# Calculating Weighted Pull-Ups

#1

My program has me doing weighted chin ups at 70/80/90% of my 1RM. It has been working well, but I'm currently at a point where I am unable to complete a 3x5 at 80%. I can get 3-4 reps but don't have the strength to do the last one unless I jump off the bar and rest for a bit.

My question: should I calculate my chins using 80% of my total load or the attached load? In my case my 1RM is 110kg - 66kg bodyweight + 44kg attached. I've been using the method where I calculate off the attached load, so 70/80/90% of 44kg, but I think at these weights it's not scaling well. My concern with basing it off the total load is that I don't think I'd have enough of a training stimulus - at 70% I'd only be lifting an additional 11kg for 3x5 (70%*110kg - BW), which doesn't really feel like much.

#2

Rather than going off a definitive percentage and number, I would go off how well the weight literally feels. If you can use an objective mind to gauge whether or not a weight is effective given the rep range or goal, I feel this would be more beneficial for something like pull-ups. Record your weights and make adjustments as necessary. I strongly feel 70/80/90% should be looked at as guidelines here to give you a ballpark, rather than law on your training weights.

#3

You calculate from total load. So 80% is 88kg-bw=22kg. If it doesn’t feel heavy enough, compensate with acceleration.

You are controlling the negative, right?

#4

[quote]Evolv wrote:
Rather than going off a definitive percentage and number, I would go off how well the weight literally feels. If you can use an objective mind to gauge whether or not a weight is effective given the rep range or goal, I feel this would be more beneficial for something like pull-ups. Record your weights and make adjustments as necessary. I strongly feel 70/80/90% should be looked at as guidelines here to give you a ballpark, rather than law on your training weights.[/quote]

During my last cycle the percentages worked pretty well, but I occasionally took off 1-2kg if I was finding it difficult. The only issue I had was adjusting for changes in my bodyweight (this is one exercise where you have to factor in if you’ve had a heavy breakfast). 9 weeks ago I was at +38kg added at 62kg bodyweight so I have made some good progress, but now this method doesn’t seem to work very well for whatever reason.

I’m controlling my negative as much as I can and doing almost full ROM (I stay tight at the bottom instead of in a full dead hang unless I’m testing my max). I can try basing it off total load and making the reps more explosive, but would that be more effective than just taking a few kg off my max and calculating it from that number (like a training max)?

#5

i agree with evolv post
i saw an article way back that said percentages started because new guy asks old guy how much weight should i use old guy says a weight u can do x number of reps
new guy asks how much is weight is that
old guy creates percentages
its just a guideline, simplifies how much weight to use

#6

I think rep ranges work better then 1RM percentages.
% of 1RM offers no leeway so if you’re feeling a little off your workout will suck as you will never hit the required reps and will go to failure too early making subsequent sets futile.

Training to a rep max of a given weight is also a much better way of training. In this case you can regulate how hard you can push. Not feeling too strong. Fine use lower weight and just try and hit reps.

This is a Westside Barbell way of doing things and it make sense.

#7

[quote]Iron Condor wrote:

I’m controlling my negative as much as I can and doing almost full ROM (I stay tight at the bottom instead of in a full dead hang unless I’m testing my max). I can try basing it off total load and making the reps more explosive, but would that be more effective than just taking a few kg off my max and calculating it from that number (like a training max)?[/quote]
Yes, leaving a little weight off and making the reps more explosive with a longer eccentric will be more effective than grinding through reps.

I’m in favor of, and have always gotten the best results from, starting a progression too light and adding weight slowly even if I could add it quicker. But if we’re going to obsess about numbers, let’s do it right:

Your max is +44 or 110 total. 80% of 110 is 88. 80% of 44 is 35, which adds up to 101; over 90% of 1RM. That’s a big difference. If you left off 10 kilos and calculated off of that, you’d still come up with 85% of total (93).

Typically, 90% is 3RM, 85% is 5RM, and 80% is 8RM (roughly). You’re not going to get 3x5 out of 90% or even 85% (if you can get 1x5 with 90%, then it’s not 90%. You need to recalculate your max).

