What’s the best way to train for pull ups a fitness expert explains

The development of a baby during their first year is remarkable. When they are first born they don’t have control over their body and by the end of the first year they are usually crawling or even walking! One of the biggest milestones that usually occurs in the first year is standing up. This usually occurs with the help of a parent at first, and then the child learns to pull themselves up into standing. From here they begin to cruise around the furniture, stand by themselves and eventually begin walking. Let’s find out when babies usually reach this stage of development.

When do babies stand up?
Firstly, it is important to remember that this developmental stage occurs at different times depending on the child. Babies begin to enjoy standing up, while holding onto an adults hands, and bouncing at about 5 months. Most babies can stand confidently, with support from an adult or solid object, at approximately 6-7 months of age. Many babies begin to attempt to pull themselves into a standing position between 7-8 months and they are usually successful between 8-10 months. It is at this time they begin to cruise around the furniture and other objects and you might even see them take a step or two between objects. They begin to have small periods (1-4 seconds) of being able to balance and stand on their own at approximately 9-11 months and begin to stand confidently around 11-13 months. It is during these final stages that you are most likely to witness your child’s first unassisted steps!

Did you know?
Some children are able to support their own weight as young as 2 months old! This was once discouraged because it was thought that it caused bow legs, but this is no longer thought to be the case.

As your baby learns to stand it is important that you try to teach them to bend their knees so they can sit back down without falling over or crying for help!

Follow these steps to correctly do this feat of upper body strength

What's the best way to train for pull ups a fitness expert explains

What's the best way to train for pull ups a fitness expert explains

We don’t do chinups at Gym Jones. We do pullups.

Most people say the difference between a pullup and a chinup is the direction that your hands face. (For chinups, your palms face in. For pullups, your palms face out.)

But we look at it a different way: The term “chinup” implies that all you have to do is pull yourself high enough that your chin barely squeaks over the bar.

That’s not high enough.

To get the most out of the movement (and for a rep to “count”), we require that you pull yourself all the way up until your chest touches the bar. So that’s why we call them “pullups,” regardless of how your hands are holding the bar.

Let’s review pullup form. There’s a decided difference between doing 20 kipping pullups (where you use momentum to get more reps) and 20 dead hang, no kipping, chest-to-bar pullups. This article is about the latter.

At Gym Jones, we think kipping pullups are OK if you’re using them in a competition to get more reps. But for general fitness enthusiasts who want to develop a big, powerful back, nothing trumps a regular pullup.

To do a regular pullup, start by hanging from a bar, your arms completely straight. This is called the “dead hang” position. Without swinging your torso to gain momentum, pull yourself up until your chest touches the bar and your elbows are behind the center of your torso.

Don’t be lazy and rely on gravity to lower yourself back down. There’s enormous muscle and strength building value in the negative portion of the movement. Slowly lower yourself back to a dead hang. Repeat.

(Find out how to Power Up Your Pullup with this challenging variation on the old classic, the Hollow Pullup.)

If you do pullups like I just described, 20 in a row is a great standard to aim for. The vast majority of guys can’t do that. If you get to 20 reps, it tends to be a game changer for your upper body strength.

Whether your palms face in or out during each rep is more or less irrelevant in the grand scheme of 20 pullups. So when you train, use both hand positions equally.

Here’s how you can bang out 20.

1. Do Pullups

If you want to get good at pullups, do more pullups. It sounds too simple to be effective, right?

Many people want some “magic” exercise that’s going to make them better at pullups, but it just doesn’t work that way.

Case in point: People often do lat pulldowns (a machine that mimics the pullup movement) because they think it’ll help them strengthen their pullup skills. But it doesn’t. You need the real thing.

I realize some of you may only be able to do a single good pullup. That’s fine—just do several sets of one pullup. Pepper those small sets throughout your routine—a single pullup in between sets of every other exercise in your routine is a good way to approach it.

Aim for 25 to 50 total pullups, three days a week (25 reps if you’re a beginner). If you don’t go to the gym, you can put a pullup bar in a door frame and pay a toll of a couple reps to walk through the door.

