Pull-Ups: The #1 Exercise for the Urban Explorer


Why Pull-Ups?

Marines require pull-ups in boot camp.

Gymnasts start with pull-ups to build base strength.

Rock climbers live the pull-up.


Some back story before we jump into talking about pull-ups and the importance of vertical pulling strength.

When I was younger, I was thin.

I remember weighting in at 140lb freshman year of high school at 6’1.

Who knows what I weighted before then.

Only athletic advantage there was to being skinny…

it made pull-ups and distance running easier.

First time trying to do a pull-up was at local athletic fundraising event, and I remember jumping up to the bar to do a couple half-rep imitations of pull-ups, while kipping.

I began training pull-ups as conditioning for Parkour.

Parkour athletes have some of the most impressive vertical puling strength and many parkour movements require it, primarily the climb-up.

I watched videos of Teghead doing chin-ups with weight strapped to his waist on youtube.

Pull ups are an amazing exercise for forearm, bicep, shoulder and lat development.

Due to their strength development and versatility:

Pull-Ups are a must do for any Adventurer or Urban Explorer.

I will never forget the rooftop views I was able to experience due to being able to do pull-ups.


The thing about Pull-ups is – they are hard.

Not only physically hard, but mentally hard as well.

You have to start with hanging.

Just hang on the bar for a few seconds.

Keep your shoulders engaged, stay strong through the core.

Step two is: Negative Reps.

Jump up to the top of the pull-up and lower yourself down slowly.

The higher your body-weight, the more difficult this will be.

While practicing negatives, add in some body-weight rows, to help you get the feel for contracting the lats and biceps.

Where? Pull-ups can be done almost anywhere. Staircases, trees, ledges, pipes, etc.

Anything strong enough to hold your body-weight, you can use.

Among street workout folk, swing sets and monkey bars are popular.

First part of the Pull-Up is the Grip.

Grip the bar as tightly as you can. Chalk helps on some bars, however only makes metal bars slippery.

You will develop calluses while training pull-ups, and unless you are thorough about removing them:

You will eventually tear one.

You may be hanging, swinging, doing pull-ups, and one will rip…

It’s not a big deal, and may sting a bit, and you can’t hang around on stuff for a few day.

The rips are quick to heal.

The Second part of the pull up is Momentum.

For optimum training effect, go slow.

Don’t kick or swing.

Kipping and swinging is great for powerful movements such as the lache, however for training, best to focus on the muscle groups at work.


A base workout for someone looking to do some easy buildering, tunneling or tree climbing would be:

5 reps x 4 sets

Five reps will build strength, four sets won’t leave you burned out.

Rest as long as you need between sets.

I rest between 2 to 10 minutes.

This isn’t a circuit, we’re training strength.

Quality muscle contraction, and good form is more important than burn.

A good base is being able to do:

10 reps x 2 sets

After this add a little weight and reduce the reps.

To add weight I prefer a lashing strap around the waist, and loop it through some weight plates.

You can just hold a dumbbell or a kettlebell with your legs.

I’ve seen people use bricks and rocks.

There’s really no way around pull ups if you hope to run around on rooftops…

so master them.

All the Best.



P.S. Mind your elbows and shoulders while training.

Pull ups are hard on both.

If you feel a pain in the elbow, rest for a few days.

Low and slow is best in the long term.

Train not strain.

Shoulder pain can also develop. Doing some shoulder rehab exercises with bands will help.

If you feel pain, don’t push through it with pull-ups.

Just reduce your training frequency and volume for a while.