First off, there are a lot of different pull-up programs out. It’s free information and the only difficulty you’ll have in starting a program is discovering the difficulty in picking out which program you are going to follow. Below are a few links to give you an idea of what I am talking about.
The problem I see with these programs is it’s easy to hit a wall. The only thing you can do is repeat workouts you’ve already completed and you can forget hitting a PR on your pull-ups until you climb that wall.
What works with this program is I’m telling you to start out with doing less pull-ups than you can already do. Think of it as building off your base.
If you’re at all familiar with Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 strength program you already know what I’m talking about.
Pull-Up Tools for Success
Below is a list of items you will need for this program:
How It Works
This program is built around 5 sets of max-effort pull-ups. The goal is to take your 5 set max and turn it into a 4 set max, 3 set max, etc. over a 4 week period.
Between each set you are allotted 1 minute and 30 seconds of rest. Why not 2 minutes rest between sets? Because if you rest 2 minutes and then start a day where you might rest 30 seconds less, the body isn’t prepared for the muscle fatigue.
Also, if you only rest 1 minute between sets, you can’t recover in time to make your next pull worth anything. It’s the best of both worlds by resting in between 1 and 2 minutes.
Keep in mind that the end goal is to increase your max rep pull-ups without focusing on your 1 set max.
Like any other program, your journey begins by testing where you currently are. Remember, you’re not testing your 1 set max, but you’re 5 set max.
To illustrate, our athlete Cletus, shows up on “Test Day” and hits a 5 set max of 30 pull-ups. Now 30 is Cletus magic number and the program is now built off of this 5 set max as follows:
|Week 1||Reps||Set 1||Set 2||Set 3||Set 4||Set 5|
As in the example above, Cletus hit a total of 30 pull-ups over 5 sets on his initial test day with sets of 9, 6, 5, 6 and 4 respectively.
When Cletus begins Day 2 of Week 1 he will attempt to obtain 10 less pull-ups than his current 5 set max in the least amount of sets possible. However, as shown in the example, should Cletus obtain the number of prescribed reps mid-set, he will not stop his set. Cletus will complete the set until exhaustion, and then stop.
Personal Records (PR’s)
PR’s are the beautiful gem in this program. With this 5 set max scheme, you can obtain a PR in a number of ways:
- Total reps in set 1
- Total reps in set 2
- Total reps in set 3
- Total reps in set 4
- Total reps in set 5
- Number of reps in least amount of sets
- Number of sets to obtain most amount of reps
With the ability to obtain PR’s throughout the program, your motivation to keep going should continue pushing you to move forward. Nothing is worse than going through the motions in a pull-up program. Pull-ups are hard and if you aren’t motivated to do them it is so easy to quit.
In the next example, Day 2 comes around and Cletus hit one less rep with 8 pull-ups on his 1st set but came back with 7 reps on his 2nd set and 6 reps on his 3rd set. Though he was unable to PR his 1st set, he was able to set PR’s on the 2nd and 3rd set.
Cletus also set a PR of 21 reps in 3 sets, one more rep over 3 sets than he obtained on test day.
|Week 1||Reps||Set 1||Set 2||Set 3||Set 4||Set 5|
Check out Week 2:
|Week 2||Reps||Set 1||Set 2||Set 3||Set 4||Set 5|
As you can see, the beginning of week 2 starts out with 10 less pull-ups than Cletus achieved on test day and then the amount of reps increased by 2 each day. Here is yet another opportunity to PR as Cletus attempts to surpass 20, 22 and 24 reps more quickly than he did in week 1.
This time round on the above example 20 rep day, he hits one more pull-up than he did the prior week. The 22 rep day is a big day because 25 pull-ups are hit in 3 sets, a 1 rep PR from Day 4, Week 1.
PR’s are endless. You may not hit a PR every workout but the opportunities to do so are available. Again, the reason PR’s are such a big deal is because those are what will keep you in the program when your 1st set max isn’t going anywhere.
You’ll soon see that you will hit PR’s quicker on your 3rd, 4th and 5th sets well before you PR on your 1st set. This is normal and shows you you’re generating muscle endurance. This muscle endurance will soon transfer to your 1st set and Boom!
So, what if you can already hit 20 strict pull-ups? Let me first say, “Well done.” You’ll want to keep this endurance up so investing in a dip belt is a good idea. Add some weight to your belt and give this workout a shot.
Same rules apply and you’ll stay nice and strong. If you’ve got your 20 strict pull-ups already, you can also apply this routine to other body weight exercises such as handstand push-ups and ring dips. Find your weakness and pursue it.
If you are interested in this program and want to see more on how this program is laid out, you can download the template below.