If you can already do 5 pullups, do sets of whatever number of reps is 2 to 3 reps shy of your max until you hit 50 total pullups each session. For example, if you can do 12 pullups, do sets of 9 or 10 until you hit 50 reps total.

Volume is key—by tallying more reps, your sequential number will slowly build over time.

2. Own the Negative

Some guys who come into Gym Jones aren’t able to do a single pullup. The best way to get started is by practicing the lowering portion of the movement.

Jump up to a bar and hold it so that you’re at the top portion of a pullup. Slowly lower yourself, taking 4 or 5 seconds to go down to a dead hang. Do sets of that throughout your workout.

Soon, those guys are able to perform one pullup.

But there’s also value in the negative for guys who can already crank out pullups. Even if you’re close to 20 reps, do one set each workout where you do fewer pullups but take as long as you can to return to the dead hang.

Trust me, it just works.

3. Work Your Pulling Muscles

Exercises that work the same muscle groups you use in a pullup will help you score more reps.

An exercise I recommend for anybody who wants to do more pullups is the inverted row.

Set a barbell about waist high in a squat rack or a Smith machine (this exercise actually might be the only good use for a Smith machine). Using an overhand, shoulder-width grip, hang with your arms completely straight, hands positioned directly above your shoulders, and heels touching the floor.

Your body should form a straight line from your ankles to your head.

Pull your shoulder blades back, and continue to pull with your arms to lift your chest to the bar. Pause, and lower your body back to the starting position.

Remember to keep that plank position throughout. Do at least three sets each workout.

A few other exercises to consider adding to your routine: Bent over barbell rows, wide-grip deadlifts, and the T-Bar row.

Want more? Check out Men’s Health Maximus Body. It features my most effective mental and physical toughness building-drills, 100+ workouts, and the 3- and 6-month fitness program that I give to clients ranging from special forces soldiers to average guys who want to get insanely shredded.

Follow these steps to correctly do this feat of upper body strength

What's the best way to train for pull ups a fitness expert explains

What's the best way to train for pull ups a fitness expert explains

We don’t do chinups at Gym Jones. We do pullups.

Most people say the difference between a pullup and a chinup is the direction that your hands face. (For chinups, your palms face in. For pullups, your palms face out.)

But we look at it a different way: The term “chinup” implies that all you have to do is pull yourself high enough that your chin barely squeaks over the bar.

That’s not high enough.

To get the most out of the movement (and for a rep to “count”), we require that you pull yourself all the way up until your chest touches the bar. So that’s why we call them “pullups,” regardless of how your hands are holding the bar.

Let’s review pullup form. There’s a decided difference between doing 20 kipping pullups (where you use momentum to get more reps) and 20 dead hang, no kipping, chest-to-bar pullups. This article is about the latter.

At Gym Jones, we think kipping pullups are OK if you’re using them in a competition to get more reps. But for general fitness enthusiasts who want to develop a big, powerful back, nothing trumps a regular pullup.

To do a regular pullup, start by hanging from a bar, your arms completely straight. This is called the “dead hang” position. Without swinging your torso to gain momentum, pull yourself up until your chest touches the bar and your elbows are behind the center of your torso.

Don’t be lazy and rely on gravity to lower yourself back down. There’s enormous muscle and strength building value in the negative portion of the movement. Slowly lower yourself back to a dead hang. Repeat.

(Find out how to Power Up Your Pullup with this challenging variation on the old classic, the Hollow Pullup.)

If you do pullups like I just described, 20 in a row is a great standard to aim for. The vast majority of guys can’t do that. If you get to 20 reps, it tends to be a game changer for your upper body strength.

Whether your palms face in or out during each rep is more or less irrelevant in the grand scheme of 20 pullups. So when you train, use both hand positions equally.

Here’s how you can bang out 20.

1. Do Pullups

If you want to get good at pullups, do more pullups. It sounds too simple to be effective, right?

Many people want some “magic” exercise that’s going to make them better at pullups, but it just doesn’t work that way.

Case in point: People often do lat pulldowns (a machine that mimics the pullup movement) because they think it’ll help them strengthen their pullup skills. But it doesn’t. You need the real thing.

