T Nation

Pull-Ups Stalling


Alright so all my lifts are going up with the exception of weighted pull ups. Currently doing 3x5 with about 85% (55lbs as of now) then a 1x5 with about 50-55%, 2 minutes rest. My grip is holding up Im just having trouble pulling once my arms reach prependicular to my body. Im currently on a 3x week full body with Pull ups, Front Squat, and Overhead Press with narrow dips and heavy curls. I just finished the 2nd week of this routine so I find it hard to believe my body has adapted to the routine/rep,set scheme.

Im considering adding a 2x3 or 2x5 of heavy rows into the last workout before my 2 day rest. Any thoughts on the rows or any other suggestions of lifts I can tack onto my workout to hopefully get me adding weight to my pull ups again. To note, I lift in my garage with only free weight - no machines (for those who many suggest pull downs or anything of that nature).



Sometimes the answer is less work, not more. Think about volume and not just load. Read some of Harry Selkow's programs:


If you gain weight, then your pull-up load increases as well since you have to move that additional weight.


Tim, appreciate the help. Haven't yet looked at the article but certainly will as I love almost anything writen about the 'ol Pull up. Have been maintaning weight at ~160lbs with the obvioulsy 2-3 lb flucuation. Will defiantly put thought into "less work" even though I originally thought 15 reps per workout at a 7rm wasn't very high in volume vs a 4x10 bw (which can be done with ease), but I suppose the whole game chages when you start adding weight...

Anything one else's in put would be appreciated.



Seen that you work out in your garage, try doing pull up every day, at low intensity; start with 50% of your max (bw + extra weight), 2x5. Check this article for more info: http://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/the_40day_program (no need to do the whole program, just use it to improve your pull-up).

If the exercises you listed are THE ONLY you're doing, yes, it would be a good idea to add rows, for a good back developement.


I also recommend searching Poliquin's articles. I know he has a few helpful bites on this exact subject. I just can't remember where.

If the coach who has been quoted saying any worthwhile trainer hould be able to get the average female to 12 reps on a chin-up. I'm sure his tips will help you as well. you just got to search the T-Nation archive.


Thanks for the help guys. Barachiel, I found the article you were refering too ( question of strength ~43) mostly pretained to getting BW pull ups to 12, little was mentioned that pretains to weighted; just about the rock climbing harness for adding weight.



I don't know about you but I've had great progress switching grips.. going from wide pullups to narrorw.. then to Corn cob I've also did well doing negatives with about 100lbs..

Right now I'm doing 5x5 with 60lbs. Hope I helped


Periodization. Doing 3x5 with the same weight at 85% intensity, three times a week, isn't going to net much progress unless you're an absolute beginner.

Take a look at the 5/3/1 article on here, and try 5/3/1 for pullups, once a week. Uhm, you may not actually be strong enough to follow that exactly, since technically the %'s should be off of the total weight: your body weight + weight added. But maybe you can do lat pulldowns for the first two sets, and pullups for the last.

Just a thought.


ALK, was at 60-65 lbs before an injury awhile back and negitives defiantly helped me get there! thanks for the input.

goochadamg, are you saying there is to much volume/intensity, to little or to little variation? I wouldn't say Im an absolute beginner but I have recently (2 months) came back to training after 4 months off due to a shoulder injury (and no gym - school gym closed/to poor to get membership) plus 2 months of bw training.

I know the 5/3/1 is a good program but I dont follow with the being too weak or "%'s should be off of the total weight: your body weight + weight added" as pulling 55lbs (7rm)is about 85% of my max which would be equivalent to 215lbs (160bw+55lbs) which is also my 7rm or about 85%. Just some more input would appreciated.

Also lat pull downs are out of question for another 2 months until I get back to school, here at home I have just free weights, rack, dip/pull up station.

Thanks for the help thus far!


In Week One, you're supposed to do 3 set of five with 65%, 75% and 85% of 90% of your 1RM.

Your 1RM should be about 258; 90% is 232, so the load for first set of 5 is 150lbs...you fall a bit short, but not too much...

I found that a quick way to increase strength on a lift is the rest-pause method outlined by Mike Mahler: http://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/restpause_training .

I tried it (the whole program) and I got stronger very quickly (to the point of injuring a shoulder on bench press...but this doesn't really matter...sorry for the hijack!). You can try it for pull-up, I'm shure it will work!


Ok, your max is 215. With 5/3/1, your training max is 90% of your "true" max. So, your training max is 195 (I rounded up). The first day of the program, you will do 65%, 75%, and 85% of your training max. 65% of 195 is 126 pounds. How are you going to do a pullup that's 30 lbs lighter than your weight? :wink: (Edit: Whoops, It's late. I read that as 215 being your max. Ha. Oh well, anyway: I just wasn't sure in my original post if the #'s would work out, that's all.)

Oh, and yes. You're basically doing way too much volume at too high %'s. Look up periodization & dual factory theory. Check out the book Practical Programming. Take a look at madcow's writeup on 5x5: www.geocities.com/elitemadcow15x5_Program/Linear_5x5.htm

I personally had some success using the texas method (http://stronglifts.com/the-texas-method-strength-training-for-intermediate-lifters/), slightly modified, to get me to an 240x3 chin max (175 bodyweight + 65 pounds).


Whoops, I f'd up my RM calculations. I misread what you wrote as 215 being your max. Fabiop got it right. :wink:



Max'd out the other day with four hours of sleep with 92.5 lbs in the Pull up, making the grand total 252 so fabiop's calculations were right - given better sleep probably would have helped add those few lbs.

I've decided to scrap the program all together based your your guy's advice and as of now Im doing Dan John's 40 day program. Hopefully pick up some strength in the process and then move onto 5/3/1 or something along those lines.

I appreciate everybody's help


I would not know about doing less work. Pull ups is something you need to do often to get good at. Also there is no difference between weighted pull ups and bw pull ups besides the weight added.

I suggest in the days you are not going weighted pull ups to do bw pull ups/chin ups. You can do it in sets, ladders, whatever.


I've been doing pullups once a week, and have been steadily progressing. Pullups aren't any different than any other lift.