Getting your first pull-up is a milestone for many. Across the world, PR bells are ringing in gyms for Bob’s or Betty’s first legit pull-up, accompanied by high fives, chest bumps and a general feeling of victory and accomplishment by individuals who never believed they could accomplish this physical task. Likewise, the fire breathers in these gyms are trying to break their own personal records for max pull-ups and weighted pull-ups. Some of our military and law-enforcement populations are preparing in gyms for PT tests that require pull-ups as a physical requirement.
The pull-up is a great test of upper-body strength, as well as an individual’s relative strength to their body weight. Developing this strength can be done in an efficient and systematic manner to maximize results in the minimal amount of time. Whether you are going for your first pull-up, 100 unbroken or a bodyweight or weighted pull-up, I have highlighted a method to get you there fast and safely. This program is universally scalable with the use of various tension bands as well as the use of the legs to recruit the lower body to assist the movement.
Here are four ways to scale the pull-up without the use of bands:
1. The Inverted Row.
With a barbell in the rack (at roughly the height used to perform a bench press), hang under the bar with straight legs, heels together and hips forward in a globally extended position. With your shoulders depressed and scapulas retracted, row the bar to your chest. Not possible? Plant your feet flat on the ground, knees bent at 90 degrees, and hips forward to perform the row. Still not possible? Repeat the previous position, but rest your hips on the ground, and in one motion, raise your hips up and finish with a pull. The bar should touch around sternum height.
2. Partner-Assisted Strict Pull-Up.
The glaring problem with bands is that they provide the most assistance at the start of the pull and leave most of the work at the top to finish. In many cases, it’s the top, rather than the bottom, that is weakest for an athlete. You can remedy this strength-curve issue by manually spotting strict reps with a partner. From the hips, your spotter can aid in pulling you through the range of motion only enough to do the job, thus becoming a smart band.
You can build strict strength through the entirety of the range of motion by stepping up onto a box directly into the chin-over-the-bar finish position. With a tempo of a three- or four-count, you will lower through the entire range of motion in control (or as far a possible). This is a useful tool but best applied on conservative rep ranges because of the eccentric loading.
4. The Ring Row.
For similar reasons to the inverted row, this can be a great tool. Most specifically, though, the challenge of the ring row can be adjusted in real time to ultra-specific degrees of difficultly by simply walking your feet forward to make the rep harder or farther away for more difficultly. This makes for a dynamic training experience in which you can start a workout in one fashion and adjust as volume and fatigue mount.
Snatch Pull + Hang Snatch Pull + Hang Snatch (8 x 1)
1 Complex Every 1:30for 8 sets.
You have 8 rounds of this. Slinging heavy weight with poor form only yield poor results. Start on the conservative end, and gradually work your way up.
*Add 5-10lbs per every 2 successful completed complexes.
This is a complex heavy on the "hang" position of the snatch, so no, you cannot drop the bar until after completing the hang snatch.
Metcon (AMRAP - Rounds and Reps)
10 Minute AMRAP:
20 KB Swings