I realize some of you may only be able to do a single good pullup. That’s fine—just do several sets of one pullup. Pepper those small sets throughout your routine—a single pullup in between sets of every other exercise in your routine is a good way to approach it.

Aim for 25 to 50 total pullups, three days a week (25 reps if you’re a beginner). If you don’t go to the gym, you can put a pullup bar in a door frame and pay a toll of a couple reps to walk through the door.

If you can already do 5 pullups, do sets of whatever number of reps is 2 to 3 reps shy of your max until you hit 50 total pullups each session. For example, if you can do 12 pullups, do sets of 9 or 10 until you hit 50 reps total.

Volume is key—by tallying more reps, your sequential number will slowly build over time.

2. Own the Negative

Some guys who come into Gym Jones aren’t able to do a single pullup. The best way to get started is by practicing the lowering portion of the movement.

Jump up to a bar and hold it so that you’re at the top portion of a pullup. Slowly lower yourself, taking 4 or 5 seconds to go down to a dead hang. Do sets of that throughout your workout.

Soon, those guys are able to perform one pullup.

But there’s also value in the negative for guys who can already crank out pullups. Even if you’re close to 20 reps, do one set each workout where you do fewer pullups but take as long as you can to return to the dead hang.

Trust me, it just works.

3. Work Your Pulling Muscles

Exercises that work the same muscle groups you use in a pullup will help you score more reps.

An exercise I recommend for anybody who wants to do more pullups is the inverted row.

Set a barbell about waist high in a squat rack or a Smith machine (this exercise actually might be the only good use for a Smith machine). Using an overhand, shoulder-width grip, hang with your arms completely straight, hands positioned directly above your shoulders, and heels touching the floor.

Your body should form a straight line from your ankles to your head.

Pull your shoulder blades back, and continue to pull with your arms to lift your chest to the bar. Pause, and lower your body back to the starting position.

Remember to keep that plank position throughout. Do at least three sets each workout.

A few other exercises to consider adding to your routine: Bent over barbell rows, wide-grip deadlifts, and the T-Bar row.

Want more? Check out Men’s Health Maximus Body. It features my most effective mental and physical toughness building-drills, 100+ workouts, and the 3- and 6-month fitness program that I give to clients ranging from special forces soldiers to average guys who want to get insanely shredded.

What's the best way to train for pull ups a fitness expert explains

Everyone knows them – some hate them, others love them, but everyone benefits from them: Pull-ups . In this article, you will learn all the important facts: What do pull-ups actually do, what are their benefits, how do you do them correctly? We will also explain what equipment you need for pull-ups. Once you are equipped with the best possible knowledge, you can get started immediately!

Pull-ups – what are the benefits?

What's the best way to train for pull ups a fitness expert explains

If one physical exercise were voted a classic, this would be it: Pull-ups. There is hardly any other exercise that is as effective and important as the pull-up. But why? First of all, a pull-up is a so-called compound or complex exercise. This includes exercises that work a relatively large part of your body simultaneously. In the case of pull-ups, it is mostly the upper body that is worked. Depending on the version, whether you use the overhand or underhand grip or if you do narrow or broad pull-ups, the exercise focuses on either your upper back, or your entire back – but, no matter which version you choose, your back and arms will get an intensive workout. As a result, pull-ups do not only help to build muscles – they also prevent back pain, and last but not least they make your back very attractive (the famous V-back). Through regular training and a constantly increase in muscle stimulation, you will be able to develop a strong, healthy back relatively quickly with pull-ups.

Generally, pull-ups offer a lot of advantages: First of all, they save you time and money, because you can do them almost anywhere and your own body is all you need. Whether on the playground, on a branch or with an outdoor pull-up bar , see above, you can get rigged up for a pull-up workout very quickly, wherever you are. If necessary, you can do them on any door, but more about that later. Secondly, if done correctly, they are very healthy for your back – especially for people who sit a lot, or for those office workers among us, pull-ups can trigger beneficial stimulation of the muscles, which (after some practice) can also be fun. And last, but not least – due to their high degree of complexity – they are very effective for building muscle, therefore they must be included in any bodyweight workout plan.

Which muscles are worked the most when doing pull-ups?

