Negative Pull-up

The negative pull-up involves performing only the lowering phase of the exercise, and is a popular technique when building strength for full pull-ups.

Primary Muscle Back
Secondary Muscle(s) Biceps
Difficulty Beginner
Also known as Pull-up negatives, Decent-only pull-ups
Optional Rings, Pull-up Bar

How to do Negative Pull-ups

  1. Grip an overhead bar or rings and get into the top most position of the pull-up exercise (see flexed arm hang position - arms flexed and chin above the bar). Use a partner or bench to help get into position if you're not strong enough. 
  2. Slowly lower yourself down, taking as much time as possible, into the dead hang position (arms fully extended). 
  3. Get back to the starting position and repeat the process.


  • Keep the negative pull-up movement slow and controlled.
  • Engage the upper body muscles to create tension throughout the exercise.  

Negative Pull-ups Guide

Negative pull-ups are a popular progression exercise used to help develop strength for the full pull-up.

The exercise involves only performing the lowering phase (eccentric portion) of the standard pull-up, starting in the upper position (the flex hang) and moving slowly into the lowered position (the dead hang). This portion of the exercise is less difficult than the pulling phase (in part because you're working with gravity and not against it) and will help develop the muscles and skills necessary for progressing to the full movement. 

You can use resistance bands to help train this movement if required, but ultimately you need to be able to do this without them. Use bands to support your body weight if a lack of strength is causing you to drop too quickly and you can't control the descent - simply pass the fitness band over the bar and back through itself then you can put your feet or knees into the hanging loop to help support some of your weight. 

Pull-ups Progression Exercises

The progression path for learning pull-ups is recommended as - 

  1. Dead hangs
  2. Flex hangs
  3. Negative pull-ups
  4. Body rows
  5. Pull-ups!

Once you're performing controlled negative pull-ups of ten seconds or longer you can begin body rows, or try for full pull-up training.


Always consult your GP before undertaking any form of weight loss, fitness or exercise.