The Ultimate Pull-Up Program is a progressive training system created for pull-up break-through and progression for those stuck in a plateau or even unable to perform a single pull-up.
Created by a woman, it was originally focused on a female clientele simply because women seem to have more trouble than men in mastering the pull-up.
However, the method of the program works very well for men too. This is a plan which is the result of 14 years of expertise in pull-ups and workouts by someone who had to start over again as a result of a serious accident.
Despite the name, the program is also a solid full body training system, as the shoulders blades, trapezius, rhomboid, deltoids, core, glutes and even legs participate in the pull-up lift to stabilize and make the movement more efficient.
The program is not just about lats and biceps, though of course these are the primary movers, but also about technique and overall body strength in order to use all muscles involved in the pull-up as a chain, making it possible to increase reps and personal bests regularly, with good form too.
In this investigation you’ll find out what this program is all about, its pros and cons, and what it can do for you.
Who Is This Program For?
The Ultimate Pull-Up Program is a plan that benefits anyone. Not just women stuck with the pull-up, but also men who want to overcome plateaus and increase reps and strength.
It is also ideal for those who want an all-round training plan that targets all important muscle groups, even though the emphasis is on the pull-up.
Another big bonus is that this training system is almost gear-free, all you need is a bar, or a stool to get there at the start when you cannot pull yourself up quite yet.
If you have one of those bars you can assemble in a door frame, you are good to go at home, no need for a gym unless you want to.
This program is also ideal for those looking for an effective progression training blueprint that can be done with just your own bodyweight and a bar, anywhere, even in a park or while traveling.
You should also read our Pull Up Queen review.
Ultimate Pull-Up Program Overview
The Ultimate Pull-Up Program is a blueprint originally intended for women to improve their pull-up abilities, which also happens to work just as well for men.
While the ficus of the program is on pull-ups, the training regimen necessary to get there also involves working out the whole body, particularly the core.
So it may be considered a full body workout plan with an emphasis on pull-ups. The pull-up is to the upper body what the squat or dead-lift is to the lower body.
It is the king of upper body exercises, being a compound, multi joint movement that involves the vast majority of upper body muscles at the same time.
The ability to perform many pull-ups with good form is a strong indicator of your upper body levels of strength. The author makes the point that pull-ups performed in the program are real ones, that is without any kipping as in cross-fit.
No help whatsoever should be used in helping yourself up the bar and instead you should strive for the shortest possible route or vertical plain with no swinging but stabilizing your body with your core, glutes and legs.
Meghan Callaway noticed how difficult this particular exercises can be for women, possibly because they tend to over emphasize legs and other parts, neglecting upper body for too long.
In any case, the routines necessary to improve strength and technique for the pull-up do not consist of just endless repetition with assistance machines, lats pulldown machines or bands.
They involves different stages targeting different body parts that all assist for the final pull-up movement. This is a plan based on a sound method that requires patience and persistence.
This method has also been used successfully by many regular men and athletes to improve their pull-up abilities and break through plateaus. So it is a universal program for everyone who wants to get their chin up the bar and progress from there.
How does it work?
The program works by targeting all the different muscle groups involved by deconstructing the pull-up movement and focusing on them step by step.
All these muscles are targeted during the different phases with isometric and isotonic exercises to compensate for weaknesses and strengthen your body all over.
The plan consists of a 150-plus page master program with very detailed text explanations on how to perform every exercise, photo, and clear video of each exercise.
The Perfect Pull-Up Technique
According to the plan, the are different aspect involved in the perfect pull-up. These are:
The Grip – Grip should be neutral at shoulder width with your palms facing forward (pronated grip), which is the most natural and biomechanically sound stance, equivalent to a military press up. But you can also use a narrow neutral grip for variation, but not supinate, as it places too much stress on biceps, limiting your ability to develop a strong back.
The Core Muscles And Glutes – Front abs, obliques, glutes and lower back all participate in stabilizing your body as you go up and down, keeping it straight in a vertical line without unnecessary swinging. This will make your movement more efficient, as the travel path will be shorter and smoother using up less energy. No kipping allowed.
The Concentric And Eccentric Parts – The plan breaks down how to properly execute the ascending and descending part of the pull-up. Your start the pull-up by pulling down your shoulder blades first and pull yourself up by focusing on your elbows going down to the floor with your chest up. Then lower yourself all the way down to the last inch of range smoothly, without dropping and bouncing to avoid unnecessary stress on your joints.