What's the best way to train for pull ups a fitness expert explains

There are many different variations of pull-ups. Depending on the technique used, different muscle groups are worked. The two most important differences in pull-ups are the type of grip and the width of the grip. There are two possible grips you can use, the “underhand grip” and the “overhand grip”. The “underhand grip”, i.e. with your fingertips pointing towards you whilst doing the pull-ups , focuses more on the arms, whereas the “overhand grip”, i.e. with the backs of your hands towards you, focuses more on the lats. If your grip is the width of your shoulders, primarily your entire back gets a workout, whereas a wider grip focuses more on the width of the upper back (the V-shape).

What's the best way to train for pull ups a fitness expert explains

You can also set different stimuli for your muscles by changing the number of repetitions: if you want to work at muscle building, you shouldn’t exceed 8-12 repetitions (with additional weight if needed), and those who want to train for strength endurance should not exceed 12 – 20 pull-ups. If you want to work on high-speed strength, you shouldn’t do more than 20 pull-ups at a time. In principle, pull-ups are a highly versatile exercise, which means that you can always adapt the way you do them to suit your goals. They are suitable for beginners, who can also use pull-up bands for as long as they need them, to practice the correct execution and coordination. Advanced users can do more difficult pull-up variants (for example with additional lateral movements) or they can work with additional weights, in order to increase the stimulation of the muscles

What's the best way to train for pull ups a fitness expert explains

Here’s what you need to know…

  1. The pull-up has been beaten to death by lifters and athletes who try at all costs to get their rep total higher and higher. They should be adding load instead.
  2. Simply hanging from the bar is an important form of loading. If you want to do 25 strict pull-ups, can you even hang from the bar long enough to do them?
  3. The ab wheel mimics many of the keys to proper pull-ups.
  4. Pavel’s Russian Fighter Pull-up Program allows you to “sneak up” on a higher number of reps.

I pity the pull-up. In the past decade, this wonderful movement has been trashed and beaten by enthusiasts who try at all costs to up their rep total higher and higher. Sure, high reps have their place, but many of us need a smarter, more rational approach.

After a certain age, pull-ups start “bugging” people. For most of us, there’s a pain in the elbow that only goes away when we avoid pull-ups. A few weeks or months later, it seems to cure itself and the only way we reinjure it is by doing more high-rep pull-ups and… we succeed! We have a name for this in my gym. We call it Middle Age Pull-Up Syndrome, or MAPS. “You too can help us cure this disease. Please send money now to…”

Improving your pull-up numbers, either with more reps or more load – which I tend to recommend over more reps – is going to be a study in balance. If you force the reps up with more and more volume, you might eventually hit your new personal record in the movement but never again throw a ball or comb your hair. You could keep your hair really short, or you could train the pull-up using a few contrarian ideas.

How Long Can You Hang?

I learned an interesting thing from Gray Cook. Gray and I do workshops together on work capacity and he recently told me something that changed my vision of training the pull-up: merely hanging from the bar is an important form of loading.

After I watched the famous video of the gibbon taunting the tiger cubs online, I learned the power of brachiation (essentially, swinging by one arm). I also know that we have mobile shoulders and opposable thumbs, and years ago I found that monkey bars, that wonderfully ignored piece of equipment, seemed to resurrect javelin throwers. Gray’s insight about hanging from the bar being a great form of loading connected all those dots for me and I came up with a meaningful challenge:

How long can you hang?

Seriously, if you want to do 25 pull-ups, can you hang from the bar long enough to do them? Don’t know? Test it. Simply hang from the bar as long as you can. Now double that number! How you go about doing this, I don’t care, but if you can only hold onto the bar 30 seconds, doubling the time might give you the wiggle room to succeed on your pull-up goal. It’s that simple. To make it more challenging, try to hold your chin over the bar for time. Later, progress to a one-arm hang. Just working the monkey bars alone might be enough to keep you going for a while.

It Sounds Weird, But it Works

In my gym, during our morning sessions, we rarely do more than five pull-ups in a row. Because of the size and age of some of our men, we prefer to mix in reps of the pull-up with the ab-wheel roll out because it mimics the keys to proper pull-ups: tight abs, hollow core, and an explosion over the top at the finish.

