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How to do multiple Pull Ups

first pull ups


To see a video version of this topic, check out Episode 8 - Coach Seán On: Your First Pull Up

Pull Ups (or chin ups, depending on your grip) are a great test of strength (in terms of relative strength i.e strength in comparison to your bodyweight, it is the go to exercise). It's an exercise that a lot of people would love to bang out multiple reps with ease but can be very daunting to attempt. Follow these simple steps below to guarantee an increase in your pull ups!

1. Always warm up with a back exercise before attempting a pull up. After a complete warm up, I like to do a cable row to prepare my body for the demands of a pull ups, gradually increasing the weight.

2. If you can't do a single pull up, perform assisted pull ups for the first few sessions ONLY! Assisted pull ups will not help you increase your pull ups over time. 

3. Attempt pull ups without an assist. Whether you do a few or none at all, prop yourself back up and try lower yourself down for up to 5 seconds. Repeat this until you lower yourself/pull up count equals 8

4. If you are struggling with phase 3 and can't perform more than 3 pull ups, stick with the next point Otherwise move on to number 5. Hold the pull up position for up to 5 seconds at different stages of a pull up. Example would be near the top of the pull up and then rest. Near the bottom with a slight bend in elbows (so that we are not just hanging and have core control) and at the half way point. Rest for 30 seconds after each 5 seconds hold and repeat. After a few sessions, go back to step number 3

5. Attempt pull ups at the start of every set before reverting to the "eccentric" lowering yourself phase of 5 seconds. So if you can manage 4-5 reps but are struggling to get any more, do eccentric pull ups while still having the ability to blast out one more pull up in the tank. If you go to absolute failure before attempting eccentric pull ups, you limit the amount of eccentric pull ups you can do, future reps of pull ups to increase your strength and, most importantly, injury to a fatigued and exhausted muscle while still working under high stress.

6. Lets say your pull up count is up to around 10. Do you keep trying to add extra reps in each session? You may have answered yes. And it's not the wrong answer. But if you were able to squat your body weight easily, you would start to advanced the movement. So why not do the same for pull ups? Add a small bit of weight on to your pull ups and try attempt your 10 reps. This will make you stronger and increase your pull up count while also saving you time in reps and effectiveness.

Without question, this technique has helped me and my clients from not being able to perform a single pull up to multiple! 

Pet Peeve: Especially if you're starting of on the assisted for the first few sessions, ALWAYS straighten out your elbows and go through the FULL RANGE of motion!