Archer Pull Ups - The [SECRET] To Unlocking The One Arm Pull Up?

Archer pull ups are one of those calisthenics exercises that just look cool, but are they worth your time?

In this article we’ll discuss:

  1. Who should be doing Archer Pull Ups – Are archer pull ups actually worth your time?
  2. The BEST piece of equipment to learn and perform archer pull ups
  3. Archer pull ups Vs archer chin ups, which is better and which one should you be doing?
  4. How to do archer pull ups with perfect form!
  5. Archer pull up progressions – How to do your first archer push up?

Let’s begin.

Are Archer Pull Ups Worth Your Time – Pros And Cons Of Archer Pull Ups

Archer pull ups are a unilateral pull up variation that uses one hand as a stabilizer while the other hand does the work.

Archer pull ups work the muscles of the upper back, lats, and biceps of the working arm.

The main reason to be doing archer pull ups, is if you are working towards the one arm pull up.

This means bodyweight calisthenics athletes that are serious about taking their pulling strength to the next level should be doing archer pull ups.

The archer pull up is the stepping stone to performing your first one arm pull up!

Archer pull ups can also be performed by weighted calisthenics athletes who want to work towards a one arm pull up.

Although weighted calisthenics athletes do have the option of skipping this exercise and focusing on increasing their pull up strength.

This is because the resistance from heavy weighted pull ups can be enough to build one arm pulling strength!

As we all know, using an external load when performing calisthenics (aka weighted calisthenics) is far more efficient at building strength than bodyweight calisthenics.

Like all unilateral movements, the problems with archer pull ups are that they:

  1. Take more time to train than regular pull ups. This is due to the fact that you have to do two sets (one for each hand) to train both sides evenly, as opposed to working both hands in one set. And believe me, this can take a lot more time and effort, especially as your workouts get harder.

  2. You will always be able to do more reps with your dominant side than with the other. If you want to keep the “balance” between both arms, you will have to limit the strength of the dominant arm to do even reps with both. So you’re not really making your non-dominant arm as strong as the dominant arm. Instead you’re making the dominant arm as weak as the non-dominant arm. But with unilateral training, there is no other choice. Especially for those doing bodyweight training, unilateral training is a must.

The Best Piece Of Equipment For Archer Pull Ups

The best piece of equipment to practice your archer pull ups are a good pair of gymnastics rings.

Rings allow you to perform the archer pull up in a way that mimics the one arm pull up mechanics better!

This is because at the top, the rings adjust themselves according to the length of your outstretched arm.

Rings also make the regression to archer pull ups – typewriter pull ups better to perform! Thus allowing your typewriter pull ups strength to carryover to archer pull ups.

Rings adapt to your joint movements and make the movement much smoother to perform compared to the bar. Get your hands on a good pair if you’re truly interested on working on your one arm pulling strength!

Archer Pull Ups Vs. Archer Chin Ups – Which Is Better

The age old battle of the pull up vs chin up rages on forever, this time between the archer pull up and the archer chin up.

If you’ve read any of my articles that compare these two movements, I always choose the chin up over the pull up.


The chin up brings more muscle mass into the movement by supinating the wrist – facing the palms toward you. Thus chin ups build your biceps better than pull ups, while still working the back and lats.

Chin ups will almost always be the better exercise to perform, they provide more bang for your buck, thus saving you a lot of time. You don’t have to perform extra sets of biceps curls if you perform chin ups.

When it comes to archer chin ups, the story is the same. Archer chin ups will build your biceps more than archer pull ups and are thus a superior movement.

Bigger biceps will always translate to more pulling strength down the road.

Archer chin ups also provide range of motion than archer pull ups! Thus archer chin ups have the ability to build more muscle than archer pull ups.

Another benefit of learning archer chin ups over archer pull ups is that the archer chin up is easier than the archer pull up. Thus, archer chins are the stepping stone to archer pulls.

Transitioning from archer chins to archer pulls is as easy as switching your palm position. Of course, the archer pull up will is a lot more awkward of a movement to perform.

The bar/ring tends to get in the way of the shoulder when trying to get maximum range of motion.

Combining your archer chin ups with rings allow for more stabilizer muscle activation as well.

So invest in a good pair of rings!

Archer Pull Up Form

Proper form in the archer pull up will get you closer to performing the one arm pull up than if you use improper form.

To perform the perfect archer pull up:

  1. Start from a dead hang position on the rings or bar and take a wide grip. Supinated grip (palms facing you) will work more of the biceps and is the easier movement to execute. But you can also use the probated grip as well. If you cannot perform this exercise from a dead hang, you’re not strong enough yet. Go back and perfect your typewriter pull ups and then come back here and try again.
  2. Whether doing archer pull ups or archer chin ups, your supporting arm must have a pronated grip (palms facing away from you). For archer chin ups, your working arm will be facing you of course.
  3. Before pulling yourself up, depress and retract your shoulder blade and bring your body closer to your working hand.
  4. With the non working hand absolutely straight, pull your body up, making sure to get your chin above the ring/bar.
  5. Then simply lower yourself back to the starting position.

You’ve now done your first archer pull up!

While doing archer pull ups, make sure to:

  1. Keep your chest up. To do this, pinch your shoulder blades together and try placing them in your back pocket!
  2. Keep your non-working arm absolutely straight. Doing so places more force on the working hand, thus making the movement harder to perform. Bending the non working arm engages the musculature of that arm, thus making the movement easier for the working arm. This is cheating the exercise. If you find that your non-working arm is bending, try “pushing” the ring/bar away from you using that arm.

Archer Pull Up Progression – How To Do Your First Archer Pull Up

If you can’t perform archer pull ups yet, don’t worry. Just follow the steps given below and you’ll be doing archer pull ups in no time!

First evaluate your strength. Can you do chest to bar pull ups with both hands?

If you can’t do chest to bar pull ups, work on that first, before attempting any one arm pull up progressions.

Once you can do chest to bar pull ups with good form for reps, move on to the next progression.

Enter the typewriter pull up. Typewriter pull ups are the gateway to performing you first archer pull up.

Typewriter pull ups are an excellent exercise to build one arm pulling strength with static holds at the top.

Once you can perform typewriter pull ups for reps, the next step is to work on archer chin ups!

Archer chins will help build your biceps while building strength to perform your first archer pull up!

Calisthenics isn’t that complicated. In order to progress, you have to master the regression first.

If you’re wondering about how to progress with sets and reps for pull ups, check the article listed below.

Read More: Calisthenics Progression Systems – How To Make Progress With Bodyweight Calisthenics


Archer pull ups are the stepping stone to one arm pull ups.

They are an excellent muscle and strength building exercise for calisthenics enthusiasts wanting to take their pull up game to the next level!

Mastering the archer pull up requires the mastery of typwriter pull ups and archer chin ups first.

Once you’ve mastered these two movements, performing your first archer pull up will be a breeze.

Do your archer pull ups on rings for best results! You’ll be well on your way to doing your first one arm pull up in no time!

Leave a Comment