Another common question I get on pull-up training is whether it’s safe to train them if you have an injury or a past injury. It seems that someone is always wondering if their “old shoulder injury” will prevent them from doing pull-ups, or if that little ache in their elbow that flares up once in awhile means they should avoid pull-up training altogether.
So, this Q+A article will seek to answer the following questions…
- Can I do pull-ups or chin-ups if I am injured or was injured, and if so, what’s the best way to go about it?
- If I have a past injury that still bothers me from time-to-time, how do I know if it’s safe to train with pull-ups?
- If I have a pre-existing condition and/or pain when exercising, how should I approach pull-up training?
Let’s get real for a minute here. Nobody, and I mean nobody starts an exercise program with a clean slate. We all have postural/structural issues to deal with, to one degree or another, whether known or unknown to us. Give me a few minutes, and I’ll find a whole bunch of issues and limitations in any one of my client’s body’s. We all have a lifetime of physical baggage. And I’m no different either – there are many issues I have to keep an extra-close eye on when I’m training. That’s just the nature of life. So, it’s not so much a question of IF you have a pre-existing condition that may or may not contraindicate exercise. It’s a question of “how bad is it?”
Fortunately, it’s not that hard to figure out if pull-up training would be safe or not.
Continue reading How to Approach Pull-up Training When You’re Injured
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve run into over the years – either at the gym or online – who have hit a pull-up training plateau. They may come from all different backgrounds and from all walks of life, but they all share a similar story. Their pull-up progress is stuck. And a lot of these people have been stuck at a pull-up plateau for years.
Here’s a message I got recently from a fellow named, Bob…
QUESTION: ”I’m 55, exercise 5 days a week and can do 10 pull ups…but I’ve hit a plateau. How do I get over the hump as I’d like to be able to do 25 pull ups and break my current gym record?” – Bob B.
Well, that’s one way to do it…partner-assisted pull-ups.
ANSWER: Like Bob, many people get stuck in their pull-up training at some point. Maybe they can do 15 pull-ups, and have been able to for years, but they just can’t-for-the-life-of-them do 16. Obviously, that can be pretty frustrating. And so, today, I’m going to present three advanced strategies to break through a pull-up training plateau. But first, let’s get a couple of things out of the way so that we’re crystal clear.
Firstly, if you are at an advanced level, then pull-up progress generally comes very slowly. A beginner might notice a measurable increase in strength (and even reps) within a few days of good training, and certainly within a few weeks. And if you are a beginner, and aren’t getting measurable results from week to week, then something is probably wrong.
On the other hand, an advanced trainee might train for several weeks or even months before adding another single repetition to their max. To put it simply, it’s generally a lot easier to get from 3 to 4 reps than it is to get from 23 to 24 reps. So, the better you get, the harder it gets.
And this makes sense, too. I mean, elite powerlifters might spend several months trying to add a few pounds to their max squat, deadlift, or bench press. Whereas a beginner may double their max in a matter of months or even much sooner. And so, if you’re an elite pull-up trainee already, then don’t expect to be making fast gains from week to week. And fair warning that the better you get at them, the harder it will get to improve and the slower your results will come.
Also, and this is important, being elite at pull-ups can mean different things for different people because it is a bodyweight exercise and we all have different bodies. Likewise, we all have our strengths and weaknesses, and some people just aren’t cut out for high-rep pull-up performance for the same reason why some people make it into the Olympics and others don’t. So, a set of 30 pull-ups may be considered elite for one person, whereas a set of 15 reps might be elite for another. It just depends on what your peak potential is in this given exercise.
Continue reading 3 Advanced Strategies to Break a Pull-up Training Plateau (Q+A)
How to Nail Your First Pull-up or Chin-up Even if You Can Barely Hang From the Bar
“How do I get my first pull-up?” is probably one of the most frequently asked questions I’ve received over the years, and I just got another one last week from a gal named Reeze…
QUESTION: ”I have always wanted to be able to do a pull-up. While I have no injuries, I am extremely weak as well as a woman in my 50s. I can’t even pull myself up at all, not even an inch! Is there help for me?” -Reeze
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Anyone with two good arms can get better at pull-ups – period. It doesn’t matter if you’re male, female, old, young, fat or fit. With proper training, practically anyone can work up to performing pull-ups without assistance. Yes – just like they do ‘em in the Marine Corps. Shouting “Ooh Rah” is optional, of course.
Now, obviously, that doesn’t mean that getting better at pull-ups is easy – quite the opposite, in fact. It’s actually a very challenging exercise for people from all walks of life – and of all shapes and sizes, too. And for some, it may seem darn-near impossible to achieve. In fact, many people have spent their entire life being unable to do one.
However, if you have enough desire and the will to succeed, and you decide ahead-of-time that you’re going to work hard and persevere when the going gets tough, then it’s only a matter of time before you nail your first pull-up – with excellent technique, I might add. Here are a few simple things you can do to make that happen sooner than later.
