focusing specifically on upper body and core strength. Both are crucial for getting your first pull up or chin up.

Week One Workout

During the first week of the challenge, we’ll be focusing on the following workout:

Complete 3-4 rounds:

  • 15 Sandbag rows (or use a heavy duffel bag, kettlebells, dumbbells or whatever else you have)
  • 10 Triceps dips
  • 10 Superman raises
  • Hollow body hold as long as you can

Advanced option: If you can already do one or more pull ups, this workout will still help you build up strength to break past your current PR! However, if you want to bump up the challenge just a bit, you can add in some pull ups before each round as well, so your workout will look like this:

Complete 3-4 rounds:

  • As many chin ups or pull ups as possible
  • 15 Sandbag rows
  • 10 Triceps dips
  • 10 Superman raises
  • Hollow body hold as long as you can

Try and do this workout three times during the week, making sure to take at least one rest day in between workouts. If you’re doing the advanced option, make sure to write down how many pull ups you’re able to do each round to keep track of your progress.

Exercise instructions

Sandbag Rows

For this exercise, use a sandbag, set of heavy dumbbells, kettlebells, or other heavy objects (a bag of potatoes, for example—get creative!) The weight should be challenging enough so that the last few reps feel very heavy.

Here’s how to do them:

  • Hold a weight in each hand
  • Bend your knees slightly, bend at the waist and bring your torso forward until it is almost parallel to the floor
  • With a weight in each hand, keep your arms straight, then lift the weights to your side keeping the elbows close to the body and squeezing the upper back muscles
  • Slowly and with control, lower the weight to the starting position.

Triceps Dips

There are two options for triceps dips: to use a sturdy bench or a box, or a dip bar or parallel bars. More advanced athletes should use the latter option.

If you’re using a bench or a box:

  • Sit down on the edge of the bench or box. Place your hands on either side of your hips, fingers pointing forward
  • Slide your butt off the bench, walk your feet forward and straighten your legs
  • Bend your elbows, keeping them as close to your sides as possible and pointing back. Bend your elbows enough so that your butt gets as close to the floor as possible
  • Push yourself back up to starting position

If you’re using a dip bar or parallel bars:

  • Grip your dip bar with both hands, straighten your arms and cross your legs to keep them off the floor
  • Keep your chest up and shoulders back and squeeze your core muscles, then lower down so that your elbows are parallel to the floor or slightly further
  • Push yourself back to the starting position

Superman Raises

  • Lie down on your belly with your arms and legs straight
  • Squeeze your back and butt muscles, point your toes and fingers and lift your arms and legs off the floor. Hold for a second, then return to the starting position.

Hollow Body Holds

  • Lie down flat on your back and contract your abs, pulling your belly button towards the floor. Your arms and legs should be held straight out from the body with hands and toes pointed
  • Slowly raise your shoulders and legs from the ground as you keep your lower back in contact with the floor and squeeze your butt
  • Find the lowest position in which you can hold your arms and legs off the floor while keeping the lower back in contact with the floor.

If you need an easier version, try either one of the following options:

  • While keeping your back low on the floor, instead of reaching back with your arms, reach them towards your feet
  • Bend your knees instead of extending them

Pay attention to your form and try and perform each rep with control. Remember to share pictures and videos of your workouts on Instagram or on our Facebook group!

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