What's the best way to train for pull ups a fitness expert explains

When I do pull-ups, I like to finish them with my thumbs in my armpits and then I attempt to drive my elbows back behind me. Working the ab wheel looks and feels like a proper attempt in the pull-up, hence the synergy. Moreover, the ab wheel, while hard on the abs, is very easy on the elbows and you can move back and forth between the two movements for a while.

With the mechanics of the ab wheel fresh in your mind and nervous system, do a pull-up with feet crossed and knees squeezed together and “ab wheel” yourself over the pull-up bar. It’ll feel as if you’re rolling over the bar, not pulling up. I’ve found that five ab wheel rollouts supersetted with a SINGLE excellent pull-up is repeatable and easy on the elbows. It does, obviously, get harder as you go on, so if you decide to do more than ten total sets of ab wheel rollout/pull-ups, do three reps of ab rollouts instead of five.

Pavel’s Russian Fighter Program

My last bit of advice involves reps and loads. Years ago, Pavel introduced to the idea of the Russian Fighters’ Pull-up Program. It’s a multi-week program that involves “sneaking up” on reps in the pull-up. If your max is five real pull-ups, try this:

The 5RM Russian Pull-up Program

  • Day 1: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
  • Day 2: 5, 4, 3, 2, 2
  • Day 3: 5, 4, 3, 3, 2
  • Day 4: 5, 4, 4, 3, 2
  • Day 5: 5, 5, 4, 3, 2
  • Day 6: OFF
  • Day 7: 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
  • Day 8: 6, 5, 4, 3, 3
  • Day 9: 6, 5, 4, 4, 3
  • Day 10: 6, 5, 5, 4, 3
  • Day 11: 6, 6, 5, 4, 3
  • Day 12: OFF
  • Day 13: 7, 6, 5, 4, 3
  • Day 14: 7, 6, 5, 4, 4
  • Day 15: 7, 6, 5, 5, 4
  • Day 16: 7, 6, 6, 5, 4
  • Day 17: 7, 7, 6, 5, 4
  • Day 18: OFF
  • Day 19: 8, 7, 6, 5, 4
  • Day 20: 8, 7, 6, 5, 5
  • Day 21: 8, 7, 6, 6, 5
  • Day 22: 8, 7, 7, 6, 5
  • Day 23: 8, 8, 7, 6, 5
  • Day 24: OFF
  • Day 25: 9, 8, 7, 6, 5
  • Day 26: 9, 8, 7, 6, 6
  • Day 27: 9, 8, 7, 7, 6
  • Day 28: 9, 8, 8, 7, 6
  • Day 29: 9, 9, 8, 7, 6
  • Day 30: OFF

Rest a few days and test the new max number of pull-ups.

If, however, you can do more than five reasonable reps, I strongly recommend adding load. The test would be max reps for three, with load. So, if you can do three reps with, say, 15 pounds around your waist, follow the simple 12-day program below. Use the same load for the duration of the 12-days.

The 3RM Russian Pull-up Program

  • Day 1: 3, 2, 1, 1
  • Day 2: 3, 2, 1, 1
  • Day 3: 3, 2, 2, 1
  • Day 4: 3, 3, 2, 1
  • Day 5: 4, 3, 2, 1
  • Day 6: OFF
  • Day 7: 4, 3, 2, 1, 1
  • Day 8: 4, 3, 2, 2, 1
  • Day 9: 4, 3, 3, 2, 1
  • Day 10: 4, 4, 3, 2, 1
  • Day 11: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
  • Day 12: OFF

Rest a few days and test the next max number of pull-ups with load.

Rebuild your pull-up numbers with some very reasonable workouts. Try increasing your hang time and then get in that ab wheel work. Then, give yourself a few weeks on the pull-up bar with or without load and see if you can increase your numbers, pain free.

