I appreciate the reply. I believe I should have been more specific with some parts of my post.
This is how I currently approach the pull-up and variations with regards to form and technique:
-Clench butt cheeks
-Stiff legs, squeeze quads
-Lightly brace abs
-Head looking straight ahead
-Arms fully extended/elbows locked at the bottom position
-From a “loose deadhang” position (i.e scapula fully elevated or “shoulders to ears”), I lightly retract and depress my scapula (i.e. scapula to “backpocket”) such that my chest is slightly puffed out. This is how I assume my bottom position.
-I initiate the pull by thinking, “bend the bar”, “hands are hooks”, and “elbows down”. I say “bend the bar” because I’ve found that my arms tend to rotate inward whenever I pull with an overhand grip.
-I hold the bar with a thumbless grip whenever I perform overhand pull-ups
-In order to achieve full ROM, I pull until my clavicles are in-line with the bar. Other external cues I’ve applied to ensure that I achieve full ROM include 1) pull until you can’t flex your arms anymore, 2) pull until your hands are by your delts
-I hold the top position for about 1-3 seconds
-I lower myself with control, but I’ve never been particular about how long I should do the eccentric phase.
-I lower until my arms are fully extended. I do not reset into a loose dead hang or “shoulder to ears” position.
(I’ve recently been introduced to Ido Portal’s material, and he actually recommends fully resetting into a loose dead hang in between repetitions. He also emphasizes active scapular retraction and depression to engage the upper back more–his version almost looks like a mini front lever of sorts. Are you aware of his approach to the pull-up, and have you ever applied it in your training?)
With regards to the large discrepancy between my pull-up and dip numbers:
I knew someone was going to bring this up sooner or later, and I appreciate that you pointed this out. I actually approached Armstrong differently in terms of pushing exercises. At week 1 I was adamant about completing 3 sets to failure every morning, but after going through Mike Robertson, Eric Cressey, and Ryan Hurst’s (Gold Medal Bodies) material, I realized that I hadn’t been performing a proper push-up. So I spent the remainder of the program doing casual sets of 10, making sure to 1) clench my buttcheeks to posteriorly rotate my pelvis, and 2) active protract my scapula at the top position. To be honest, I didn’t look to improve my push-up/dip strength these last few weeks. I persisted with regular push-ups for the sake of complementing the amount of pulls I was doing on a daily basis and more importantly for practice. I think this explains why pushing numbers don’t look particularly impressive in relation to my pull numbers.
To that end, I feel like I’ve been practicing the Chaturanga Dandasana to some degree, and I also thank you for making this pose aware to me.
I’ve been also slowly developing the habit of doing some form of shoulder/upper back mobility drills everyday. Right now I live on a diet of band pull-aparts, shoulder dislocates with a dowel, and dead-hangs for time.
I hope this post cleared up some of the questions you had about my pull-up numbers. What did a typical training day look like?
God bless you brotha, it’s very apparent that you have done your research.
And thank you for mentioning Ido Portal! I just did a google search and I am glad to know there are others who share a similar training mentality. To be quite honest, I sometimes even felt self conscious being the only person around me to use 90% calisthenics to achieve my goals. For this, I’ve been accused of being on gear (because that’s the only way he could be strong, they thought).
I still find it hard to believe that your pull up number is greater than your dip. But as I’ve mentioned, it’s possible; e.g. you. For me personally I’ve found that an improvement in my pull ups assisted in improving my dips as well, and are strongly correlated with each other. Perhaps it’s because we are at different training levels.
I enjoyed reading your post very much because of your attention to detail. However, I am wondering do you always do pull ups with glutes engaged? Or is that only for certain sets? Also, another contrast is that a good portion of my attention is geared towards my abs. And this is because I believe the lats are so integrated to work with the abs, at all times. Thinking about it now, I always, always pay massive attention to my abs for any movement.
pulldowns - 30lbs 2 x 25
behind neck pulldowns - 1 x 25
dead hang, however long I feel, however many sets I need (until I feel my body waking up, activating. I also do these sporadically throughout my entire workout)
lateral and front raises - 5lbs 2 x 6
overhead presses - 5lbs 1 x 10
pull ups - cluster sets 3 x 1 (I focus on contraction, activation)
single arm pull ups - cluster sets 3 x 1
*sometimes I’ll perform two+ warm up sets, rarely in order. I adapt to what my body needs that day. It’s a workout in itself
I stick to 6 basic exercises with some fun fill ins.
Single Arm Bent Over Row (SABOR)
One hand pull ups
MY USUAL CIRCUIT
Pull ups —> Standing skull crushers[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZ3Io5FpuSY]] just not as shitty —> Elevated push ups —> SABOR —> Dips —> Squats
Reps range usually range from 3 - 6.
Pull ups. Sometimes I’ll neutral grip, wide, V, overhand, underhand. Sometimes I’ll explode, sometimes I’ll do one rep and hold top position for 10+ seconds. Sometimes I’ll do some leg raises into levers. Sometimes muscle ups. ETC It’s whatever is possible with my hands on the bar.
Skull crushers, I’ll almost always get as low as possible and hold bottom position. It’s a suspended plank essentially.
SABOR, I’ll go for heavy singles or triples with anything between 100lbs - 120lbs. No straps of course. Again, interchanging from exploding and controlled tempos
Dips, start with holding top position (my idea of resting), lower myself to limit and hold that for awhile, then I’ll pump out 6 - 10 controlled reps.
Squats, very similar to Ido! [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbozu0DPcYI]]
I also love static holds in the pocket and pulses. A pulse is when I pick a difficult range of motion and ‘pulse’ up and down. Kind of like Ronnie Coleman squats with a shorter range of motion.
I repeat the above for about 45mins, only to take 30 to 60 second breaks to chug some water. No idea how many total reps or sets that is. [/quote]
Your circuit looks interesting! Honestly, I wasn’t satisfied with the way I completed the armstrong program; I know that my technique is still far from perfect (that is, in my own standards at least). What the armstrong program has taught me, though, is that the pull-up is a skill just as much as it is a strength move – it needs constant practice and refinement. Right now, I’m thinking of going with an at least 4x/week schedule, and your idea of sticking to the 3-6 rep range makes a lot of sense for this kind of plan. I might do something like weighted pulls one day, technique work another (low reps with BW), and maybe even volume work with just my BW. I’ll probably work on my horizontal rowing this time too, and I should also probably start working on my vertical/horizontal pushing strength.
About squeezing the glutes: I try to keep them tensed throughout the duration of a set. It’s easy to “forget” about your lower body while doing pull-ups, and I will occasionally pause in between reps just so I could “reset” my butt and pelvis. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this too, but I can feel my abs tense whenever I make a conscious effort to posteriorly tilt my pelvis (by clenching my butt).
The more I dwell on this thread, the more I consider experimenting with low rep ranges for pull-ups. I’d always equated BW exercises with high reps. I appreciate the responses so far.