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What is a Good Number of Pull-Ups?

author image Warren Rosenberg
A professor of allied health science and member of the American College of Sports Medicine, Warren Rosenberg has been writing since 1979 on topics including health and fitness. His works include the college textbooks "Exercise Science" and "Integrated Science." As a professional photographer, he provides photographs to textbook publishers, magazines and websites. He holds a Ph.D. from New York University.
What is a Good Number of Pull-Ups?
What is a good number of pullups to be able to do? Photo Credit GaudiLab/iStock/Getty Images

Your overall level of physical fitness encompasses a variety of characteristics, including your muscular endurance, muscular strength, musculoskeletal flexibility and cardiorespiratory endurance. Your muscular endurance level is reflected in the number of consecutive contractions you can perform while your muscles are under load. One common way of assessing this is by determining the number of consecutive pullups that you can perform.

Pullup Exercise

The pullup is performed by grasping a horizontal bar with your hands, palms facing forward and shoulder-width apart, and lifting your body so that your chin rises above the level of the bar. Gradually lower yourself back to the starting position, with your arms fully extended, and you have completed one pullup.

President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Assessment

According to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, the average adult should be able to perform between 10 and 15 modified pullups. At the lower end, the ability to perform 10 modified pullups would indicate a borderline level of fitness while the ability to complete 15 or more would indicate a good fitness level.

Candidate Fitness Assessment

The Candidate Fitness Assessment is used to determine the physical fitness level of candidates seeking to enter the U.S. military services. According to the CFA, the average number of pullups performed by men is nine and by women is three. Men who are able to perform 18 consecutive pullups and women who can perform seven are considered to possess a high level of fitness.

Muscles Used in the Pullup

The pullup is both an excellent exercise and a method for assessing your muscular endurance because it uses so many muscles. Among the muscles used in performing a pullup are the latissiumus dorsi and trapezius muscles of your back, pectoralis muscles of your chest, the deltoids of your shoulders, and the biceps and triceps of your arms.

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