6 Tips to Do More Pull-ups & Chin-ups (part 2)
A quick summary is:
Tips for Beginners (0-5 Reps)
In the beginning, the key to success is building skill-specific strength by practicing proper technique often.
1) Choose the right pull-up progression for your strength level.
2) Practice the hardest progression that you can do with excellent technique as often as possible.
Tips for Intermediate Trainees (6-15 Reps)
3) Grease the groove for rapid, short-term results.
4) Focus on the following three types of workouts.
a) Max-Effort Pull-up Workouts
b) Pull-up Pyramid Workouts
c) Pull-up Endurance Workouts
Suggestion: do the three workouts listed above once per week for 4-6 weeks (i.e. a total of 3 pull-up workouts per week).
But what if you can already do 10-15 reps and want to become a true pullup (or chinup) superstar? John has some new tips just for you. Here is Part 2:
My Top 2 Tips for Advanced Trainees (16-20+ Reps)
5) Increase volume and intensity to improve your strength-endurance.
If you’re in the 15-20+ reps range, you are well past earning any newbie gains and you’re probably nearing your maximum ability without using weights. Said another way, it will soon be difficult to add more reps to your max without increasing your max strength. And the best way to do that is with weighted pull-ups.
However, after you get past the 12-15 reps range, the pull-up transitions into more of an endurance challenge than a strength challenge. And so, you’ll need strength-endurance to keep adding reps to your max.
Now, anything you can do to increase the time under tension during the exercise will help you improve your pull-up and chin-up endurance. So, as part of your high-volume, high intensity workouts (like the three workouts in Tip #4), try implementing the following advanced strategies.
a) Pull-up Drop Sets
Instructions: Perform a max effort set of pull-ups. Immediately after your last repetition (your max), begin performing assisted pull-ups (e.g. jumping pull-ups or band-assisted pull-ups). Perform the set of assisted pull-ups until you max out again (i.e. as many reps as you can perform with good technique). Then perform a max set of negative repetitions (i.e., just the lowering portion of the exercise). After that, hold a flexed-arm hang for as long as possible. And then finally, hold a deadhang for as long as possible to finish up the set.
The idea is that after you’ve maxed out at one level, you drop down a difficulty level and max out again, until you’ve extinguished all options – without resting between exercises. Obviously, this will be quite challenging, and will create substantial fatigue. So, I’d suggest using this strategy judiciously.
Here’s a video that explains the Pullup Drop Set strategy…
b) Pull-up Rest-Pause Sets
Instructions: Perform a set of pull-ups as you normally would, and when finished, take about 5-10 seconds to rest (for a quick recovery). After the 5-10 seconds has passed, start performing sets of 1-3 pull-ups at a time, and resting only 5-10 seconds between sets. Stop when you can no longer perform one pull-up with good technique after 10 seconds of rest.
6) Add weight, carefully and gradually, for continued, sustainable results.
Most trainees will reach a point in their progress when it becomes very difficult to increase their pull-up numbers. It’s different for everyone, but it happens to most men somewhere between 18-25 reps. You just get stuck. And what you were doing before just isn’t working anymore.
Now, the stronger you get, and the closer you get to your genetic potential, the more important that it will be for you to take a long-term approach to strength training – for pull-ups or otherwise. And usually, this means that it’s time for weighted pull-ups, which can be a moderately risky exercise unless you are patient, follow safe training practices, and progress gradually.
The best way to start training with weighted pull-ups is to simply add 2.5 to 5 pounds to yourself every week or two (e.g. using a weight belt, backpack, or holding a weight between your legs or feet). This simple, linear progression is boring, and it works very well. But eventually, you’ll need to adopt a more formal, periodized strength training program for increasing your max strength and strength-endurance.
I’ve got my own formulas that are too long and complicated to explain here, but in general, for building your max pull-up strength (e.g. your 1-rep max), I’d recommend keeping most of your workouts in the 1-5 reps range to focus on building strength.
Workout 1: 5×5 pull-ups
Workout 2: 8×3
Workout 3: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 reps
Of course, as I mentioned, you’ll need to train for both strength and strength-endurance, which is a topic beyond the scope of this article. Suffice to say, the more advanced you get, the harder it gets to keep making progress, and the more you’ll have to keep all of your ducks in a row.
The Bottom Line
Pull-ups aren’t easy, but anyone can get better at them. And if you work hard enough, you can get great results in a relatively short period of time. So, get on that bar, and put in the work!
Back to Darrin…
Awesome, How Do I Keep Improving?
John has a much more detailed program – including more videos – as part of The Pullup Solution: The Complete Pull-up & Chin-up Training System.
He’s offering a great product at a great price and will give you your money back if you aren’t happy. And if he doesn’t I will. I don’t ever want to recommend any product that doesn’t work and so you’ve got a double guarantee here.
About The Guest Author
John Sifferman is a health-first fitness coach and the author of The Pull-up Solution, the first comprehensive, step-by-step pull-up and chin-up training system that helps people rapidly increase their pull-up numbers in three months or less.
You can learn how John dramatically improved his pull-up performance and has helped thousands of people do the same with a unique twist on pull-up training at his website www.ThePullupSolution.com.
John lives with his wife, children, and Akita dog in beautiful New Hampshire.