Continue reading The Top 3 Things You Can do to Nail Your First Pull-up (Q+A)
Now, you already know that women CAN do pull-ups, right? Ok, good. But did you also know that a lot of older men can perform very impressive feats of pull-up strength, too? It’s true. More seasoned trainees (aka old dudes), can get really good at pull-ups – assuming they train properly. And hey, no offense intended by the phrase “old guys.” If I’m lucky enough, I’ll get to be one someday, and I hope I can keep exercising like some of these dudes can.
Below, you’ll find some men who may be old in years, but are young at heart, and are in better shape than most men half their age. In fact, all of these men would put the average guy to shame with these feats of strength.
Here are 10 Old Dudes Who Rock At Pull-ups and Chin-ups
This 84 year old man does an incredible 18 chin-ups. Most men in their prime couldn’t even come close to that performance.
This 68-year old does 8 pull-ups with excellent technique.
Continue reading Old Guys Can Do Pull-ups, Too!
You know, I’m sick and tired of all the sexism, brainwashing, and fear-mongering that has pervaded the fitness community. I’m tired of women being told they’re weak, shouldn’t strength train, and can’t do hard exercises like pull-ups and chin-ups among others. Or, even worse, that they shouldn’t even try to get stronger.
I’m also sick of hearing the myth that women will somehow magically “bulk up” and practically turn into the Incredible Hulk just by looking at a pull-up bar, thinking about lifting weights, or otherwise exerting themselves against any resistance whatsoever. Somehow, our culture has convinced many women that trying to do these things is unladylike, and will make them less attractive or even undesirable. What a bunch of you know what.
Listen. These negative beliefs are harming women in more ways than just physically. And today, I’d like to present my response to the myth that women can’t do pullups. So…
Here are 20 Women Who CAN Do Pull-ups and Make Them Look Easy
Women CAN perform difficult exercises such as pull-ups. Like this young lady, Crystal West, who manages to do 39 reps in one set at the age of 46. Yep. That’s pretty amazing if you ask me.
And coincidentally, here’s another 46-year old who nails 18 pull-ups in her laundry room of all places. And you can be the judge on whether or not she’s gotten big and bulky from all that strength training she’s done over the years.
Continue reading Women can’t do Pull-ups? Watch them.
How to Enhance Your Pull-up and Chin-up Strength in a Matter of Weeks Without Even Breaking a Sweat by Using a Twist on a Classic Russian Training Method to get Stronger and Rapidly Increase Your Pull-up Numbers
Over the years, I’ve discovered a number of key components that are essential to pull-up training success, that unfortunately, most people either don’t know about, or at the very least, don’t use, and thus, they perpetually struggle with exercises like pull-ups among others.
And so, two years ago, I ran an experiment on my website by releasing my very own pull-up training program online – a stripped-down, do-it-yourself version of a general template I had been using with my personal training clients over the years. I wanted to not only provide a great program to my readers, but also to put my unique training methods “out there” for the world at large and see what happens.
I learned a lot of things from this experiment, but one thing that really stood out was that the vast majority of people who used my program dramatically increased their pull-up strength during the first month of the program using a strategy called the Grease the Groove technique (aka GTG), which was popularized in the West by Russian strength coach, Pavel Tsatsouline. And in this article, I’m going to outline a couple of ways you can tweak the GTG technique to maximize your results when using it.
The basic premise behind the GTG technique is to perform an exercise at a sub-maximal effort as often as possible throughout the day for multiple days each week. The goal is to do as many easy repetitions as possible throughout the course of each day, and gradually increase your total daily score over the course of each week and the entire GTG phase. There’s a lot more to it than that, but that’s the GTG technique in a nutshell.
Now, this is a training protocol I had been using for years – both personally, and with my clients – and decided to include it in my program, except I put a unique twist on the Grease the Groove method. Namely, I included some brief instructions on how to self-regulate your intensity level in order to optimize your results, which is one of the many things you can do to increase the potential results from using the traditional GTG technique.
After releasing that beta-version of my pull-up training program almost two and a half years ago, the results started pouring in, and have been trickling in ever since.
Continue reading The Fastest Way to Increase Your Pull-up Strength in a Short Period of Time
How to do Tricep Dips on the Parallel Bars with the Most Efficient Technique Possible to Maximize Your Performance and Help Prevent Injuries.
Can you spot the four technique problems?
Most people think they know how to perform tricep dips simply because they’ve seen them done before or have at least taken a quick peek at some photos like the ones on the left. And truth be told, some people get the gist of it without too much trouble. The problem is that when it comes to exercise, understanding the gist is only the beginning.
Take the tricep dip exercise for example. Most people think this is a tricep and pectoral exercise, and there is some truth to that. But the reality is that dips are a full body exercise, and training them this way makes a BIG difference in your results when you integrate your whole body into the movement.
You see, it’s one thing to get up on a set of parallel bars and bend your elbows enough times until you feel it in your triceps and pecs. This is what most people do when performing parallel-bar dips, and it’s not that hard to accomplish. It’s quite another to actually control your body through a full range of motion during this superb exercise – with optimal breathing, movement, and posture. What’s the difference, you say? I’m glad you asked! I’ll show you.
Continue reading How to do Parallel-Bar Tricep Dips With Optimal Technique