T Nation

Best Way for More Reps on Bodyweight Exercises?


If you’re only goal was to increase reps in the pistol squat / pushup / pullup, how would you approach it? Grease the Groove? 3 sets, 3x per week? 20 sets to failure 1x/week? Combination of some styles?


Three times a week, five sets per work-out, one to two reps shy of failure per set I think would be about optimal.


I’ve outlined on here before how I increased my pull-up numbers. Long story short: do lots of them, mix the grip up. Job done. I have no experience with the other two movements but I would assume, especially the more technical pistol squat, the same approach would work.


Doing heavier, low rep sets of dips, pushups, and pulllups have brought up my bodyweight number of reps considerably without doing many (if any regularly) bodyweight only sets.


For sure. Just start banging out pull-ups whenever you can. One other thing that helped me was using a really thick bar. Fat Gripz would probably work well, too. Do that for a month or two then jump up on a normal bar and knock out a set. It’s surprising the difference it makes.


Tons of Ladders not to failure…


I have found EMOM or density work to be very effective.

So lets say I can do 15 pullups unbroken. A good place to start is about 30-40% of that, so let’s say 5 reps. Do one set of 5 reps every minute for 10 minutes. Increase that number slowly, maybe the next workout do 5 sets at 6 reps, and 5 sets at 5 reps, etc.

When you get to where you can no longer increase the reps, drop back down a bit 1-2 reps per set and look to increase density. So do 1 set every 55 seconds, then next workout 1 set every 50 seconds, etc.

You could even use both of these progressions at the same time or even incorporate all movements together. If you put them all into 1 emom you could likely start at closer to 50% of max reps so something like this.

30 minutes
1st Mminute - 7 pullups (if max is 15)
2nd minute - 15 pushups (if max is 30)
3rd minute - 10 pistols (if max is 20)

And again just try to increase reps systematically overtime a little at a time. I would think 2 times a week would be sufficient, 3 times at the most but I would make sure to mix up densities and what methods you use each workout if you choose 3 times per week.


+1 for ladders.

I have to do a fitness test every year at work, including chin ups (changed to pull ups a couple years ago) and dips (changed to push ups). The passing standards are pretty low, but years ago, I used to train specifically for the test to try and get my name up on the record board (the top three scores each year for every category were put on a plaque and hung on the wall. These plaques went back about 20 years.)

The most chin ups I ever did was 46 (strict, no kipping allowed) and dips was up around 60.

My training for the test was pretty simple. Starting about 4-6 weeks out, I would change my training to just the exercises used in the test and train them using a ladder, well a pyramid actually. For chins, I would do 1, rest for 10 seconds, do 2, rest 10 sec, do 3, rest, etc. Once I got to a number I didn’t think I could beat, I would go back down. I also used several different grips, normal grip, close grip, behind the neck and commando pull ups.

For dips, I would do the same technique, but go up and down by 2s. Same for push ups, using normal, close grip, wide grip, and dive bomber.

Usually, the first week, I would do this maybe 3 times per week, but by the end, I was doing it 4-5 times per week. I would also do a set to failure to start and end the workout. Each day I would try to beat the previous failure set by at least a rep and, if possible, more.

This training method works extremely well and fast, and each year I would go from about 20 - 40+ chins in about 4-6 weeks. A serious word of caution, though, doing extremely high volume chins and dips like this wreaks havoc on shoulders and it would take me a couple weeks of no chins/dips and shoulder friendly movements to get them proper again - which is why I only did this for 4-6 weeks each year.


Just realized this thread is from April…last year. I suck.


I wouldn’t worry, the advice is good and I’m sure it will help someone out!


Did you win?


Sure did :slight_smile: I got up on the board three or four years in a row, basically every year I trained for it. It’s been awhile, though. It doesn’t get you anything and a couple years ago they switched from putting the top individuals on the board to the top squads. Maybe I’ll try it again one of these years just to see how close I can get to when I was younger.



If you try to match or beat your previous PRs, I’d be curious for an update. For example, did you use the same program or did you modify it…?

The reason I ask is because one of my goals for 2017 is to do 100 push ups with 50% of bw as extra weight. So 100 reps with 100lbs on my back. And the model I designed differs significantly.

I re-read the Dan John article mentioned in this thread and I’m not sold ladders are optimal for hitting rep PRs.

However, if this method is working for you, I’m open to re-examining my current views.