T Nation

Pull-Up Strength


How important is pull-up strength? Would you say it's just as important as a horizontal pushing movement? (bench press)

What does it say about a 220 lb lifter who can bench 315 but only do a few pull-ups? Perhaps their vertical pulling strength is holding them back. How many pull-ups can you guys do, and at what bodyweight?


that injuries are quite likely? that you have to lean backwards to stop from falling over when standing still? that you would probably fall to your doom if you were hanging off something and needed to pull yourself up?


Probably 8-10 consecutively, usually I do 10 sets of 3 with body weight or 68 sets of 2 w/25# if I'm feeling ambitious that day. I'm 235 now, and the extra weight definitely affected my pull up ability. When I was younger and 175, I could knock out sets of 15 with body weight and a set of 5-8 with a 45 strapped on. My dipping strength went in the same direction also as I gained more weight.


42... got bored.

i can pull my bodyweight too.


About 20 consecutive at 205...currently do 10 x 5 with 50, trying to add weight.

As for pull-ups being important, I have heard them called the equivalent of squats for the upper body.


boatguy thats still pretty damn good

i think-

pullups = upper body deadlift
dips = upper body squat


Pull-ups, I think are the best thing for the upper back....I do 10X3 with 85lbs added.....one of the things that stuck with me for the Marine Corps....we got paid exta by doing so many pull ups....this also helps with being able to do heavier standing barbell curls which in turn will increase the size of those guns, which will be able to stabalize big benches, shoulder presses.



Just read my last post and typo - That was 6-8 sets, not 68 sets!!!


DAMN!!!!! I was all set to try for 69 sets.

30 +++ BWT = 145 lb

4 @ 60 lb.

2 @ 70 lb.



I can do several sets of 8 @ 215lb bodyweight. Maybe up to 10 on the first set if I start with a supinated grip. I'll start to add some plates on a belt when I get consistent in the 10-12 rep range. I always balance out the shoulder press work with pull-ups and bench press with rows. Years of shoulder and joint pain have taught me a lesson. Supersetting antagonist exercises makes my time in the gym faster and more efficient as well.


I think it's very important. I would start concentrating on pull-ups if I were you and do them first in your workouts. You should be able to do more that a "few" pull-ups at this point.

I'm about 210lbs and I can do pull-ups 5x5 w/65 pounds added on. Dips 5x5 w/115 added on.

Obviously, the heavier you get, the harder it is to do pull-ups or dips. If over time after specializing in them for a while you still can't put up respectable numbers at that weight then you are probably too fat. Try to drop your bodyfat % and your lifts will go up in no time.


The thing you should be looking to do if you are really looking to get complete back development is to work up to banging out the sternum chin ups....the initial vertical pulling action with the finishing horizontal pulling action. If there is a muscle in my back that this chin up variation misses...well you can kick me in that muscle after I finish....cause to tell the truth after I'm finished I can't feel my back muscles anymore anyway.


Just a question. I can hardly do any wide grip pullups. I think the last time I attempted (earlier this week), I made two on my first set and settled with negatives for the rest of my workout for that lift. It used to be the same way for dips, but I noticed with dips a quicker acceleration in performance when I added weight and did negatives. Do you think adding weight when doing negatives will increase pullup performance?


It depends how good the form is on the negs...have seem some people doing negatives and I swear they were heading down faster than 9.8m/s. I find that assisted work with bands helps that way you can build up your volume and then start adding the negatives.


I can get somewhere around 15 at 225-230 6'2 and I have pretty long arms. TO me that sucks because when I was in HS I could get close to 35 and had the record for the year. Then the next year this kid who was like 5ft nothing crushed me and got somewhere around 40. As for dips I got somewhere around 30 with pretty decent ROM and a very fast tempo. I'd like to get my chins back up to cranking 20 at a clip for 2-3 sets. My back's just soo damn wide I've been putting in last in priority for awhile now.

I could be wrong but I'd say that as long as your rowing #'s are somewhat balanced with your benching #'s then you should be alright in terms of not developing an injury. However I'd definitely say that doesn't seem to be that case when I look around my gym.


. . . And then after school you kicked his ass.


Pull ups rule!

I currently weigh 192. My best ever was 22 dead hangs at around 195. I couldn't imagine ever reaching 40, I'd have to chop off my legs to do that.

Currently I just do singles of body weight + 90 or just bodyweight doubles and do them as fast as possible with a clap at the top.


I'm going to start a routine after Thanksgiving where I do a max set of five for chin-ups on monday, followed by a bunch of sets of 5 with bodyweight. Then on Friday I'll do a bunch of sets of dumbbell rows.
We'll see how that goes.


I think pull up strength is important. It is good to have balance. As far as real world strength, I usually only use my pullup power when I'm climbing a wall. Also it's nice to be able to hang on the rim with one hand after a dunk, if you can't do many pullups odds are you can't hang from one hand on anything.

As far as a 220 guy benchin' 315, and can only do a couple pullups it just tells me where his priorities have been over his weight lifting career. Anyone can get better at pullups and achieve incredible numbers. It just takes practice.


I have no strength-endurance but I can pullup and chinup with half bodyweight extra. I probably couldn't squeeze out more than mid-high teens with either grip though.