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Alternative to weighted pullups

Made some good progress with weighted pullups during the past six weeks but I have lost some stregnth during the past 2 weeks. Besides rows, what would be an alternative to pullups to widen the lats for a couple weeks?

Stick with the pull-ups. There is no real replacement. Instead of trying to find a new exercise, try some periodization with rep ranges, grip width, maybe do a few weeks of underhand grip pull-ups (chins). I think pull-ups are one of the staple exercises to always have around, but I have been known to drop them for a couple of weeks in favor of pull-downs just for convenience/laziness.

Dumbell pullovers, a la Ian King’s super strength series.

Here’s a personal invention you may not have tried. Hang from a bar, pronated, wider than shoulder width. Now slowly lift your torso, arms straight, until you have to bend your knees to clear the bar and your head nears the ground. Try 5250 tempo for 15 reps. Keep good form. If you can’t handle a straight torso, bend at the waist initially.

And of course, any of 15 pullup permutations fit the bill. Vary the grips, vary the rest, vary the tempos. Try 60 second pronated reps. Attempt to pull the bar just below your pecs.

Check out Poliquin’s gymnast back-building routines.

Supersets, drop sets to failure, and pre-exhaustion will push you farther. Just how much pain can you handle?


I’ll second the pullover recommendation. There are many varieties of pullups and chinups, so you really can use them in your training year-round.

Thanks guys! Good stuff!

Hey guys, quick question along these lines. About four weeks ago I separated my right shoulder. While I’m back to about 85% pain free ROM (95% total ROM), I’m having a hell of a time getting my weights back up - pull-ups/chins and dips being hit hardest. I just can’t do them with BW anymore, so I’ve moved to the assist machine. Would you recommend I work back up to full strength that way or is there another way that would be better?


I think that you’re much better off with the assisted machine than with pulldowns. You might also consider adding some negative work, too.

You should be alot further along than that. See an ART specialist who knows how to use accupuncture. I went from not being able to sleep at night to holding girls over my head in two days with that therapy.

“I went from not being able to sleep at night to holding girls over my head in two days with that therapy.”

Do you frequently hold girls over your head? I hope you are talking about daughters or something or else you have a far more exciting life than I.

Karma, I second what EC said. Take it slow and as easy as you need to. No sense rushing things just to get yourself set back again. And as a general rule, any exercise that causes pain should be avoided until it doesn’t.

That said, if you can find an ART guy around you should probably check it out (if you haven’t already). Might speed things up for you.

Good luck.

EK, Goldberg is our friendly circus freak, frequently holding juggling midgets over his head for fun.

It’s either that, or he’s a big mofo of a cheerleader.

i was a cheerleader.

Karma, while you’re healing and taking all the good advice you’ve gotten, I’d recommend that you give some attention to the nutritional aspects of things as well. It is possible to support and even speed up the healing process.

Along with a good multi (if you’re not talking it already), and some flaxseed or fish oil (a natural anti-inflammatory), I’d recommend higher levels of Vitamins C & E and alpha lipoic acid to quench higher levels of free radicals normally associated with an inflammatory response.

A good proteolytic enzyme complex like Wobenzyme at 5-10 tablets 3 times per day would help with protein turnover, healing and repair.

I’d also recommend supplementing with MSM. MSM assists in maintenance and repair of tissue, helping to prevent or recover from injury.

Additionally (and finally), I’d recommend some glucosamine sulphate. Glucosamine sulphate is produced naturally in the body in cartilage tissue where it aids in the formation and maintenance of healthy joints. Glucosamine also plays an important role in the formation of tendons, bones and ligaments contributing significantly to the strength and integrity of the joint structure as a whole.

Good luck to you!!!

Thanks for the response!

EC, Goldberg & Char: I thought about starting each set with negatives and then finishing on the assisted, just hadn’t done it. Guess I will now. Yeah, I know. I’m a puss. I should be juggling midgets too by now dammit! :wink: At 5’2", I don’t quite have the size advantage you guys do though… Will look for an ART guy and see how that goes.

Tampa-Terry: I was hoping to hear from you! Thanks for the nutritional info. Currently, I am taking a good multi, 4g fish oil, 2g C, 6g bromelain (just never got out of the habit I guess). About the E, ALA, MSM and glucosamine sulfate - what dosage would you recommend? And should I drop the bromelain (a protease enzyme) in favor of the proteolytics (Wobenzyme)? Same thing? Different things? Counteract eachother?

Hi, Karma. Your choices look pretty darn good.

You could take the Vitamin C a little bit higher while you’re healing and then go back down to 2g/day. Try getting 1g in every time you take eat a meal, up to 6 times a day.

