T Nation

Increase Pulling Volume?



My main sport is paddling outrigger canoe (over 3000 km this year) and dragon boat. Currently starting the off-season which will run until April. Goal is to increase strength and add a few lbs of mass by then.

I’ve been running 5/3/1 BBB for 1 cycle now. Also read through the Forever book. I plan to run another BBB cycle, then PR sets + FSL anchor and then I’ll move to Pervertor.

My question is this: my sport requires a lot of pulling strength. I have already been supersetting pullups (weighted or BW) between all my main lifts. I can do 25 BW pullups so sets of 12-15 aren’t taxing much. Looking in the book, assistance for BBB would be push/pull 25-50 reps and single leg/core 0-50 reps. I’m already doing more than the pulling volume recommended but 25-50 reps alone doesn’t seem enough for my needs. Could I possibly replace the push assistance with a 2nd pull assistance on some days? That way the volume doesn’t increase too much… Would something like this work? I really want to stay as close as possible to the prescribed program, just need more pulling than pushing. I don’t have issues recovering from pullups even on back to back days and it’s not affecting negatively my main lifts.

SS weighted pullups (8x10)
Bench pull/seal row (50 reps)
Single leg (0-50 reps)

DL 5’s PRO + FSL 5x5
SS inverted row (100 reps)
DB shoulder press (50 reps)
Abs (50 reps)

Bench 5’s PRO + BBB
SS DB row (50 reps)
Pullups weighted or BW (50 reps)
KB swings (0-50 reps)

Squat 5’s PRO + BBB
SS BW pullups (100 reps)
DB bench (50 reps)
Abs (50 reps)

Thanks for any advice!


I think you’ll get a bunch less carryover than you expect. I reckon you’ll be better off pulling a prowler/sled.


What do you mean by getting less carryover? I’ve been doing rows and pullups for over 20 years, it’s definitely helping me with paddling these past few years. I just switched to 5/3/1 because I think the simplicity of it is perfect. No prowler/sled to use at my gym unfortunately, and I’m not sure it would give a better carryover as most of the power for paddling comes from upper body and core with legs supporting.


PS: I’m a 36 y-o female, not that it should matter with respect to weight training.


Have you used renegade rows? I have occasionally used them as a main exercise though they would be secondary or assistance in 531. Also Zercher squats are great for core and upper back strength. Could easily be used to replace squats or dead’s (or both). Also Christian Thibadeau’s sweeping band deadlifts seem to be an ideal exercise for paddling strength.



Renegade rows sound good! Would combine horizontal pulling with pressing and core, nice way to get all assistance done at once. I did some many years ago and completely forgot about them. I’ll keep zercher squats and sweeping DL in mind but for now I think I’d rather bring up my standard squat and DL.



Alright, got it down to almost the prescribed numbers.

Weighted pullups 100 reps
DB bench 25-50
Single leg 0-50

DL 5’s PRO + FSL 5x5
Abs 50
Bench pull 25-50
Press 25-50

Bench 5’s PRO + BBB
BW pullups 100 reps
DB press 25-50
KB swings 0-50

Squat 5’s PRO + BBB
Abs 50
DB row 25-50
Press 25-50

Thanks guys.


Give it a go and see if it helps you stay all. Wendler does mention that the rep ranges are just a guideline. In cases like this you’re free to increase it, especially if you feel it might benefit your sport or athletic activity. It’s the easiest way to find out.