The Butterfly Pull-up For Beginners

buuterfly pullups for beginners performance plus programming

The Butterfly Pull-up For Beginners

The Butterfly Pull-up is an advanced pull-up variation used by athletes participating in the sport of CrossFit. This movement requires significant strength, mobility, and coordination to perform. CrossFit athletes perform the butterfly pull-up because it allows them to perform more pull-ups in less time, which creates a large benefit in competition. But many athletes fall into the trap of jumping into butterfly pull-ups too quickly without spending the time developing the pre-requisites for this skill.

The video below does a great job showing the strength, mobility, and coordination required to perform butterfly pull-ups with proper form.


The first step in developing the butterfly pull-up is having the right baseline levels of strength.

-Athletes should be able to perform at least five unassisted, behind the neck strict pull-ups with a complete range of motion before they attempt BPUs.


-Athletes should be able to complete at least 20 kipping pull-ups with good form before attempting butterfly pull-ups.

-Finally, athletes need to be able to perform steady & controlled strict butterfly circles as shown in the below video


Shoulder Mobility Needs of the Butterfly Pull-up

While strength, is the most important component to safely performing butterfly pull-ups, mobility is also important. We’ll test your shoulder mobility with the back-to-wall shoulder flexion test.

Sit with your back flat on a wall and legs crossed in front of your body. Hold a PVC pipe with a shoulder-width grip and palms facing down. Lift your arms up with elbows staying completely straight. Can you touch your arms to the wall? Repeat with your palms facing up. If you can’t touch with both versions of this test, addressing shoulder mobility will be important for developing butterfly pull-up technique.


If you fail this shoulder mobility test, check out our Overhead Mobility Overhaul program.

The Best Drills to Learn Butterfly Pull-up Technique

One of our favorite drills for beginners learning butterfly pull-ups is the Box Butterfly Pull-Up Drill. This drill lets athletes slow down and unload the BPU so that they can focus on hitting proper positions. As the technique improves, they can use less leg assistance and increase speed.


The Partner Assisted Butterfly Pull-Up Drill is another fantastic exercise. The partner assist helps athletes feel the pop they must generate to properly BPU.


The Small Circles drill shown in our tests above is another great movement to practice when learning butterfly pull-ups.


Need more help? Our Butterfly Pull-up Training Program is 5 weeks of accessory workouts to help you build the strength and control to finally master butterfly pull-ups. Join Performance Plus to get started on this plan today!


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