Pullups are a staple in many lifter’s arsenal, but a lot of novices struggle in bringing their chin above the bar for multiple reps.
Given the current situation, a lot of people won’t be able to progressive overload in a vertical pulling motion as lat pulleys won’t be available.
Pullup bars, however, are a cheap alternative for many as they try to stay in shape amid lockdown restrictions.
But some may struggle in getting in proper work because they can’t do strict pullups or more than a few reps.
This is what you need to do:
1) Lose Fat
The quickest way to do more pullups is to lose fat — you’re literally lightening the load.
In fact, the quickest way to become more athletic — period — is by losing fat.
You will be able to complete more pullups, dips, bodyweight movements, sprint, look better, etc.
Fat is extremely mechanically inefficient; even losing a few pounds of fat can go a long way in boosting your bodyweight movements.
Getting down to 10-12% bodyfat may be hard for some, but it’s often referred to as the athletic sweetspot.
Of course, many athletes are above 12%, but for optimal performance, you need lower bodyfat percentages.
Don’t get too low as it may negatively affect your strength and testosterone levels.
Below 8-9% bodyfat can negatively affect your athletic performance.
In the past, we’ve argued that losing body fat is the single best way to get more athletic fast.
Herculean Strength has several posts that can help you get well on your way to a better body composition.
2) Cluster Sets
Taken from: https://herculeanstrength.com/the-no-equipment-bodyweight-workout/
A cluster set is a low-rep, high volume style of training with short rest periods between reps.
Let’s assume you can only do 4 pushups, failing on the 5th.
Try a schema of 10 sets of 3 reps, with 15-30 seconds rest between sets. You can even do something along the lines of 20 sets of 2 reps. You can get really creative!
That way you work in a decent amount of volume while training close to failure.
The short rest period between sets while working close to failure will rapidly increase resistance.
Don’t forget to progressive overload each session by adding more reps or total resistance.
One of my favorite 15 minute workouts for my upper back is a pyramid cluster set for pullups adhering to the following rep structure: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.
By following a cluster set rep pattern, you can make very quick gains on lagging lifts.
Assuming you don’t have access to a complete gym, cheating can help you go a long way in adding total reps to your pullups.
Say you can only do 3 strict pullups; kip, jump, or use a reverse band to add more reps onto your set.
Turn 3 strict pullups into a set of 6-8 reps by kipping (not butterfly pullups you see in Crossfit), jumping off the ground/platform into a pullup, or using reverse bands to eke out more reps.
Consider it a form of dropset — similar to cluster sets.
Do these three things and I guarantee you will be able to do more pullups in 4-6 weeks.
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