Pull-ups are one of the best exercises that you can do, but so many people don’t do them because they can’t do them. Is Yogi Berra in the hiz-ouse? In this article we are going to explain how to What's the best way to train for pull ups a fitness expert explainsHow to do pull-ups for beginners, and how to do pull-ups properly, even if you cannot do any. Here’s a strategy that will help you do that first key pull up. And once you can do one pull up you’ll be amazed at the progress that you will make… The pull up is one of the top-5 exercises and everyone should strive to do them. Pull-ups can be used to determine, and are an indicator of, a persons’ physical fitness level, as the service academies expect that all applicants be able to perform 8 pull-ups. The problem is that because some people have a problem doing them, they don’t do them and don’t even try. Pull-ups are hard and a lot of people who can’t do one – even if they want to be able to do them – don’t know how to go about developing their strength and technique.

First, let’s get some terminology straight. A pull-up is done when you grip the bar with a “palms away” grip and chin-ups are done with a “palms facing” grip. Chins are a bit easier because this grip allows for more biceps involvement. For the sake of this discussion, I will refer to pull-ups. However, you can apply this fitness tip to either variation. Work on the pull up; they’re harder and ultimately do more for you. If you can’t do one pull up there are two very effective variations to use; the flexed arm hang and negative pull-ups. For the flexed arm hang boost yourself up – either have a friend spot you or step up on a bench – so that your chin is above the bar. Once in this position, pull the elbows down and slightly back, keep your chest up, and tighten your lats before you take your feet off the bench. The idea here is to hold yourself in this “chin over the bar” position for as long as possible. At first, shoot for a 15-second hold and take a 2-minute rest before your next hold. Four sets of holds is a good place to start. Add time as your strength increases. When you are hanging, bend your knees so that your feet are behind you and your torso and thighs form a straight line. Don’t lift your knees up in front as this will develop a bad habit that will retard your progress. Work to minimize or eliminate the body from swinging as this wastes precious strength. Negative pull-ups will help develop the strength necessary to perform pull-ups. Get into the “chin over the bar” position but instead of staying in the flexed arm position, you will lower yourself down to the “dead hang” position. Try to lower your body on a 5-count and don’t just drop and flop. There will be a point just before the dead hang position where there’s the urge to relax, but continue to exert control. Use the same initial position and form doing the negative pull up that’s used in the flexed arm hang. Lock in with your lats, bend your knees and keep your feet behind you. Maintain control as you start your descent and keep your lats tight. If you have a spotter they can help steady you before the drop. The goal should be to do four single 5-count negative pull-ups with 2-minutes rest in between each.

As you progress – and as your confidence grows – add reps to the routine. There’s no hard and fast rule as to when you’ll be able to crank out your first pull-up, as the mental component of getting to this point is huge. You have to be able to make a complete, 100% effort, from both the mental and physical standpoints, to perform a pull-up. Employ both of these strategies in the effort to be able to perform that first, elusive pull-up. Don’t get psyched out by the pull-up. Be patient and make use of this approach and you will be able to do pull-ups, and improve your level of physical fitness and health – before you know it.

Here are some additional resources to help you get started:

Pull ups are famously hard.

They’re so challenging that every underdog sports movie has a montage of the main character’s pull up development. At first they are an out of shape also ran who can’t even do one pull up. Over the course of one 80s song they become a svelt, contender who can bang out upwards of 10 pull ups.

Sometimes in the Russian wilderness.

Most people train pull ups wrong. They think they are a purely strength exercise, so they load up a ton of weight on a lat pull down machine or try to cheat their way to a full pull up.

Pull ups are a skill. You need to train the movement and the mental recognition of the separate parts of the movement.

Yes, you need to be strong enough to pull yourself up to the bar, but you also need the physical skills to recognize what movements need to be completed in order to do that. To be honest, most people are strong enough to do a pull up after 3 months of training. They don’t have the movement specific skills to execute a proper rep, or they freak out when they are hanging from a bar and have to overcome a mental hurdle.

Here are the only two exercises you need to progress yourself to a full pull up and to overcome the “sh*t I can’t do this!” mental hurdle.

1. Band Assisted Pull Up

What it does: Allows you to practice a REAL pull up while taking some weight off your body.

How to set up: Attach the right band to a pull up bar, step up on a box and put one knee through the band. Step off the box and get ready to do a pull up.

