T Nation

HP Mass Program and Pull-up Performance


Hello, CT, first off, I am terribly sorry if a similar question has been already asked, but I went through some rigorous searching to see if anybody asked this question before, and even checked out most of the livespills on the HP Mass articles and I decided to post the question myself.

I have recently started HP Mass program and I'm into my fourth week, and I'm already starting to enjoy some minimal strength gains.

What I've always been fixated on however, is increasing my pull up reps, but I never committed myself to pull up specialisation programs before because I also wanted to have balanced growth in all of my body parts.

So I was wondering if I can tweak the program in some way to increase my pull up reps while also continuing to have balanced strength/mass gains in other parts of the body too.

What do you think of replacing the staggered traps/rhomboids exercises with low-rep pull ups to reach 20~30 reps on upper body pressing days?

Also, I just read your older article, "Keep your Chin up", and saw that you had chin up negatives as part of the program. I'm a little confused because you emphasise the importance of eccentric-less work in lat work in order to minimise CNS fatigue. Is doing negative chins acceptable when trying to increase the reps or is that still a no-go?

So, to sum up my questions,

  1. How can I (Or can I) tweak the HP Mass program to boost my pull-up reps?

  2. If such modifications are acceptable, what do you think of replacing staggered traps/rhomboids work with low-rep pull up sets to reach 20~30 reps total?

  3. Are negative chin ups effective in increasing pull up reps, or will they be detrimental in long-term due to the CNS fatigue they may cause?

Thanks in advance for your reply, CT!



I think CT has indirectly addressed your question through various livespills, training lab, and forum posts. In short, pullup training can certainly be incorporated into the program. For example, CT has his mma client do multiple sets of submaximal chins throughout the day, everyday. Obviously your capacity to recover from this will determine how much volume and how close to failure you get. General rule of thumb being as many as possible without affecting your performance in the HP mass workouts the next day. This should address question #1.

As an aside, it seems that CT feels that for optimal back development, the "hold and squeeze" is crucial; if you can't perform these sufficiently with chins then, at least from the perspecive of lat development, they may not be the ideal main movement in your lat foundation day workout.

Regarding replacing traps/rhomboids/mid back work with pullups, CT has specifically delineated between lat work and "supporting back musculature" work. The latter should be worked in tandem with your upper body pressing muscles to promote shoulder health, etc. Chins/lat work in general is done on the "foundation day' which is SEPARATE from the upper back/shoulder supporting musculature work. So I think he advices not to replace traps/rhomboid/mid back training with lat work and vice versa as they serve different and important functions. This should address #2.

Regarding question #3 about negative chins, I think CT would ask what your primary emphasis would be. Obviously, negative chins have been used with much success to increase pullups (particularly for those who couldn't do many bodyweight pullups to begin with). The HP mass performance is not a pullup specialization program and such principles as eccentricless training to minimize CNS fatigue are outlined by CT as a way of increasing volume/stimulation without exceeding one's capacity to recover...to serve the purpose of BULIDING muscle. I imagine if your primary goal is to just improve pullup performance, then doing submaximal repwork daily or several times a week as outlined above would be an ok "addition" to the program. Most pull up specialization programs I've seen focus on submaximal work daily or seveal times a day (e.g. as outlined above) rather than heavy eccentric emphasis. You could probably do negatives on your lat/bi foundation day if you really wanted to.

Since I also love pullups I'll share what I've been doing. I can do about 35 chins strict form before failure so I like to do sets of 10-15 pullups throughout my workout with a fast, somewhat loose form and certainly no emphasis on the eccentric. I treat these as additional volume and fun; they dont really affect my performance. I usually stagger them in between my upper body pressing and my supporting musculature work. Throughout the rest of the day, I bang out several sets of pullups at home, never to failure.

Hope this helps and someone feel free to clarify if I missed something.


Thank you so much for your reply, Sigil! Your answer really helped a lot.

I just have another question about the several sets of pull ups you do at home. Are those also in 10-15 rep range, or more but just not to failure? Also, do you personally do pull-ups everyday?


No prob at all. Yep, I do sets of 10-15 typically (I don't really count; they're not to failure) at home and I do them every day. I would say I hit around 50-100 each day total outside the gym on non lats/back days.