How To Get It Up, Pt 2

Last time we ran you through a series of potential pitfalls that have kept you from pull-up greatness and solutions to those pitfalls. This time we’re gonna give you programming strategies to overcome your issues and allow you to get it up.

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Putting it all together:

You’ve checked your mobility against a wall to see if you’re stiff as a board or need to take care of how your core and upper-body communicate. You’ve attempted some pull-ups with assistance and have chosen an assistance method that you like.

Yeah, we all know which one you chose

Yeah, we all know which one you chose

You’ve had a video shot or used the eye of a trusted source to be sure that you don’t look like Quasimodo scaling a cliff-side whilst getting over the bar. You’ve used this information to determine where the weak links are. Let’s put the solutions to work.

You have a couple of choices for how to program in your pull-up work:

 
Option 1:

You can train the weak link(s) in your chain a few times per week, and train it fairly hard. You will only perform perfect reps, but you’ll keep going back until frustration and fatigue leave you rocked.

If you have an Unloaded Motor Control Deficit this may mean repetitively Creeping, Planking, doing Pushups, and Wheelbarrowing for short distances, brief times, and low reps until you’re spent. For the record, this is an awesome workout.

If you have a Relative Strength Deficit or a Loaded Motor Control Deficit, consider a target of 8-10 sets of 2-3 perfect reps of Assisted Pull-Ups. Reduce assistance as performance improves.

(A nice addition with either motor control deficit is the kettlebell getup. If you know how to do this movement, i.e., you have spent time being attentive to things like scapulae packing in the elbow and post positions, definitely add it in. If you’re not familiar with the getup, consider learning it, but don’t put your training on ice while you’re at it.)

Here is a version with cervical dissociation:

 
Option 2:

Train the weak link(s) every day with lower intensity. Focus only on perfect reps, but don’t approach fatigue. This will require a little more auto-regulation, but if you challenge yourself gently each day, this high quality work will add up fast. Those who need more structure tend to do better with Option 1.

Regardless of which method you choose, perform negative/eccentric pull-ups 3x per week (preferably on non-subsequent days). If you choose Option 1, do them on your pull-up training days.

 
Eccentric/Negative Pull-ups:

Either use a box or jump to the bar so that you start the pull-up at the top instead of the bottom. Your chest will be right near the bar and your posture will be good (i.e., your chest will be up, your lower back will be relatively flat, and you won’t be doing anything weird with your legs). You will find that doing this properly requires a surprising amount of kinesthetic awareness and abdominal strength. Now s-l-o-w-l-y lower yourself down. Try counting to four (“one-one thousand” style) on the way down. Hell, try counting to eight. Fight all the way down until you’re hanging with straight arms. Do 5-8 reps per session (not necessarily per set).

I lost the video of me doing this, so here is a video of our client Shari doing them at 6 months pregnant. Yes, that’s the sound of excuses evaporating…

 
Now get pullin’!

Have questions? Let’s hear ‘em.

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