If you’re after that classic V-shaped upper body, with wide, full lats that taper down to a tiny waist, then you’ve got no option - you gotta’ get good at pull ups. Often referred to as the upper body squat, the pull up is the #1 exercise for lat width. It’s also an awesome fully body muscle building and strength training movement that will add mass, power and thickness all over your physique while also enhancing muscular endurance.
The problem is that a lot of guys suck at doing the body weight pull up. If you’re reading this, then you’re probably one of them. If you’re wondering ‘How can I improve my pull ups?’, then you’re in the right place. Maybe you can pump out 10 on your first set, struggle to squeak out 7 on your second and then bottom out at a rep range of 5 or less on set three. Well, those numbers are not going to get you the type of upper body that you’re after.
In this article, you’re about to discover how to improve your pull ups fast.
Our goal is to show you how to improve pull ups to at least 20 reps - that’s proper full range of motion muscle building reps with no kipping - in a single set. We’ll lay it out step by step.
A Word on Self Belief
To succeed with this ‘how to do more pull ups’ training plan, you need to believe that you can do it. So, forget the negativity that you’ve been filling your brain with that you suck at doing the pull up. Accept as a given that you will be doing 20 reps in a row in 20 days and take that mental and physical strength into your training. Stay strong and you will see results!
Fuel for Success
Providing your body with the nutrients its need to get the job is an important element in achieving success.There are two products elements in achieving success.There are two products that will boost your results on this pull up program:
Creatine is used to refuel your body’s ATP system, which is the main energy source you’ll use during this pull up program. The research shows that taking 5 grams before your workout can help you to train harder for longer.
Step One: Inverted Row Progression
The place to start to improve your number of pull up is with a barbell set up at shoulder level on a rack. You are going to follow an inverted row progression that will train you to involve your core in the pull up movement. Grab the bar with the same hand width as if you were doing a pull up and then perform a row by extending to arm’s length and then puling your torso back to the bar.
Now let go with one hand so that you are performing one armed rows. Have your body directly alongside the bar so that you are standing tall at the start and finish of the move. As you pull back to the bar, make sure that your elbow remains out to the side of the body. Do not allow your torso to twist; it should be straight on to the bar throughout the movement. Pull with your upper back muscles.
Perform 3 sets of 10-15 reps of this one arm row. Then, as you get stronger, move your feet a few inches past the bar so that you are pulling at a greater angle.
Move through 3 body position progressions until you are virtually pulling your body straight up to the bar.
Perform these one arm inverted rows every other day for 2 weeks.
Step Two: Performing Pull Ups Properly
In order to increase the number of pull ups you can do, you first need to learn how to do them properly. A major reason why many people struggle with this exercise is because they allow their body to be too loose when they are hanging from the bar. This looseness creates energy leaks that sap away your strength. To prevent them, follow these cues when you are hanging from the bar.
- Hang from a bar, keeping your legs straight and slightly angled forward from the hips.
- Grip the bar as deeply into the meat of your palms as possible.
- Contract your quads and keep them tight throughout.
- Squeeze your legs together.
- Tense your abs.
- Point your toes down.
- Look up at the bar.
- Imagine that you are pulling the bar down to your body while driving your elbows up.
- Reach up to the bar with your chest as you pull your body up with your upper back muscles.
Step Three: 20-Day Pull Up Progression
Now that we’ve got our pull up form on point, and completed inverted row progressions, we are ready to begin a science based pull up progression to get to that 20 rep per set goal.
This progression will be broken up into 5 training blocks. Each block consists of 4 days of pull ups, starting with a pull up test. That gives us a total of 20 days to complete this progression.
The only equipment you’ll need is a pull up bar and a stopwatch. Let’s break it down day by day:
Pull Up Test - Simply perform as many reps as you can with good form.
Then rest for 2 minutes.
Now set your stopwatch for 5 minutes and pump out as many reps as possible with good form. Rest as needed but strive to get the number as high as you can before the time runs out.
Today you are going to start with chin ups rather than the pull up. With chin ups, you have your palms facing toward you. Chin ups are easier exercise than the pull up. Your goal here is to get twice as many reps as you did for your pull up test yesterday. Again, you can pause as needed. There is no stopwatch to work with on this one, so just focus on good form and hitting your number.
The second part of today’s progression has you going back to the pull up. This time, your goal is to rep out 40% more reps than you got with yesterday’s test. It may take several sets of pull ups to reach your target.
Today, you will repeat the same pattern as yesterday but with a different initial pull up variation. This time you will be doing the Commando Pull Up. In this exercise you are standing side on to the bar and grabbing it with a palms facing neutral grip. Pull up to one side of the bar on one rep and then alternate on the next. Once again, your goal here is to get double the number of reps you achieved on your Day One test.
Next you go back to the conventional pull up, with the goal of adding 50% to your first day test total. Once again, you can take 2 or 3 sets to get to your new total as required.
Today you will begin with a dead hang exercise designed to strengthen and build endurance through the scapular area as well as your grip strength. Simply hang from the bar at arm’s length. Now depress your shoulder blades and pull your scapulae down and back. Hang in this position as long as you can, timing yourself on your stopwatch.
Once you have completed your max time dead hang, it’s back to the regular pull up. This time, your goal is to get 60% mor reps than you did during your Day One test. Remember, that you can rest as needed on your way to achieving your total.
You have now competed the first of 5 pull up progression training phases. For the next four phases, you will follow this exact same pattern, starting with a test day and then performing the same exercises as you did on Days 2-4. Of course, the difference will be in the progression. On your Day Five test, you will achieve more reps than you did on Day One. Now all of your targets for that phase will be based around that new number.
When it comes to the dead hangs that you perform on the fourth day of each phase, make it your goal to improve by at least 5 seconds each time.
At the end of twenty days, you will have completed 5 four-day phases. During each succeeding phase, you will have been challenging yourself with progressively more repetitions on each and every exercise. Now, on Day 21, it is time for you to step up to the plate and reveal the results of all of that hard work.
You are going to repeat the two-phase test that you did on the first day. The first part involves doing as many reps as you can in one single set with no rest and with good form. You should confidently be able to get twenty reps!
The second part of the test involves setting your timer for 5 minutes and performing as many reps of pull ups as you can. Just as on Day One, you can rest as needed. However, your goal here is to, once again, pump out twice as many reps as you did during your Day One test. Once you achieve that goal (and you will!), give yourself a massive high five - you have now officially mastered the pull up!