T Nation

Achieving Pull Up Mastery (And Hopefully Building Some Lats!)


#1

After Csulli posted a vid showing quite a badass feat of pull upness, it's made me hungry to get my numbers up to ludicrous. Right now I've a decent weighted max, in my opinion, but I suck at volume.

Also, my lats are a permanent weakness of mine so I figure some Waterbury-esque high frequency training couldn't hurt.

My question is how would you guys program it? I figure the different ways to do it are:

  1. Have a set number of reps that you'd try and hit over the course of each day, and not worry too much about how you split them up? Do this separate to your usual workout.

  2. Start and/or finish each workout with pull ups.

  3. Superset all your lifts with pull ups

I'm also wondering whether I would have this as my only vertical pull, and on pull/back workouts just train horizontal pulls. Supersetting all my horizontal pulls with pull ups makes me think I'd just have a sucky performance on both, but maybe not.

I'm leaning towards option 3.

And I realise that this is a "try it and see"-type situation but I'm just curious as to how y'all'd approach it.


#2

And if anyone mentions the bent press I will unleash violent hatred so powerful it will melt the soul of every human on the planet


#3

Choose any grip you like, it won’t change the efficacy of the program.


#4

Have you tried that exercise where you clean a loaded barbell to the shoulder with one arm, bend your torso under it while extending your arm until it’s locked out, then stand upright with the weight stlll locked out overhead? I can’t remember what’s called but I hear it does wonders for the lats.


#5

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

Choose any grip you like, it won’t change the efficacy of the program.[/quote]

cool, man. Thanks for posting that. Not sure I’ll do that program as there’s a phase where you’re doing them weighted and I’ve been doign weighted chins for so long I’m going to take some time off them and just concentrate on bodyweight.

Seems to correspond to option 1 that I’d considered so that’s something to consider


#6

[quote]dt79 wrote:
Have you tried that exercise where you clean a loaded barbell to the shoulder with one arm, bend your torso under it while extending your arm until it’s locked out, then stand upright with the weight stlll locked out overhead? I can’t remember what’s called but I hear it does wonders for the lats.[/quote]

you dirty bastard


#7

[quote]Yogi wrote:

[quote]dt79 wrote:
Have you tried that exercise where you clean a loaded barbell to the shoulder with one arm, bend your torso under it while extending your arm until it’s locked out, then stand upright with the weight stlll locked out overhead? I can’t remember what’s called but I hear it does wonders for the lats.[/quote]

you dirty bastard[/quote]

Hahaha sorry I couldn’t resist it.

Okok seriously, this is what I’ve done though it may not be much of value since I’ve never placed any emphasis on pull ups.

  1. Frequency. When I stopped training years ago, I would use something like Pavel’s Ladder workout or whatever it’s called 2 months before my yearly reservist physical fitness test. I would do this 2-3 times a day and go from around 2 reps to 12 in that timeframe. Note that during this period I was completely untrained, travelling constantly and entertaining clients in smoke filled KTV lounges drinking hard liquor at least 5 days a week.

  2. Getting stronger. I do not do pull ups in my normal workouts but I put a lot of emphasis on strength progression even on the pulldown machine. I train back once a week. During my last physical fitness test I managed to do 22 reps. I am around 40lbs heavier than when I wasn’t training.

Regarding your lat development, how do you do your lat exercises? Do you attempt to pull the bar in an arc(like the pullover machine) or do you pull it towards you?


#8

Aye I hadn’t considered ladders for my daily pull ups, that’s a good shout.

Funny you should mention the pulldown machine, as I can actually totally dominate pulldowns, but for some reason I suck at pull ups. I can get high reps at a much higher weight than my bodyweight, but when it comes to pull ups I get to 12 and I’m done. I have no idea why that’d be the case, but this is one of the reasons I want to dedicate the time to pull ups. There’s obviously some weakness or imbalance somewhere so I want to get it fixed.

As for my lat development, it isn’t actually that bad, and I have a good MMC with my lats (and back in general). It’s just that my lats insert really high so they need to come up a bit to be on par with someone with better insertions.

It’s the curse of the high lat insertions and tiny clavicles! I need girth everywhere, and I do mean everywhere


#9

Ah ok. Then you just have to get them fucking big lol. High frequency pull ups would probably benefit you most.


#10

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

Choose any grip you like, it won’t change the efficacy of the program.[/quote]

I second this suggestiion. I did it Jan 2014, and did nearly 1500 weighted pullups in the 4 weeks. ( all with 35 lb). I just had a dumbbell by the pullup bar downstairs and almost every time I passed it leaving, I would do 10 pullups holding the weight between my ankles. Do that 5 days per week. On the 6th, do the 5 minute test. rest the 7th, and start over.


