Guide to Your First Pull-Up: Part 1 of 5

This week I’m writing about getting your first pull-up. I believe that every human being, regardless of their age, should be able to pull their own body weight from a hanging position to the point where their chin clears the top of a bar.

Because of this belief, I want to equip you with this guide to getting your first pull-up.

Buy Your System

The goal is to get your first pull-up.

But what’s the system in order to achieve that?

Or in other words, what habits do you need in order to eventually reach this goal?

For starters, you need to pull — a lot. I mean, you need to be doing something every day that requires your lats and traps to contract every day.

So, step #1 to getting your first pull-up is to buy a pull-up bar (choose one of these) and hang it somewhere in the house that you will pass at least twice a day (bedroom, closet, bathroom, garage)… The rule is that you have to walk underneath and touch the bottom of it twice a day.

I know you think I’m crazy, but we need to establish this habit.

Step #1: Buy a pull-up bar.

Step #2: Hang your pull-up bar somewhere in your house where you will walk underneath and touch it at least twice a day.

Step #3: Repeat this every day until you breakthrough the plateau of latent potential.

Plateau of Latent Potential

In James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, he explains what the “plateau of latent potential” is with an analogy of an ice cube. Here’s an excerpt from his book:

Imagine that you have an ice cube sitting on the table in front of you. The room is cold and you can see your breath. It is currently twenty‐five degrees. Ever so slowly, the room begins to heat up.

Twenty‐six degrees.



The ice cube is still sitting on the table in front of you. Twenty‐nine degrees.



Still, nothing has happened.

Then, thirty‐two degrees. The ice begins to melt. A one‐degree shift, seemingly no different from the temperature increases before it, has unlocked a huge change.

Breakthrough moments are often the result of many previous actions, which build up the potential required to unleash a major change.

Similarly, habits often appear to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold and unlock a new level of performance. In the early and middle stages of any quest, there is often a Valley of Disappointment. You expect to make progress in a linear fashion and it’s frustrating how ineffective changes can seem during the first days, weeks, and even months.

This is one of the core reasons why it is so hard to build habits that last. People make a few small changes, fail to see a tangible result, and decide to stop. You think, “I’ve been running every day for a month, so why can’t I see any change in my body?” Once this kind of thinking takes over, it’s easy to let good habits fall by the wayside. But in order to make a meaningful difference, habits need to persist long enough to break through this plateau—what I call the Plateau of Latent Potential.

It is not because you have lost your ability to improve, it is because you have not yet crossed the Plateau of Latent Potential. Complaining about not achieving success despite working hard is like complaining about an ice cube not melting when you heated it from twenty‐five to thirty‐one degrees. Your work was not wasted; it is just being stored. All the action happens at thirty‐two degrees.


Step #1: Buy a pull-up bar.

Step #2: Hang your pull-up bar somewhere in your house where you will walk underneath and touch it at least twice a day.

Step #3: Repeat this every day until you breakthrough the plateau of latent potential.

Recognize that when you finally break through the Plateau of Latent Potential, it was because you made it a habit to touch that pull-up bar twice every day. When we can consistently do this every day, steps 4 and beyond will actually be useful.

Step #4: Stay tuned for tomorrow.


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