The numbers come from decades of trial and error, and are backed up with scientific findings. It’s not just some old guy pulling numbers out of his ass.

Getting to the nitty-gritty of things: the way reps are performed makes an enormous difference. Pulling explosively, all the way up until your chest touches the bar, and then tightly controlling the negative (not slow, but slightly longer than the time it took you to get up there), and without pausing between reps, is much harder than just barely pulling your chin over the bar, flopping back down, resting five seconds, and pulling back up. It’s also a hell of a lot more effective in building the musculature you’re targeting.

#8

[quote]Angus1 wrote:
I think rep ranges work better then 1RM percentages.
% of 1RM offers no leeway so if you’re feeling a little off your workout will suck as you will never hit the required reps and will go to failure too early making subsequent sets futile.

Training to a rep max of a given weight is also a much better way of training. In this case you can regulate how hard you can push. Not feeling too strong. Fine use lower weight and just try and hit reps.

This is a Westside Barbell way of doing things and it make sense. [/quote]

This makes sense, and I might experiment with that method down the track. I’m happy with my current program and my other lifts are fine with this structure, only the chin ups have been problematic.

#9

[quote]JayPierce wrote:

[quote]Iron Condor wrote:

I’m controlling my negative as much as I can and doing almost full ROM (I stay tight at the bottom instead of in a full dead hang unless I’m testing my max). I can try basing it off total load and making the reps more explosive, but would that be more effective than just taking a few kg off my max and calculating it from that number (like a training max)?[/quote]
Yes, leaving a little weight off and making the reps more explosive with a longer eccentric will be more effective than grinding through reps.

I’m in favor of, and have always gotten the best results from, starting a progression too light and adding weight slowly even if I could add it quicker. But if we’re going to obsess about numbers, let’s do it right:

Your max is +44 or 110 total. 80% of 110 is 88. 80% of 44 is 35, which adds up to 101; over 90% of 1RM. That’s a big difference. If you left off 10 kilos and calculated off of that, you’d still come up with 85% of total (93).

Typically, 90% is 3RM, 85% is 5RM, and 80% is 8RM (roughly). You’re not going to get 3x5 out of 90% or even 85% (if you can get 1x5 with 90%, then it’s not 90%. You need to recalculate your max).

The numbers come from decades of trial and error, and are backed up with scientific findings. It’s not just some old guy pulling numbers out of his ass.

Getting to the nitty-gritty of things: the way reps are performed makes an enormous difference. Pulling explosively, all the way up until your chest touches the bar, and then tightly controlling the negative (not slow, but slightly longer than the time it took you to get up there), and without pausing between reps, is much harder than just barely pulling your chin over the bar, flopping back down, resting five seconds, and pulling back up. It’s also a hell of a lot more effective in building the musculature you’re targeting. [/quote]

You’ve convinced me. I started using the % of total load method today and will trial it for a month to see how it goes. It was +22.5kg attached today and I focused on exploding up and coming down slowly.

Related question: what accessory work can I do to improve weighted chin ups?

#10

[/quote]

Related question: what accessory work can I do to improve weighted chin ups?[/quote]

kroc rows,
also sacrilege to some but every 4th week just do machines ie lat pulldowns, hammer high rows, -will save your joints and the variety will cause new stimulation

#11

I’m limited on equipment, so I just use lat pulls and single-arm lat pulls. Any vertical pulling motion will do.

My favorite is single-arm. I sit sideways with the working arm toward the stack, lean into the weight until the cable is crossing right in front of my face, and try to squeeze my elbow into my back pocket. I do sets of 12. Between each set, I let the weight pull my arm up into a lat stretch, and lean into the stack. Best lat contraction and stretch I’ve ever felt.

I’ve also used these, without the stretches, as a warmup for rows, and it really helps me feel my lats working while I row.

#12

I don’t have access to a lat pulldown machine unfortunately. I train in a martial arts gym and we don’t have any machines, just free weights and Crossfit type stuff. Kroc rows look good though, I could add that in as a finisher.