Body Position – Your body should be straight from head to feet all the way, no hunching or flaring.
Leg Stability – The pull-ups can be done either with straight or bent legs, but should always be kept in place by contracting your glutes and leg muscles.
Traditional Useless Back Exercises For The Pull-Up
What this program is NOT about is some of the most common exercises performed in the gym that add little value, if at all, to improving the pull-up and progression.
Lat Pull-Downs – This movement greatly reduces the range of motion and fails to engage rhomboid, traps and ancillary muscles effectively. No progression is possible with this exercise.
Band-Assisted Pull-Ups – Elastic bands provide excessive assistance at the bottom of the pull-up, where elastic tension is greatest, which is exactly where you should have the least assistance, as the pull-up becomes more difficult toward the top and not in the bottom position.
Machine Assisted Pull-Ups – This time the assistance is regular through the range of motion, but the problem is that you the machine does not let you engage your core, glutes and back. It does all the job for you, it assists you too much and no progression is possible.
Bodyweight Australian Pull-Ups – This exercise is useful for your back, traps and rear delts and it has its time and place, but is not specific enough for the pull-up, according to the author.
However we think this is unfair and beg to differ. Rowing movements like the Australian pull-up do strengthen your lats, traps and rhomboid, helping improve the top portion of a pull-up, the most difficult, so they do have carry over effect.
The 4 Phases Of The Ultimate Pull-Up Program
The program is flexible in that each phase can last 4-8 weeks depending on your results and progression.
Phase 1: The Basics (4 to 8 weeks)
This phase focuses on basic hangs and other basic exercises to build the necessary foundation. Here are few exercises used in this phase:
Basic Hangs – For many people it is difficult to just hang off a bar, let alone perform a pull-up. These hangs should be practiced until you are able to hold your grip on the bar for 30 to 60 seconds.
Concentric Hangs – This exercise if for those who cannot do a pull-up quite yet, so the task is to hang from the top position rather than from the bottom as per the basic hangs. You can reach the top position from a chair and just hang there with your shoulder blades depressed and your core and glutes engaged.
Inverted Pull-Pps on Bar, Rings or Straps – This is actually similar to an Australian pull-up, but milder. As you progress, you can lower your body closer to the ground to make the exercise more difficult. This is a transitional movement to pull-ups.
Hollow Body Holds – This is a core exercise. You just lay on the floor and extend your legs and arms in the air in a hollow position and hold it there to make your core work.
Glutes Bridges – Lie on your back on the floor, then move your lower leg vertical to the floor, queeze your glutes and push your hips off the floor.
Phase 2: Progression Exercises (4 to 8 weeks)
This phase focuses on the concentric and eccentric parts of the pull-up movement.
Negative Pull-Ups – Jump to the top position of the bar or climb there from a chair and then lower yourself down slowly.
Concentric Pull-Ups – If you are unable to to one, jump to help lift your own bodyweight with some momentum to perform the pull-up, then lower yourself down.
Scapular Pull-Ups – This is a shrugging exercise for your shoulder blades to strengthen your rhomboid and trapezius. You just retract and contract your shoulder blades from a dead-hang position without bending your arms.
Ab Wheel Rollouts – An isolation exercise for your lats and back that deeply involves your core too. Just make sure to keep your body straight for maximum effectiveness, and not hunched.
Phase 3: Pull-Up Mastering(8 to 16 weeks)
Once all the basics are covered and your grip, core, back and shoulder blades you can start the long climb to progression.
Pull-Up – The core of the program and what is all about. Just keep going for as long as it takes with proper form and the foundational strength and skills you learned in the first 2 phases. Reps and numbers will increase with time.
Phase 4: Pull-Up Progressions (No Time Limit)
These are advanced variation of the regular pull-up that easily slot into advanced calisthenics.
Towel Pull-Ups – A regular pull-up performed with two towels hanging from the bar to further strengthen your grip. The towels add instability to the movement, making it more difficult not just for your lats and biceps but also your core, back and glutes.
Narrow Grip Pull-Ups – These are bar variations of the standard pull-up that place more emphasis on your arms and pecs.
Weighted Pull-Ups – The author suggests not to perform weighted pull-ups before you can perform at least 10 normal pull-ups. And for a good reason, as you should not let your ego spoil good form, which will only result in plateaus down the line.