Pick up the fish oil to 6g while you’re healing. When I say “while you’re healing,” I’m probably envisioning 3 to 4 months.

The bromelain was (and is) an awesome choice. Continue taking it at that dosage ALONG WITH Wobenzyme. Do a search on the 'Net. There are 800 tablet bottles in the $89 range. Wobenzyme is a German formula with a lot of research validating its effectivenes with sports injuries. It has a number of proteolytic enzymes, of which bromelain is one. Take it at the dosage I recommended (with maybe even a fourth dosage before bed). It needs to be taken on an “empty” stomach; i.e., 2 hours after a meal or an hour before a meal. If you eat every three hours, that will work out perfectly, but you’ll probably need a timer.

MSM, I’d probably try a dosage of 5g two or three times a day. Don’t take the last dosage too late at night or you won’t be able to sleep. I would recommend that you start off at 2g x 3 for Day 1, 3g x 3 for Day 2, 4g x 3 for Day and 5g x 3 for Dav 5. Increasing the dosage like that pretty much assures you won’t experience any gastric upset. MSM will help with pain, inflammation and healing. It’s great stuff.

Vitamin E, take 800 IUs a day; one time a day is fine.

ALA is a universal antioxidant. It regenerates/recycles Vitamin C and Vitamin E. It’s popular here on T-Mag as a glucose disposal agent, but that’s not the reason I’m recommending it. 100mg three times a day should work well for you.

Glucosamine sulfate should be taken at a little higher than the average dose. I’d recommend 1g three times a day. You’ll see glucosamine in osteoarthritis formulas, but it’s good for sports injuries as well. Glucosamine provides the raw material needed by the body to manufacture a mucopolysaccharide (called glycosaminoglycan) found in cartilage. Plan on taking the glucosamine for the full 3 or 4 months, even if you’re starting to feel better.

One last thing you might throw into your diet for the time being is Fresh Ginger tea. Grate some fresh ginger, about 1 tablespoon per 16 ounces of water, brought to a slow boil (5 minutes). Sweeten with honey or the sweetneer of your choice. Add a little fresh mint and milk if you like. It’s a “spicy” drink, but a great natural anti-inflammatory, and quite tasty once you get used to it.

Okay, Karma. That’s 'bout it. Take it easy on that poor shoulder of yours. Give it a chance to heal properly. Remember good or bad, you’re stuck with that shoulder.

And, as always, if you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask. (grin) Take care, girl!!!

TT, hon, you rock! Thanks!

Thanks, Karma!!!

I just had one last thought. I’ve been studying Hypertrophy Specific Training (HST) by Bryan Haycock. He has you do a 2-week 15-rep cycle, a 2 week 10-rep cycle, a 2-week 5-rep cycle, and a 2-week negative cycle. The reason for the 15-rep cycle is to generate high levels of lactic acid, which according to him strengthens ligments, tendons and the probably the joints. In other words it’s a preparatory cycle to prevent injuries. It’s an approach that might help you to rehab and strengthen your shoulder and allow you to keep working out.

What’s really important is that you spend 2 weeks (6 workouts) working up to your 15-rep max. The focus is on form, control and building those lactic acid levels. After 2 weeks you hit your 15-rep max (which you’ve previously tested for).

Are any of you exercise physiologists out there able to add to or confirm (or even contradict) my statments above?

So, it’s been decided; Goldberg as a “big mofo of a cheerleader” and is now just a big mofo. :slight_smile:

Can I also add that after the 5x5 program, my pullups improved dramatically. I can now perform 3-bodyweight sets with ease. I will be following another 5x5 program in the very near future, and I expect my weighted pullups to improve again.

I agree with Tampa-Terry about HST training.

Starting HST with light 15 reps are a great time
to heal joints and tendons. This rep range
should help you strengthen your shoulder and
get ready for heavier weights the next week.

I was going to an ART specialist for my right
shoulder and left elbow tendon and after 3 HST
cycles I no long use ART or lift with joint pain.

Hope it works for you too.


I think that it’s an excellent observation, but I’m not sure that theory should drive practice in this instance.

The initial 15-rep phase is really not that much different than the preparatory phase in a traditional periodization model (preparatory, first transition, competition, second transition/active rest). The primary goal of the preparatory phase is to establish a base level of conditioning and gradually increase work capacity as you prepare for more intense training. That’s all well and good, as they assume that this phase is either following a) no training (new to training) or b) the active rest/non-training phase from the previous macrocyle. In other words, either way, the individual entering the preparatory phase has had time to rest and take care of any nagging injuries.

Given that karma’s injury is one of trauma - not overuse - this is something that could be effective. As far as it being appropriate for tendonitis and the like, it’s highly unlikely. Why in the world would we treat an overuse injury with more volume?