How Many Pull Ups Should I Be Able To Do?

How Many Pull Ups Should I Be Able To Do? A Complete Guide

Just like push-ups, pull-ups are the second most performed bodyweight exercise there is. Thousands of people every day challenge themselves by trying to beat the previous day’s number. However, many people often ask how many pull-ups should you be able to do? While this generally varies between ages and fitness levels, a few studies are floating around on the internet, based on age, gender, and fitness levels.

So, how many pull-ups should you be able to do as a female or male?

In this article, we help answer that question. We also discuss how many you should be able to do based on your weight and other factors. So, keep reading to find out more and why you should do regular pull-ups in your fitness routine.

What Is A Pull Up?

What Is A Pull Up? A Complete Guide

Even though most people know what a pull-up is, there are still some that haven’t heard of the exercise before.

A pull-up is a strength exercise that focuses on the upper body. It is classed as a closed chain movement. That means the body is suspended by the hands and then pulled upwards. As the body is pulled upwards (towards the bar), the elbows flex and are then brought towards the torso.

It is also called a chin-up in the 1980s, as your chin is brought over the bar when performing a pull-up. However, a chin-up is more related to the position of the hands (supinated hand position) whereas the pull-up is done with a pronated hand position.

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Pull-ups work many of the muscles in the upper body. Some of these include:

Latissimus dorsi – The largest of the upper back muscles. It runs from the middle of the back to under the arm and shoulder blade.

Trapezius – A muscle that runs between your neck and shoulders

Thoracic erector spinae – a group of muscles (3) that run along the thoracic spine

Even though there are different variations of the pull-up, below is a basic way to perform a standard pull-up.

1. Start by standing directly below a horizontal bar and place your hands on the bar with your hands facing away from your body.
2. Either place a box underneath you so you can reach the bar easily, or jump upwards so you can get a grip of the bar.
3. Move your hands until they are slightly more than shoulder-width apart.
4. Engage your core, arm, and back muscles. Then pull yourself towards the bar.
5. Your elbows should bend until your chin is over the bar.
6. Once your chin is over the bar, pause and exhale. Then slowly extend your elbows so your body drops to the starting position.

A few tips:

Try to prevent your legs from swinging as you pull yourself up. Also, try to prevent yourself from shrugging your shoulders.

How Many Pull Ups Should I Be Able To Do?

Since you know how to perform a basic pull-up, how many pull-ups should you be able to do?

Unfortunately, there is a lot of conflicting information around. However, one source provides us with a somewhat accurate number.

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Children aged 6-12 – Kids between 6 to 12 years of age should be able to perform 1-2 repetitions of a pull-up.

Teenagers (13-18) can do slightly more at 4-8 repetitions, while a girl at this age should be able to perform 1-2 pull-ups. However, generally, this number increases with age.

Adults (18+). Unfortunately, there is not much data that shows what an adult should be able to achieve. However, from our research men should be able to perform between 6-8 pull-ups when doing one for the first time. A male that is considered fit or well trained should be able to perform 12-15 reps.

Females (18+) typically should be able to perform between 1-4 and a well-trained female has been known to do about 5-10.

So based on the above data, you should be able to do between 5-10 pull-ups if you are an adult and between 2-8 if you are under 18.

However, it is important to know that the average fitness level of a male and females has slowly declined over recent years. Most people are generally less fit than at the same age 10-15 years ago. Because of that a lot of fitness tests have lowered the number of pull-ups required to pass.

How Many Pull Ups Should I Do To Build Muscle?

How Many Pull Ups Should I Do To Build Muscle?

While a lot of this depends on your fitness level and how many pull-ups you can do, there have been some studies.

Even though this particular study needs more research done, they did find the best number of pull-ups to build muscles is between 7-9. This is of course when using a three-set workout two times a week.

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However, there is a little conflicting data. For example, the military recommends between 25-50 pull-ups a day, which is done through small repetition sets. For example 3×10 or 3×15.

Unfortunately for most people, this is well beyond their limit. So the study above is the most realistic for the general person.

It is important to remember that the body still needs to recover. So, if you are doing this exercise daily, make sure you have at least one day off a week to allow adaption to occur. This way you will see a much faster progression.

How Many Pull Ups Should I Be Able To Do For My Weight

When performing a pull-up, weight plays a big part in how many you can do. Often heavier people struggle to do lots of repetitions unless they have spent countless hours lifting weights.

Strength level an online website for strength-related calculators and training provides a well-researched calculator to help you find out how many pull-ups you should be able to do for your weight. While there are other pull-up weight calculators around, this seems to be the most accurate based on the studies done comparing reps and weight together.


Average Pull Ups By Age Chart

Below is an average pull-up by age chart that can help give you an idea of what you should expect to be able to perform based on your age.

Age Female Male Female Well Trained Male Well Trained
6-12 years 1-2 1-3
13-18 years 1-2 4-8 2-4 8-10
18+ 1-4 6-8 4-6 8-20

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