Single Arm Pull-Ups – The author describes these as single arms pull-ups but they are really more like assisted single hand pull-ups, where you grip your leading forearm with the other arms so the stress is more on one arm, but not completely removed from the assisting arm.
Real single arm pull-ups are those where you pull yourself up completely with just one arm while the other arm is completely free, the holy grail of pull-ups. Still, the assisted one hand pull-up is the transition exercise between the two and a very advanced and challenging movement in itself.
Advanced Calisthenics Pull-Ups – This is were bodyweight exercises meet gymnastics as you start performing all sort of fancy stuff like air-climbing with your legs while doing pull-ups. It requires super-strong core.
The Ultimate Pull-Up Program Benefits
This is a well structured, organized plan that leaves no room for error. It is methodical and systematic in its approach, as it is the result of years of practice of an athlete and author experienced in the field.
The main benefit of this plan is that it will put a stop to wasting time for those people who tried before to improve their pull-up skills to no avail.
The program breaks down all the components that make up a perfect pull-up, like strength, technique and muscles involves, and build them up individually before they can be employed together.
It is as near as it gets to a fail-proof plan, because all aspects of the pull-up are analyzed and addressed properly, helping you to progress systematically in performance up to and beyond simple pull-ups.
Because of the progressive method used and the attention dedicated to core, back glutes, legsl trapezius, lats, rhomboid and arms, it is also an “almost” full bodyweight workout plan.
You could use this program as an addition to your regular program if you are stuck with pull-ups, but you would need to scale down on abs and core as the Ultimate Pull-up Program already offers excellent core training.
Or, you could use it as the main program either stand alone or with the addition of just squat or bench press for legs and chest for a more complete body workout system.
What Makes The Ultimate Pull-Up Program Different?
The Ultimate Pull-Up is unique in that while it offers the ability to do what it says, pull-ups, it also turns out to be a complete bodyweight workout protocol that requires almost no equipment and no gym membership.
It targets strength, grip, core, back, glutes and arms and can be used as a standalone program by women and men.
Who Is Meghan Callaway?
Meghan Callaway is highly regarded strength coach from Vancouver, Canada. She is a competitive athlete for over 25 years and has over 14 years of experience in coaching a wide range of clients, like regular guys and gals, top athletes and post-rehab people who need a strength training protocol.
As for her personal academic achievements, she has a degree in Human Kinetics from the University of British Columbia. She is also an American Council on Exercise certified personal trainer since 2003 and a certified sports nutrition advisor through the Cory Holly Institute in Vancouver.
Meghan Callaway has always been into sports even before becoming a coach, having competed in baseball, ice hockey and particularly soccer.
However, the turning point in her life was a terrible car accident at 28 of age that left her with several physical impairments for more than 5 years.
During these years she had many ups and downs without really managing to fully recover, until eventually she succeeded in breaking through her setbacks and overcoming her problems to become the athlete she is today, thanks to her persistence and motivation.
Aside from being a strength coach, Meghan Callaway is also a blogger and a writer with expertise, guess it, on strength training, she runs her own website and has a vast media presence with account on Facebook, Instagram, twitter and YouTube.
Without a doubt, Meghan Callaway knows her stuff and is well qualified to help people become stronger and fitter.
What’s In The Program?
The Ultimate Pull-Up is a digital program in PFD format. This are no hard copies available as of now. Upon payment, you get a download link to the main manual that you can view from your smartphone or PC. Aside from the four phases of the main program, there is also a bonus included: “The Eleven Best Pull-up Variations for Continued Progress”.
The Ultimate Pull-Up Program by Meghan Callaway is a very effective and well organized training method that does what it says on the tin.
Though the main focus of the program is ultimately on the pull-ups, the workout system designed to get there also targets all major muscle groups that come into assistance for the pull-up, like the front abs, the obliques, the lower back, the glutes, the trapezius and the rhomboid, aside of course from lats and and arms.
Despite the name, it is a complete workout protocol that can be used by men and women to improve their pulling abilities on the bar and also strengthen their whole body in the process.
Alternative Pull-Up Programs
There has been an increase of pull-up plans in recent times precisely to cover the need for women and men to master this demanding exercise.
Another such program is Neghar Fonooni’s Pull-Up Queen program of which you can read the review here on FitnessBond.
Is is structured in a bit different way, but still shares the progression and dedication method necessary for mastering the pull-up. You can read the review here.