Movement tips: With any pull up or chin up you should NOT be focusing on pulling your chest to the bar. You need to focus on pulling your elbows to your ribs. The lats are the main movers of the pull up, and they engage by pulling your elbows to your ribs. Focusing on chest to bar will overly involve your biceps, which isn’t a bad thing, it will just lower the number of reps you can perform.

The lats are the broadest muscle in your body, they will develop to be stronger than your biceps so don’t short yourself by cheating.

Benefits: This allows you to practice the movement of the pull up without having to support and move your entire body weight. This exercise is only effective if you progress (i.e lessen) the tension of the bands as you get stronger. Start by doing 5-10 reps with a heavy band until it’s easy, then do 5-10 reps with a lighter band. After a few weeks you won’t need the band at all and your form will be spot on.

World Record Break!

Last September (2017), I reclaimed the Guinness World Record for “Most Pull-Ups in One Minute,” with 55. These are “strict form pull-ups” meaning that the body must remain straight (no use of the legs to generate momentum).

Training for this record has been intense and exhilarating. As the competition is getting tougher and tougher, staying atop the pull-ups word is a never-ending process. Since 2015, the record has been set at 50, then 51 (me), then 53, then 54, then 55 (me again).

Right now, I have my eyes set on breaking the “60 barrier” — 60 pull-ups in 60 seconds. It’s kind of like the 4:00 minute mile – before Roger Bannister broke it, that is! As of now, no one on earth has been officially recorded doing 60 clean pull-ups in 60 seconds.

The intense competition forces me to keep working hard, being smart, and developing creative training techniques. Here are three key principles that have led to my success and that will get you big gains on your own pull-ups.

#1: Do high-volume workouts and get plenty of rest between sets

To improve at pull-ups, you need to do a lot of reps. Even of you’re starting from a high level, this may mean doing some assisted pull-ups for high-volume sets. You also need to space out your sets to achieve a gradual fatigue.

In my own workouts, I do 150-180 reps per workout, spaced over 60-90 minutes. That’s elite-level training. But almost everyone could benefit from more reps. 3 sets of 10 with a minute or two of rest just won’t cut it for major improvement.

Let me take you through a pull-ups workout, based on my own training, that can be tailored to any level by adjusting the weight added or assistance added. For a detailed weekly training program, get my free Full-Body Workout Plan.

Warm-up: 5 minutes light cardio. 6-8 reps x 4 sets on the lat pull-down machine at a very easy weight. Rest 60-90 seconds between warm-up sets, lightly stretching the shoulders, chest, and back.

Heavy pull-ups: 5 reps x 5 sets, 2-min rest between sets.

  • The last rep of the 5 th set should be tough – almost to failure, but not quite.
  • Achieving the proper level of difficulty will require adding weight to a weight belt for advanced lifters. For beginners, do regular or assisted pull-ups so that the 5 th set is tough. To do assisted pull-ups, hang a resistance band from the bar and put one knee through it for extra support as you pull. As you improve over the weeks, use a band with increasingly less resistance.

Active rest: 5-7 minutes. Stay upright, shake out your arms, jog in place, get ready for the next phase.

Medium-weight pull-ups with chest-to-bar component: 5 reps pulling all the way to the chest (not just chin-over), followed immediately by 5 reps chin-over. 4 sets. 2-min rest between sets.

  • This is tough. Even advanced lifters may have to do pull-ups with some assistance

Active rest: 5-7 minutes.

Light-weight pull-ups: 20 reps, 2 sets, 3-min rest between sets.

  • For most, these will have to be assisted pull-ups. Even for folks who can do 20+ reps fresh, doing the 20 reps x 2 at this stage will be tough!

#2: Get plenty of rest between workouts

Given the intensity of training necessary for big gains in pull-ups, you need to rest for at least two full days before doing pull-ups again. I train pull-ups only twice a week – Monday and Friday. The other days I cross-train. Here’s my typical training week:

Tuesday: Running and bodyweight legs

Wednesday: Shoulder press, pushups, dips

Thursday: Running and bodyweight legs

Sunday: Rest or squats

I know of some people who train pull-ups every other day, or even every day. But they are often stuck on a plateau. To improve, you need to train hard and rest.

