Explosive Pull Up Back Workouts to Build Strength, Muscle and Protect Against Injury

All of these back workouts contain pull ups and will significantly help you to test and improve your upper body strength, pulling power and general conditioning for functional fitness.


Before we begin, refresh your technique with the kipping pull up.


  • 21-15-9 Reps for Time
  • Squat Snatches (95/65 lb)
  • Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups

Strategy: While many athletes are capable of completing the round of 21 unbroken or close to unbroken, doing so can lead to a major drop off in rounds 2 and 3. Intelligently breaking up the first round similar to how they would the round of 15 will lead to consistency across all sets. Some possible rep schemes for the round of 21 are 7-7-7 / 9-7-5 / 6-5-4-3-2-1. This approach should allow individuals to better get through the round of 15 to come. Athletes can break the rounds of 15 and 9 into 2-3 sets based on how they are feeling. For athletes who are overhead squatting, the goal will be to complete those repetitions close to unbroken. It is ok if they need to break the power snatches a little more to accomplish that goal.

Scaling: These options replace the squat snatch and chest to bar pull-ups:

Option B:
For Time:
Power Snatch (95/65)
Overhead Squats (95/65)

Option C:
For Time:
Power Snatch (75/55)
Overhead Squats (75/55)


For Time

  • 21 Overhead Squats (95/65 lb)
  • 42 Pull-Ups
  • 15 Overhead Squats (95/65 lb)
  • 30 Pull-Ups
  • 9 Overhead Squats (95/65 lb)
  • 18 Pull-Ups

back workoutsSource: Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc


Every 3 minutes For As Long As Possible

From 0:00-3:00, 2 Rounds of:

  • 6 Squat Cleans (135/95 lb)
  • 6 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups

From 3:01-6:00, 2 Rounds of:

  • 7 Squat Cleans (135/95 lb)
  • 9 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups

From 6:01-9:00, 2 Rounds of:

  • 8 Squat Cleans (135/95 lb)
  • 12 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups

Add 1 clean and 3 pull-ups every 3 minutes until you fail to complete both rounds.

Every 3 Minutes on the Minute For As Long As Possible
From 0:00-3:00, 2 Rounds of:
6 Squat Cleans (115/75 lb)

From 3:01-6:00, 2 Rounds of:
7 Squat Cleans (115/75 lb)

From 6:01-9:00, 2 Rounds of:
8 Squat Cleans (135/95 lb)
12 Pull-Ups

Add 1 clean and 3 pull-ups every 3 minutes until you fail to complete both rounds.

Movement Standards

Squat Clean: Hip crease must pass below knee. You may power clean and front squat to complete a rep. You must reach full extension at the top of each rep before the bar may come off your shoulders.

Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups: arms must be fully extended at the bottom of each rep and chest must touch bar, below collar bone, on each rep.


AMRAP in 20 minutes

  • 400 meter Run
  • Max Pull-Ups

Perform a 400 meter run, then complete as many Pull-Ups as possible in a single set (unbroken, meaning a drop from the pull-up bar, touching the ground, or otherwise resting in any position other than a hang counts as a break and the end of the set). Continue immediately to another Run and another max set of Pull-Ups. Repeat until the 20-minutes is up. Score is the total number of Pull-Ups completed before the 20-minute clock stops.


For Time

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 reps of:

  • Strict Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups

1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 reps of:

  • Strict Handstand Push-Ups

Work down from 10 to 1 rep of strict chest-to-bar pull-ups and 1 up to 10 reps of strict handstand push-ups. Don’t move on to the next movement until all reps in the set are complete.


Reduce chest-to-bar pull-ups to chin over bar. If unable to complete pull-ups move to very difficult ring rows as horizontal as possible! If you do not have handstand push-ups yet, do dual dumbbell press at a weight that you cannot do more than 12-15 reps unbroken with fresh. If you have some strict handstand push-ups complete 1 to 5 and then move to push press from there.



4 Round For Time

  • 10 L-Pull-Ups
  • 15 Push-Ups
  • 15 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups
  • 15 Push-Ups
  • 20 Pull-Ups
  • 15 Push-Ups


5 Rounds for Time

  • 9 Thrusters (95/65 lb)
  • 9 Pull-Ups

back workoutsSource: German Throwdown


For Time

  • 50 Pistols
  • 25 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups
  • 40 Pistols
  • 20 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups
  • 30 Pistols
  • 15 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups
  • 20 Pistols
  • 10 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups
  • 10 Pistols
  • 5 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups

This workout is scored by time to complete the descending couplet.


For Time
50 Box-Assisted Pistols
25 Pull-Ups
40 Box-Assisted Pistols
20 Pull-Ups
30 Box-Assisted Pistols
15 Pull-Ups
20 Box-Assisted Pistols
10 Pull-Ups
10 Box-Assisted Pistols

For Time
50 Banded Pistols
25 Ring Rows
40 Banded Pistols
20 Ring Rows
30 Banded Pistols
15 Ring Rows
20 Banded Pistols
10 Ring Rows
10 Banded Pistols
Ring Rows


12-9-6-3 Reps For Time

  • Squat Cleans (155/105 lb)
  • Weighted Pull-Ups (45/25 lb)


For Time

  • 30 Pull-Ups
  • 30 Burpees
  • 20 Pull-Ups
  • 20 Burpees
  • 10 Pull-Ups
  • 10 Burpees

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