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Improving Pullups

i am looking for some advice on improving pullups. when i started doing pull ups 3 months ago i was only able to do 3 good ones. last month i was up to 7 with perfect form, however, i’ve been stuck at 7 for a good month now.

i have tried a few tricks such as doing weighted pull ups (10 pounds) but haven’t seen any improvement yet. do you guys have any advice on improving pullups aside from the weights?

Go heavier on the weighted pullups. Try to tens and then a 25lb plate. Then for your last set go back to bodyweight pull ups. Increased weight will require you to recruit higher threshold motor units.

Meaning increased type II fast twitch fibers. And try to pull yourself up as fast as possible. Actually think of snatch yourself up off the ground. Get explosive with that shit. Find the anger, find the energy.

Heavier weight, and lower reps. Try something like 10x3 with weight.

On the other end of the spectrum, I would recommend setting a goal for a total number of reps for your workout, and doing as many sets as required to reach the goal.

Since you can do 7, I would suggest starting out with a goal like 25 or 30 reps total. Then each week, try to up this number. For example, if 30 is extremely difficult, then next week only try for 31, but if 30 is easy, go for 35.

By the time you reach 50 or 60, you will be able to do more than 7 at a go.

Although I really like adding weight to my pullups, I generally don’t recommend it unless you can already do at least 15 reps.

Another volume option is to try “greasing the groove”.

To do so you would do several submaximal sets throughout the day. Say for instance 4 reps in the morning, 4 at lunch, and 4 at night. Or, depending on your access to a chin-up bar and your available time, you could do more sets throughout the day.

If you have the time try doing a submaximal set once every hour. That will amount to a huge number of pull-ups throughout the day, while at the same time you won’t be exhausted doing them.

A couple words of caution/advice though if you choose to try this program.

  1. don’t do sets of pull-ups close to bed time. This program will really charge up your CNS (basically you’ll feel like you’ve just drank a big cup of coffee after your sets), so falling asleep can be quite difficult if you do sets too late during the day.

  2. Still take at least one day off during the week (or depending on how you feel two), but do this on all other 5-6 days during the week.

  3. Really focus on your form during your reps. This system is designed to make you extremely efficient at the exercises you are using it for. It basically allows you to greatly improve the skill aspect of the exercise(s).

  4. Try to create as much tension as possible. Really squeeze the bar and keep your body tight. This should make it easier to pull yourself up. You could also try doing as Ed suggested and pull yourself up with as much force as possible.

You can also alternate this program with one that involves weighted pull-ups. For instance you could do this program for say 2-3 weeks, then do a week or two of weighted pull-ups (where you’d only do pull-ups 1-2 times per week). This contrast in volume should give your CNS a chance to rest and (if your diet is in order) may bring about some lean mass gains.

Hope this helps.

Good luck and good training,

Sentoguy

[quote]graphicsMan wrote:
On the other end of the spectrum, I would recommend setting a goal for a total number of reps for your workout, and doing as many sets as required to reach the goal.

Since you can do 7, I would suggest starting out with a goal like 25 or 30 reps total. Then each week, try to up this number. For example, if 30 is extremely difficult, then next week only try for 31, but if 30 is easy, go for 35.

By the time you reach 50 or 60, you will be able to do more than 7 at a go.

Although I really like adding weight to my pullups, I generally don’t recommend it unless you can already do at least 15 reps.[/quote]

how much rest time between sets?

[quote]Sentoguy wrote:
Another volume option is to try “greasing the groove”.

To do so you would do several submaximal sets throughout the day. Say for instance 4 reps in the morning, 4 at lunch, and 4 at night. Or, depending on your access to a chin-up bar and your available time, you could do more sets throughout the day.

If you have the time try doing a submaximal set once every hour. That will amount to a huge number of pull-ups throughout the day, while at the same time you won’t be exhausted doing them.

A couple words of caution/advice though if you choose to try this program.

  1. don’t do sets of pull-ups close to bed time. This program will really charge up your CNS (basically you’ll feel like you’ve just drank a big cup of coffee after your sets), so falling asleep can be quite difficult if you do sets too late during the day.

