I have been doing pullups for awhile, and I am stuck between the 4-7 range. Bevause I can’t do alot, I am afraid my back is getting as good as a workout as it should. Should I incorporate some lat pulldowns. If so, should I do them before or after my pullups.

increase your nuber of sets. if you can do 7 reps do a bunch of sets of 3. or try ladders, these work quite well and will increase your total. for ladders start with 1 rep, rest 10 seconds, do 2 reps, rest 10 seconds, do 3 reps, rest 10 seconds, and if you can do 4 reps do them, then rest a couple minutes. Judging by your being able to do 7 reps, you should be able to do ladders up to 3 or 4 without much trouble. after a couple minutes of rest, do another ladder then another and so on. you should be alright doing 3 to 5 ladders per workout. every few weeks test your max reps, they will go up training like this. pulldowns would be ok for finishers after your pullups, but i would focus mainly on pullups, that is the only way to improve them. good luck.

Exactly dont do pulldowns before pullups.

Or even try laying off pullups for a week, and do rows, pulldowns, deads and whatever else you do.

Come back not thinking you will peak out at 5 or 6 reps but rather aim for 12 or something like that, this way even though you wont reach 12 you will still probably end up doing more than 5 or 6.

Or atleast try doing five sets of five. This way you at least increase you inensity.

I agree. I would try doing a 5x5 or 8x3 if your at a 4-8rm…then add weight when those become easy…you could also check out CT’s Keep Your Chin UP article for a program on increasing chinning strength.

GrowingFast…a poster named ZEB authored a very extensive post a few months ago on PULLUPS. Do a search -there was a lot of great information there.

a typical leg/back/bi day looks like this:

light squat

bent-over rows
reverse-grip chins
standing barbell curls

my back hasn’t gotten sore sense I started doing compound exercises… getting worried


My Volumes of Strength progam works extremely well to increase your pull-up performance. Also, CT’s Get Your Chin-up would be a good choice. If I were you, I’d start with the VOS program as outlined and follow it with CT’s program.
With that plan, you’ll be knocking off some serious pull-up numbers.

What about adding negative chins?

Growingfast,I agree that CW,CT and ZEB wrote excellent papers on this subject.
I don’t think that ZEB would advise you to perform pullups after some heavy sets of deadlift if you want a better pullups performance. Simply prioritize pullups. Maybe it’s better if you change your split, for example CT’s OVT:
day1 - back
day2 - deadlift
day4 - biceps
and CW’s ABBH1:
day1 - row
day5 - pullups or lat pulldowns
day7 - deadlift

I can’t believe ZEB hasn’t chimed in yet… although he would probably just agree with everybody else here. Anyway, that’s what I’m doing. Good advice, everybody!

OK- thanks for the advice. I am currently on a two day split: chest/shoulder legs/back/bi rest repeat was thinking of changing to: chest/shoulder rest /legs/back/bi rest repeat or even sprinting on my rest days

do pulls instead of chins


What is your goal? Doing as many pullups as possible in one set? Using as much weight as possible for a pullup? Or simply hypertrophy?


If you are attempting to break out of the 4 to 7 Pull-up zone I suggest that you do the following:

  1. make Pull-ups your priority. That means train them at least three times per week, or even every other day! Train them first before any other exercise.

  2. Train three work sets. If 10 is your goal for example take a percentage of 10, say 30% and add one rep to the total each week. Your first week would be three sets of 3 with only 2:00 rest between each set. Then the following week you are doing three sets of 4. If you are unable, at some point to add one rep to each of the three sets simply add it to one or two of the sets, always working for three sets.

  3. Make sure you are doing “Pull-ups” as opposed to "Chin-ups (palms facing toward you). When you do Pull-ups (palms away) you are working more of the Lat muscle. While you can do more Chin-ups than Pull-ups (approximately 30% or so more), you must train the lat muscle first as that is the largest muscle involved with either exercise.

  4. As you get closer to the day you are going to test for your max reps, switch to Chin-ups three weeks out, or so.

  5. Stay away from the Lat machine and the Gravatron. These machines are not for someone who can do even one rep on the Chin bar! After you have completed your three sets do two addtional sets of negatives. Do only 4 or 5 reps slowly for each set.

  6. I have no idea what your body fat is, however that is a very important element to raising the rep total. If you weigh 200lbs. and lose even 2% of your body fat that means you have eliminated 4lbs of dead weight! That may not seem like much, but it means an extra rep or two in a max rep set at the level you are at.

As for me I have just completed 36 consecutive dead hang chins. Working toward a goal of 40 Chins for a summer tournament. Wish me luck.

Take Care And Good Luck,


ZEB- thanks for all you your advice. I think you once wrote that one should never use a grip wider than their shoulders; is that accurate?


From what I have seen a grip wider than shoulder width puts to much stress on the rotator cuff. Furthermore, if you want to work the Lats harder (the reason people feel they have to go wide), a standard shoulder width grip, or a bit less will do the trick.

I have to agree with ZEB about the grip being wider than shoulder width.

When I try it it feels like my rotator cuffs will rip off the bone and my clavicles are going to snap at the top of the movement.

ZEB’s article Is definitely a good reference. Make Pullups your priority and you’ll see the numbers change.


If pullups are your big concern…two words, Escalating Density!

Supplement your back training with grip strength exercises and weighted, lowering pullups.

I agree with ZEB, if you’re trying to increase ur pullups, do them first. Especially before deadlifts. I can’t vouch for others on these boards but my grip isn’t exactly up to par with my other lifts. In fact, sometimes it is the limiting factor in my sets of pullups and deads. Therefore, if i want to focus on pull ups, I do them first before deads tire out my grips.

Yesterday I did them before my deads and with a closer grip. I was much stronger. Thank you. What other back exercises do you do on your pullup days? I did some bentover rows too. I also did close grip chinups for biceps and 4 sets of standing barbell curls. Thank again everybody.