#3: Prioritize explosive reps over slow, steady, “feel the burn” reps.

A lot of lifters emphasize slow, “feel the burn” reps, keeping their muscles under tension for as long as possible. (The slow pull-up, front lever hold, and controlled negative are all examples.) There is nothing wrong with these exercises. They can be of great benefit. But if you want to learn to lift heavy and rep out, you have to also train explosively

Part of explosive training is doing chest-to-bar pull-ups in which you pull as high as you can (until the bar touches your chest.) What if you can’t pull that high? Easy: do your explosive training with band assistance (one knee through a resistance band hung from the pull-ups bar).

The point is that on each rep, you fire your bodyweight up as quick as you can. If you have good form, there’s no such thing as too fast on the way up. Here’s an example of explosive training:

Everyone does pull-ups in one way or another nowadays, whether they are strict, banded, kipping, jumping, or some other acrobatic variation that involves multiple pieces of inventive manufacturing. The question, then, is not whether or not you are training pull-ups, but rather are you training pull-ups correctly . There are many factors to consider, such as flexibility, volume vs. intensity, and advanced variations, so read on for more details.

Balance Is Key: Prep Strength AND Flexibility

A common theme in Gymnastic Strength Training TM is training for both strength and flexibility. Before we even discuss pull-ups, we are going to make sure that your lats are mobile and not chronically tight. For instance, if you can knock out several pull-ups with ease but cannot comfortably straighten your elbows or hold your arms overhead, then you are an injury waiting to happen. Strong lats and biceps, two of the biggest muscles involved in pull-ups, are often tight in adults who do not spend enough time stretching.

Note how all that is needed is a bar about hip height so that you can use your bodyweight to help release the excess tension in your lats and torso. Remember, if you have pain or range of motion issues in your elbow or shoulder, then training pull-ups without properly addressing your mobility first is like pouring fuel onto the fire. In that case, the question is not if you will get injured, but rather when you will get injured. Train smart er , and stretch your lats.

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First Things First: How to Get One

Now that you have adequately taken care of your flexibility, we can also start discussing your pull-up strength. Keep in mind that a large amount of physical preparation for pull-ups takes place when you dedicate the necessary time to master ring rows. Without ring rows, there is no advanced pulling or rope climb work down the road. Once you are ready, one of the best drills to start building the muscular strength and connective tissue integrity for pull-ups is a bent-arm chin hang.

The simplicity of this exercise does not make performing it, easy: this bent-arm chin hang will humble you quickly. Grip the bar with an underhand grip, then pull or jump yourself up so that your chin is clearly up above the bar. There should be no straining of the neck in this position to artificially elevate your chin above the bar. Remember, Choose the Path of Most Resistance when you are in the gym training to get stronger. Lock into this top position, hold, and spend some time accumulating volume at a slightly lower intensity.

Once you have mastered bent-arm chin hangs, your body will have the necessary strength to properly train pull-ups. While you already have experience with the top position, make sure that you start all the way at the bottom of a dead hang before you initiate any pulling motion. The first movement to take place should be scapular depression, or a pulling down of the shoulders. From here smoothly transition into bending your elbows until you find yourself fully above the bar similar to before (this time with an overhand grip). Pause briefly, then lower slowly with control until you are back in the bottom dead hang position. Repeat for the desired amount of sets and reps, and as always, to get stronger, increase sets and reps as you progress.

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Where Can I Go From Here?

What does advanced pull-up work look like? Most of the fitness world just says to add weight, but this misses out on a whole world of potential benefits from more complex pulling work. For instance, there are L Pull-ups and Bulgarian L Pull-ups just to name a few sweet skills you’ll soon be ready for . Each advanced progression carries with it particular benefits to core strength, shoulder range of motion, and rotator cuff strength, all things which you do not necessarily get from solely training weighted pull-ups. And if you are a super stud and have all your pull-ups mastered, then there is a whole realm of Rope Climbs for you to conquer, of course.

GymnasticBodies pull-up progressions will guide you towards mastery of basic pulling, excellent lat mobility, and even legless rope climbs; not to mention a stellar show-worthy upper body.