T Nation

Pullup Improvement


Anybody know of a program that is designed to improve the amount of pullups you can do? I'm stuck at 15 and have been that way for a while now.


do a mixture of wide grip, close grip.. or you could try weighted


Every once in a while I zero in on some exercise that I think will improve me. On the first of the month I need only do one exactly correct. As each day passes I add one more rep. Some times,as like on the 15th of the month I get stuck. No matter what I get in the same number of reps as the day of the month. Every time I have done this monthly exercise, I have improved.

This particular month I am doing a squat & overhead press. I warm up with 5 reps of a low weight dumbells, them 5 reps with a heavier set of BD, then with my target set of DB's. If on any day I cannot make the full set, I will do more until I get the full #of reps in. This has always worked for me.

Next month I am considering weighted full situps....


Try alternating between weighted Pull-ups and BW pull ups. In the last couple of weeks I have gone from only doing 3 to now doing 10. I plan to be able to do at least 20 in another month. Set your mind to it, it is the most powerful muscle in the body.


GTG works wonders.


Whats GTG? Do any of you think doing weighted negitives will work?


GTG is "grease the groove." This is a technique popularized by Pavel Tsatsouline. I've used it, and it works great.

Read these:



You could also try doing ladders. There are several different ways of doing them...here are a couple.

1)Start with 1 rep then rest 15-30 seconds, then 2 reps rest, and continue until you get 5 reps. Repeat this 8 times. As you get stronger add reps or weight.

2)Start with 1 rep rest 15-30 seconds, and continue until you get 5 reps. After resting 15-30 seconds on the 5th rep work "down the ladder", starting with 4 reps, rest, 3 reps rest until you get 1 rep. Repeat this sequence 3 times. As you get stronger add reps or weight. Good luck.


I switch between Supinated and Pronated grip every 3 weeks or so with my clients that can do at least 6 of the pronated version. IMO once you get to where you can do 15 really good pullups you start hitting the point where you are hitting muscle endurance and strength is not as much of a factor.

The ladders mentioned above could work, give those a shot. Also, I have noticed there is no direct improvement and even a decrease in the amount of pullups initially after having done weighted pullups, I think over time the extra strength may allow you to get one or two more each cycle.

Good Luck I feel like increasing reps on pullups past a certain point is a pretty tough thing to do.


Do a search on Zeb, lots of his threads touch on the noble art of chins / pullups.


Do as many as you can. Then do it again. Again, and again and again.


How many ways are there to skin a cat? Same for improving pull-ups/chin-ups.Variety is probably the best way to find out exactly what your weakness is. Try supinated (chin-up) grip, pronated (pull-up) grip, neutral grip (with rings),
mixed grip, towel pull-ups and vary all of those with different hand spacings. Then there are negatives, partials, isometrics and shoulder shrugs. Lay off the exact way (hand spacing & grip) you are doing them now for about 4 weeks and add some variety. They're all good. It also helps to break the boredom. Throw in some fat boy pull-ups for good measure.



I like sternum pull-ups.

To go back to the thread topic, I think pullup "improvement" doesn't have to be by increased repititions...you can go to harder variations, or add weight.

Sternum pull-ups/chin-ups are definitely harder than normal chins and pullups, IMO. You do a pull-up or chin up, lift your legs, and tilt your head back til it's perpendicular to the floor, then you pull the bar to your chest (really you're doing the opposite though)...get a good contraction then lower to the normal, vertical pullup positition.

Try 8x3 and see if they stimulate you differently.


After reading the article in Dark Knights post I too used to do as many pull ups each time I would go to the barn(where I keep my equipment)Sometimes I would go to the barn 3-4 times a day. I worked from 3 to 10 in no time.


I'd say over 15 pullups is heavily going towards strength-endurance spectrum. Still, get stronger (get 1-5RM bigger) and you should be able to knock some more.


I've tried a lot of different approaches to increasing pullups. (was in the corps so we had to do a lot and they counted towards our PFT score). Ladders are fairly effective, but it never increased my numbers alot. I found reguardless, I always pooped out around 10, even if I was weighing in lighter or heavier or increased in lat pull down or rows.

Weighted chins have helped me the most. When I get on the bar without weight now, I fly up and down with complete ease..


I have gone through this myself, trying to get to 20 pullups. I think that it does become a muscular endurance challenge, and I have done lightly weighted pullups to get more reps. I use anywhere from 5-12 lbs only but keep the reps high. Use the ladder mentioned as well and decrease the rest intervals once a week.


The best answer is weighted pullups and its not even close. Once you can do 6-8 reps with X amount of wait strapped to you (I just use a regular rope tied around my waist looped through plates) increase the weight.

Do this for a couple weeks/months and when you try them again without weight they will be so much easier. And BREATH properly for long high repitition sets.


Also work on form. It's everything on high-rep sets, but it really increases the benefit of pullups overall, too.

Grip the bar hard.

Get a full stretch at the bottom, pause for a split-second, then explode up. This is the most important part, I can't emphasize it enough. Pull as hard as you can, not just hard enough to barely get you to the top.

Make sure your chin or even your collarbone is at the level of the bar...

Then drop into the eccentric. I see no reason to emphasize the eccentric portion of a pullup, personally, and you still have to decelerate at the bottom, which is arguably better than a slow eccentric.

You can do more pullups this way, and if you do them faster you are exerting more force which equals more strength gain.

Oh, don't ever raise your legs. That's cheating.


The problem is that when you do 15 you're into endurance training territory. Break it up and do sets, 5x5 for example. When you can do that successfully start adding weight.