One thing we pride ourselves on at Go Primal is helping people develop pull-ups. The average male in the U.S. can barely do a single unassisted pull-up. The average woman, zero!
Of the 400 members we have over 60% can do unassisted pull-ups for multiple reps.
Approximately 50% of those athletes did not have pull-ups when they began training here less than a year ago.
Here are some of the principles we use to develop exceptional pull-up strength at our gym.
1. Train pull-ups a minimum of 2x/week and a maximum of 3x/week. Any more or less is unproductive.
2. A minimum threshold of 20 reps per workout is required to see significant gains.
3. Keep reps low and sets high. For example, 20×1, 10×3, 10×2, etc.
4. Do away with band assisted pull-ups. If we do use bands it’s only the thinnest band, as the athlete is still forced to move the majority of their bodyweight. If a significant amount of band assistance is needed we prefer ring work progressions, eccentric, hangs, etc.
5. Wrap your thumbs around the bar and SQUEEZE! Squeezing the bar improves recruitment of the forearm and shoulder musculature and improves overall pulling strength.
6. Vary grips. The predominant grip used for pull-ups is the pronated (overhand) grip. There are at least 6 other grip variations that can be used to improve overall pull-up conditioning. This too helps the athlete avoid overuse injuries associated with using just one motor pattern (i.e. elbow tendonitis)
7. Train through a full-range of motion. Too often I see athletes neglecting either the top or bottom portion of the range of motion. Not only does this stifle strength at the end ranges, it’s also a fast track to extremity pain.
Sample Program – 4 weeks (If you have zero pull-ups)
10×2 Assisted Chin-ups with thin red band (20 total).
3×3 Eccentrics (jump to the top and lower yourself for a 5 sec negative each rep)
After 4 weeks try 10×1 unassisted, progress to 10×2 unassisted, progress to 10×3 unassisted
Follow this program and simple tips and you’ll see your pull-up performance skyrocket.