#11

[quote]dt79 wrote:
Ah ok. Then you just have to get them fucking big lol. High frequency pull ups would probably benefit you most.[/quote]

ja, that was my thinking. Give me 12 weeks and I’ll need to rub butter on myself to squeeze through doors


#12

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

Choose any grip you like, it won’t change the efficacy of the program.[/quote]
I second this suggestiion. I did it Jan 2014, and did nearly 1500 weighted pullups in the 4 weeks. ( all with 35 lb). I just had a dumbbell by the pullup bar downstairs and almost every time I passed it leaving, I would do 10 pullups holding the weight between my ankles. Do that 5 days per week. On the 6th, do the 5 minute test. rest the 7th, and start over. [/quote]

jesus that’s a lot of pull ups! Hmm, maybe I will try that program after all


#13

[quote]Yogi wrote:

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

Choose any grip you like, it won’t change the efficacy of the program.[/quote]
I second this suggestiion. I did it Jan 2014, and did nearly 1500 weighted pullups in the 4 weeks. ( all with 35 lb). I just had a dumbbell by the pullup bar downstairs and almost every time I passed it leaving, I would do 10 pullups holding the weight between my ankles. Do that 5 days per week. On the 6th, do the 5 minute test. rest the 7th, and start over. [/quote]

jesus that’s a lot of pull ups! Hmm, maybe I will try that program after all[/quote]
I also got the added benefit of adding a half inch to my arms. Most they ever grew in a short period.


#14

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:

[quote]Yogi wrote:

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

Choose any grip you like, it won’t change the efficacy of the program.[/quote]
I second this suggestiion. I did it Jan 2014, and did nearly 1500 weighted pullups in the 4 weeks. ( all with 35 lb). I just had a dumbbell by the pullup bar downstairs and almost every time I passed it leaving, I would do 10 pullups holding the weight between my ankles. Do that 5 days per week. On the 6th, do the 5 minute test. rest the 7th, and start over. [/quote]

jesus that’s a lot of pull ups! Hmm, maybe I will try that program after all[/quote]
I also got the added benefit of adding a half inch to my arms. Most they ever grew in a short period. [/quote]

If you had the option, would you use rings for these instead of a bar?


#15

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:

[quote]Yogi wrote:

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

Choose any grip you like, it won’t change the efficacy of the program.[/quote]
I second this suggestiion. I did it Jan 2014, and did nearly 1500 weighted pullups in the 4 weeks. ( all with 35 lb). I just had a dumbbell by the pullup bar downstairs and almost every time I passed it leaving, I would do 10 pullups holding the weight between my ankles. Do that 5 days per week. On the 6th, do the 5 minute test. rest the 7th, and start over. [/quote]

jesus that’s a lot of pull ups! Hmm, maybe I will try that program after all[/quote]
I also got the added benefit of adding a half inch to my arms. Most they ever grew in a short period. [/quote]

If you had the option, would you use rings for these instead of a bar?[/quote]
With rings, you will tend to do more neutral grip or supinated grip. With the bar, you have to choose which you want from the beginning. Now I have a door pullup device and do at lest half my pullups neutral grip as my shoulders and elbows like that more.


#16

In terms of building the lats, have you tried rack chins? they’re pretty awesome


#17

Do a search for the armstrong pullup program.

I haven’t done it, but it’s geared at helping military guys get their volume up.


#18

There is also this, more of a longterm volume approach: https://www.T-Nation.com/training/new-high-frequency-training

I did the Shugart “chin-up project” routine last summer, and while I wouldn’t NOT recommend it, I personally didn’t see much progress (I completed the program, but didn’t get much better at chinups or add 1/2 an inch to my arms). That might have been because I was already pretty good at chins when I started, though, and should have added weight the way Ecchastang did.

The best progress I ever made re: chins, without even consciously trying to, was a combination of 2 and 3, above. I’d basically just do 5-8 sets over the course of every workout, a few reps below failure. So I’d do a set when i first got in the gym, do another while warming up the first main lift, another right before the second main lift, etc, and one last set right before leaving. Basically staggered, but not between every set of every lift, so you aren’t accumulating much fatigue. This might be a good approach if you don’t want to alter your regular lifting routine very much.


#19

Another one to give you some ideas of a daily type program


#20

Whatever routine you follow to get your numbers up, just remember you have to maintain your new work capacity somehow. Pullup numbers drop so fast once you stop doing them consistently; the guys that are best at them always have them in their routine