Pull-ups From Zero To Hero by Nathan Cragg

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This program can increase your pullup strength dramatically. Even if you can't do one now. I created this on a recent homeland defense deployment, when I realized how mis-balanced most of us were. The back should be trained just as much as chest and chances are you've overtrained your chest so long you may have to concentrate solely on your backside for awhile. "But I don't wanna give up my daily bench routine." Well guess what nancyboy, chances are if you train your back and balance out your body, your bench will increase. Getting into the whys and how this works will need a whole other article.

Pullups- The ultimate test of upper body strength. It's been said if you are good at pullups or chinups, you can probably sprint well. Why is this? Relative strength.

Relative strength is your strength to body weight ratio. Example two soldiers can both squat 350 for a one rep max. Soldier A weighs 220 pounds. Soldier B weighs 155. Soldier B has more relative strength. And chances are he will out endure his heavier counterpart.

It's also been rumored a person good at pullups or chins will have pretty defined abs. Test it yourself. Go to your local gym and look at the guys adding weight to their chins. Then look at the frat boys who are more worried about their abs, but will never see them. Train for function and form will follow. However the reverse is rarely true.

A brief mention of the basics is needed before we get into the program. If you have followed the writing of Pavel Tsatsouline, then you probably have a good idea of how to do good pullups and chins.

For starters a pullup is defined as having your palms pronanted or facing away from the body. (Others know this simply as the "hard" way, but that will soon be changed after finishing my program!) A chinup has the palms supinated or facing towards the body. I prefer the hands simply "hook" onto the bar with the thumbs next to the fingers, not curled around the bar. Now for chins this is not needed. From a functional standpoint the thumbless grip is needed for those whose line of work or adventureous spirit will take them to climbing windows, ledges and such.

Onto the pull. As you are pulling up, feel your elbows drawing in towards your ribs. Take between 1-2 seconds pulling up. Keep pulling till you can touch your neck or better yet, your chest to the bar. Yes it's hard, but it will turn you into a wildabeast that nobody will mess with. After you have pulled yourself up, pause for around one second, then lower yourself for 4 seconds. Again this will distinguish you between the ken's and barbie's of the world. And yes it's not easy! Once at the bottom pause for a second getting a full stretch at the bottom. That's all the way down, not half, not 3/4's, but all the way until you feel tension being released from your body. Another reason most good pullupers have good abs is because the pullup works the entire core. Something the lat pulldown only wished it could do.

Now onto the program!

Mon 3 sets X RM
Tue 1 set X RM
Wed 4 sets X RM
Thurs 2 sets X RM
Fri 5 sets X RM
Sat&Sun Extra if needed and feeling fresh, also spinal decompression hangs( the bottom position held for 10-60 sec)

RM-Repetition Maximum-As many reps as you can do in perfect form. Once form deteriates, terminate the set.

All sets should preferably be performed throughout the day if possible. They can be done on bars, underneath stairs, on a door with a towel to protect hands on top, or any other devious items you can hang from. Needless to say the changing room doors at Victorias Secret are probably not a wise choice. The doors aren't strong enough of course.

The progression will continue like this: 

Week 1 RM for all sets Ex: 5 reps
Week 2 RM+1 Ex:6 reps for all sets
Week 3 RM+2 Ex:7 reps for all sets
Week 4 RM Ex: Back to 5 reps
Week 5 RM (Old RM+1) Ex:6 reps
Week 6 RM+1 Ex:7 reps for all sets
Week 7 RM+2 Ex:8 reps for all sets
Week 8 RM Ex: Back to 6 reps

 

This periodized plan goes off the basis that the average trainee can gain 1 rep to his RM every month. Some may take 2 weeks or two months but it will increase. The plan makes for two steps forward, one step back increasing your RM by one each month. This may not appear to be much, but your total volume on Fri's will increase by 5 reps. I had a guy in my unit go from none to 2 and a half in the just first week using this plan.

Progressions- When you can complete 10 or more reps per set, or can already do more than ten, it's time to add resistance. If in the gym the easiest choices are dip belts that allow plates to be loaded on to you. Or you can stick a dumbell between your feet or ankles. For mililtary and law enforcement, I highly reccomend wearing your full battle rattle or gear. Or at a minimum flak jacket for military, kevlar vest for LE. For firefighters, you can try wearing your full turnout gear or partial till you work up to it. And for you average Joe's or anybody looking for pain, slap a kettlebell at the end of your foot. That way when the resistance becomes to much, you can just tip your foot and it will fall off.

Progressions up to doing one full pullup- Have a friend or training partner pick up your feet and assisst you. You can also have them only assisst you up and you control yourself down. No training partner? No problem. Use a bench, chair or elastic band to hold your feet up. Also you may wanna start off with chins before moving to pullups. Another progression is doing inverted rows. Inverted rows can be done off a pullup bar, monkeys bars, a barbell set in a power rack, pretty much anything about three or four feet off the ground. You then put your feet a distance out from the bar and pull yourself from underneath keeping your feet on the ground. You can then progress this to feet on bench, feet on swiss ball, and so on. And for the final progression is to use one of those pullup/dip machines in the gym that take a percentage of your weight away and assisst you. I really don't like these though because it takes you out of the natural movement pattern, which takes the load off of the muscles and almost eliminates the core, which as we said before is one of the main benefits of the pullup

Submitted by DMorgan on Sun, 09/02/2007 - 10:32am.

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