the magic pill to reaching your fitness goals

Chin or Pull Ups: Do you want to do one? Or, does it seem like that is just one of those movements you can leave for the others at your gym?


I know what you’re thinking. Never. Well, not the way we teach them at Fitness on the Run. We have (5) varieties from the most modified to, for many, the most challenging method. We are convinced, shoulder injury notwithstanding, every single person who walks through our doors can achieve this. Maybe it is even that “magic pill” to reaching your fitness goals. Doing one, will change the nature of your training program. Guaranteed. It will focus on strength, core activation and mobility and get you stronger than you can imagine. Oh yes, and you’ll feel better in your clothes.

Ready to get started? We are here to introduce you to the (5) variations:

Each of these examples are illustrated with a fairly high box. The higher the step/”box”, the lower the box the more challenging the movement will be for the first two examples.


1) Box or Step Pull up or Chin up
Find a box or step where you can easily reach the bar with a good elbow bend. Hand placement is approximately shoulder distance apart and palms facing you. Get into the “plank position”. Every muscle in your body is tight and you “lock down” your shoulders (pull them into the shoulder girdle/push your shoulders into your ribcage/squeeze the armpits together). Squeeze your glutes which will activate your core. Suck in your breath into your nose, and as you begin to ascend, explosively breathe out through your nose.

Using one leg on a step (the higher the step/’box”, the more help you get.) Push yourself as little as possible with your leg and “draw” yourself to the bar. Most experts agree throat to the bar is best. But take it as high as you can “feel it” in your core. Look straight ahead (and not up) so you will not strain your neck.

2) Box or Step Jump Pull up or Chin up
Get into that plank position on the box with both feet on the box and hands palms “back” shoulder distance apart. Repeat all of the steps above except use both legs to jump to the bar. Look straight ahead (yet know where the bar is for safety). Use as much leg as necessary to reach the throat. Remember to squeeze your ribcage with your elbow both ascending AND descending. And don’t lose the “plank position” we describe above. This makes this a core movement and uses the core instead of too many of your shoulder muscles.


3) Assisted Pull up or Chin up with a Band
You can purchase a band designed for various body weights and fitness levels from several online fitness gear companies. Email us for our favorites and we can help you choose the correct band.

You will need someone to help you step into the strap. Place your hands facing you shoulder distance apart. Use the back of your foot and push hard “heel first” until the leg is fully extended and completely squeezed. Step off of your box and “lock down,” or plank your body. Tighten everything as described above in #1.

Follow the same cues described above: breath in through your nose, looking straight ahead explosively breath out through your mouth and ascend. You may get to a locked down position and feel as if you haven’t moved at all. Trust me: your core is working. Eventually, you will be able to start to pull yourself.


4) Unassisted Pull up or Chin up
This is literally the same as the band pull or chin up. You are simply ascending without help


5) Weighted Pull up or Chin up
When you are ready, let us know if you can complete a weighted pull up and we will offer you a free 1-1 session so we can see it and give you a huge “high 5”!

We can design a pull up program for you if you would like. Depending on your fitness level, you can count on completing your first unassisted pull or chin up in about 6 months. The journey is worth it. Your core will get strong and you will learn to use your breathing to the greatest advantage for your training. Perhaps it will change the way you approach your fitness.

  • The latest from Adrien
Adrien founded Fitness on the Run in 2004 out of her home after a successful career in policy and public affairs communications. After spending 15 years developing her own personal definition of wellness and watching thousands struggle with theirs, in January 2019 Adrien founded Alexandria Wellness, the home for the Concierge Wellness Program and Corporate Wellness with Adrien Cotton. Over the course of 15 years, “FOR” was home to more than 2,000 clients, 30 instructors, and hundreds of inspirational success stories. Adrien is now, more-than-ever, passionate about helping women view their fitness as a journey, not a quick fix. Adrien’s recipe for success herself has evolved from a rigid training plan of sweaty and heart pumping workouts to some days getting in her 10,000 steps, consciously breathing, her 7.5 hours of sleep, and her beloved 5-Minute Flow. Adrien believes the most important ingredient is making small changes for big results, even if it’s one new habit formed each month. Still passionate about fitness, Adrien’s clients appreciate her ability to make sessions seriously challenging without a “beat down,” a healthy mix of strength and metabolic (cardio) work and ultimately helping her clients gain real strength in mind and body. She believes we all benefit from being curious about our bodies and that change, or improvement, is within reach despite what your “inner voice” or others may tell you. Adrien is bubbling with excitement to help women learn the importance of a comprehensive approach to wellness, weight loss, and contentedness with yourself, and that every person has the right to feel good about themselves. Most days, you can find her helping clients with their wellness, listening to success stories, and bragging about her twin 13-year-old children and “fittest man in Alexandria” Bill Cotton. Adrien prides herself on her practice of mindfulness, meditation, and putting it all into perspective.

Alexandria Wellness offers achievable answers for anyone who is tired of chasing fitness and health without a clear plan, someone who has struggled and is not satisfied with their fitness and wellness or someone who is open to maximized healthful longevity and fitness along with healthful weight loss. Adrien and her team offer help with food guidance, body acceptance, sleep and stress issues, and insist you have fun along the way.

Schedule your free 30 minute consult here!

Alexandria Wellness
215 North Payne Street
Alexandria, VA 22314



1 Comment

  1. […] We’ve gone through the five progressions of pull ups with you earlier this week (see them here). […]

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