  2. Still take at least one day off during the week (or depending on how you feel two), but do this on all other 5-6 days during the week.

  3. Really focus on your form during your reps. This system is designed to make you extremely efficient at the exercises you are using it for. It basically allows you to greatly improve the skill aspect of the exercise(s).

  4. Try to create as much tension as possible. Really squeeze the bar and keep your body tight. This should make it easier to pull yourself up. You could also try doing as Ed suggested and pull yourself up with as much force as possible.

You can also alternate this program with one that involves weighted pull-ups. For instance you could do this program for say 2-3 weeks, then do a week or two of weighted pull-ups (where you’d only do pull-ups 1-2 times per week). This contrast in volume should give your CNS a chance to rest and (if your diet is in order) may bring about some lean mass gains.

Hope this helps.

Good luck and good training,

Sentoguy[/quote]

Will this result in over training? I have only been doing them on my upper body workout days (twice a week) because I figured I would be overtraining if i did them more often. I have access to chin up bars right near my house so I can do them a couple of times per day. I’ll try this out.

[quote]critter wrote:

Will this result in over training? I have only been doing them on my upper body workout days (twice a week) because I figured I would be overtraining if i did them more often. I have access to chin up bars right near my house so I can do them a couple of times per day. I’ll try this out.[/quote]

Not if you stay well away from failure, make sure to get enough sleep, and only do this program with 1-2 movements (I’d suggest 2, just so that you balance out the strength in the antagonistic muscles). I also wouldn’t suggest doing it for long extended periods. In other words don’t do it for months on end.

I used this method for pistols, planche/front lever progressions, and COC grippers and have had great success with all of those exercises. It is often used for pull-ups and push-ups also, and many people get good results from using it.

It’s not necessarily a great mass building program, more of a strength building program. However, if you only do it for say 10 days straight (like Waterbury’s 30 mass plan, or like Poliquin’s “Super Accumulation” program) and then take 5 days off afterwards (in which time you eat like an elephant and don’t do any resistance training) there is no reason to believe that it couldn’t also add mass.

Hope this helps.

Sentoguy

All the suggestions made on here are valid. From experience I know for a fact boyscouts and graphicsman suggestions works. My favorite being heavy with low reps…doing about 90 to 95 percent of your max one day during the week for 10 sets between 1-3 reps per set akin to what boyscout said. Later on during the week do graphics man suggestion.

This is a good question. I’m glad your asking. A lot of “newbs” don’t want to fight through this phase of developing the strength to do sets of pull ups or chins.

Anyways, i progressed very similar to you. I got stuck on the 7 to 8 rep range. My sets would go 8 reps, then 6, 6, maybe die out on 4 or so on the last set. I made it a priority to increase the intensity on the earlier sets and try to improve my speed when i came in fresh. This worked tremendously. In about a months time (5 - 6 back sessions) i was up to 4 x 8.

Give it a shot. It worked for me.

[quote]jeromeTERRIBLE wrote:
This is a good question. I’m glad your asking. A lot of “newbs” don’t want to fight through this phase of developing the strength to do sets of pull ups or chins.

Anyways, i progressed very similar to you. I got stuck on the 7 to 8 rep range. My sets would go 8 reps, then 6, 6, maybe die out on 4 or so on the last set. I made it a priority to increase the intensity on the earlier sets and try to improve my speed when i came in fresh. This worked tremendously. In about a months time (5 - 6 back sessions) i was up to 4 x 8.

Give it a shot. It worked for me.[/quote]

Yea, well on top of that I have some extra motivation. I have been going to the gym with my 67 year old uncle from time to time. He’s able to whip out a set of 12 chin ups with perfect form, without breaking a sweat. After that he does a few sets of 5 with perfect form as well. So I’m sitting there as a 23 year old guy like, I am getting schooled by this old man. That is PLENTY motivation in itself haha. It’s odd because I have made MAJOR improvements on virtually every other exercise. The chin/pull ups have been my only major problem so far. I’ll keep at it though.

How about doing slow negatives? A change in training stimulus (ie. the way you do pullups) will get you out of that plateau. You can also try swtiching your grip.