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Major Misty Posey, center, demonstrates proper form for pull-ups to Marines at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, Feb. 19, 2016. Posey teaches a pull-up class at the James Wesley Marsh Center at MCB Quantico to improve the performance and capabilities of Marines for pull-ups according to Marine Corps fitness standards. Posey is a plans officer for Manpower Integration.

Photo by Sgt. Dylan Bowyer

Zero to Twenty-plus: Marine develops program to improve pull-ups

25 Feb 2016 | Sgt. Dylan Bowyer The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

“I haven’t met someone yet who I haven’t been able to train to do a pull-up.”

Major Misty Posey, the plans officer for Manpower Integration, developed a pull-up training program to help all Marines improve their pull-ups no matter their starting point, and says she has yet to find a Marine she has not been able to help.  

Posey, who teaches a pull-up class at the James Wesley Marsh Center at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, says it does not take a great deal of time to get a Marine from zero pull-ups to many.

“It does not take months and months and months to learn a pull-up; it does not take a year or two to learn a pull-up. It’s nonsense,” Posey said.  

When Posey was a Midshipman in Navy ROTC, she trained on the obstacle course at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. The Midshipmen would navigate the course in preparation for Officer Candidate School.

“I’m four feet, 10 inches. I couldn’t reach the top of many of the obstacles let alone pull myself over them,” she said. “My [physical training] instructor didn’t care that I was short. He said, ‘Figure it out, Posey.’ So I had the need to do a pull-up and I had the expectation to get myself over the obstacles. That’s what started me on my pull-up journey.”

Posey's class 'on how to learn a pull-up' features four main exercises: partner-assisted, negative, jumping, and partial-range-of-motion pull-ups. Alongside these exercises, Posey explains how to engage certain muscles to help perform a pull-up.

For Marines who can already do pull-ups, she recommends doing a lot of pull-ups several days a week and stopping short of failure.

“If you can’t do a pull-up, do pull-up progressions, vertical pull-type exercises on a pull-up bar without any equipment,” said Posey. “Ditch the pull-up assist machines and the bands. Not to say they are useless, but they don’t train the motor-pattern of the pull-up as well as your own body-weight and gravity. Exercises like ring-rows and push-ups are similar.  They help, but the Marine is horizontal instead of vertical. Also, any time you spend on them is time you could spend on a pull-up bar.” 

The tips might seem overly simple and you might doubt that they work because it seems too easy, but just because a problem may seem big or impossible it doesn’t mean that the solution has to be complex.”

Posey’s pull-up plan was highlighted during Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller’s most recent town hall event in the National Capital Region, Feb. 12.

Her advice to all Marines, no matter their age, rank or gender is everyone can be successful at pull-ups.

“If you are struggling with either learning or improving your pull-ups, the main take-a-way would be that you are stronger than you think,” Posey said. “You can absolutely learn to do and improve pull-ups in a relatively short amount of time; you just need the right tools to develop and access your strength.”

To view Posey’s full pull-up plan, visit the links below. 

The secret to pull-ups: How to go from 0 to 20

Pull-up training program novice

Pull-up Workouts

Pull-up Training Guide

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