Get it? pull-UP? But seriously.
There's lots of reasons that having a bodyweight pull-up is useful. It's one of the simplest bodyweight movements, but it's also a crucial foundational piece for more advanced gymnastics. It's also an essential piece of trunk strength and stability, as well as upper back and grip strength. In a nutshell, it's hard to survive the zombie apocalypse if you can't pull your bodyweight up and over something.
It's also worth noting that weighted hollow-body position pull-ups are one of the very best abdominal exercises out there. Way better than sit-ups. You know, if abs are your thing or whatever. (http://www.researchgate.net/publication/24273642_Electromyographic_studies_in_abdominal_exercises_a_literature_synthesis/links/004635268039c6f793000000)
So, with all of these things in mind, we're starting a pull-UP club! The idea is that interested parties will declare that achieving a bodyweight pull-up is their goal. That's step 1. Step 2 is that there will be specific programming (see below) to help you achieve that goal. We will continue to do weighted pull-up work once a week in regular classes. Get to those classes. Two other days per week, you will do the extra programming after class on your own time. The homework will be short and should take you no longer than 10-15 mins. This will also all be posted on a special board in the gym so that you can see who else is partaking in the challenge and so that you can specifically track your homework and your band usage.
Looking to get your first pull-up? Start with this example and this program:
Let’s say my best pull-up right now is a Light Band plus Mini Strict pull-up. This means this pull-up is 100% legit chin over the bar: no reaching for the chin over bar – MAYBE I want to be even more strict and say this pull-up must be collarbone to bar. I must define for myself whether or not I will be doing just pronated grip (palms away) or just supinated grip (palms toward my face). Whichever one you pick, I would go for the one that is hardest (that will also make the one that is easier better in most cases).
On Monday: I will attempt to complete 10 singles at the Light Band plus Mini level. I need to rest as long as necessary to make these pull-ups happen OR I can make the pull-up slightly easier by adding a micro band or another mini band. Regardless, the 10 reps that I complete must be 100% legit reps and they should be relatively fast. At no point should I feel that I am stalling long enough for someone to yell at me to go faster. This part is CRITICAL – the program will not work with slow reps. I can just complete Monday, but Wednesday will also help.
On Wednesday: On Wednesday, I want to pick a band that allows me to do a hard, but fast set of 3. Think a step or two easier than your peak of 3. This might be the Average Band for me. If I am using the average band, I must complete a total of 8 x 3 pull-ups (8 sets of 3 reps of pull-ups) with the Average Band that are 100% legit – I can rest as long as I need to between sets. If I can complete 8 x 3, then the following week I will attempt to 6 x 4, then 5 x 5, then 4 x 6, then 3 x 8. Once I’ve reached this point, then I go back to the beginning with a more difficult band, or I can add an exact amount of weight on my back. If I choose the band option I can move to a Light Band plus Mini plus Micro combo for another 8 x 3. If for any reason this option is impossible for me to complete I can also begin this program’s process with 10 x 2. And then, work my up from there – again, with 100% Legit reps – where EACH of these reps should be smooth (not EASY, but not ever REALLY stalling).
Looking to get your first 10 strict pull-ups in a row?
Follow the same protocol as above but without the use of a band on Monday. Use bands if necessary for Wednesday's protocol.
Looking to get better at kipping pull-ups or chest to bar pull-ups?
This option is for those of you who already have strict pull-ups, but are not great at kipping or stringing together kipping pull-ups or chest-to-bar pull-ups If you don't yet have a bodyweight strict pull-up, get that first. Complete the same protocol using strict pull-ups on Mondays and kipping or chest-to-bar pull-ups on Wednesday. Additionally, if you are completing chest to bar pull-ups, try adding in one more day in the weekend where you complete 3 max attempts in a hold at the very top of the chest-to-bar pull-up and to keep yourself honest, attempt to hold an abmat between your chest and the pull-up bar as you hold. Use a buddy to place the abmat up there for you while you're getting set.
Looking to get better at doing kipping pull-ups for longer?
Pick a certain number of pull-ups that you want to proficiently to be able to do – let’s say, a total number that you want to be doable for you (150 chest to bar pull-ups? 30 kipping pull-ups?).
From there, pick a way of breaking up these reps that you can manage mentally. So, in the case of 150 chest-to-bar pull-ups, let’s say that you believe 10 chest-to-bar pull-ups at a time for the first 100 reps would be doable and from there, 10 sets of 5 reps. If it’s 30 kipping pull-ups, maybe you can manage thinking about doing 3 sets of 5 kipping pull-ups, and then 5 sets of 3 to complete the allotted reps.
Finally, choose a time that you would like to complete these by. An ideal time for 150 chest-to-bar pull-ups would be 7 minutes for men and 9 minutes for most women. Times below that are completely normal. For 100 kipping pull-ups 4-5 minutes for men and 6-7 minutes for most women are ideal. For 30 kipping pull-ups, under 1:30 is a great time for both genders.
Lastly, complete this total number of pull-ups broken up into sets one day of the week (preferably Monday) outside of the normal volume of pull-ups you might be doing in workouts of the day. So, on Monday, no matter how long the 30 kipping pull-ups take you in the sets and rep schemes that you’ve chosen, complete the reps you’ve allotted. Obviously, if you’ve over shot and 30 kipping pull-ups done in the format above takes an hour – you need to reassess your volume. At the start, no amount of pull-ups should take you more than 20 minutes to complete.
Also, do keep tabs on your hand health throughout this process because it will greatly affect your ability to train at all and your ability to progress within this program specifically. Use this article as a guide.