QUESTION: How slowly can you do just one pullup or chinup? That’s right. Today, I’m not concerned with how many pullups you can do, but how long you can endure a single, measly repetition. My challenge to you is to perform one pullup or chinup as slowly as you possibly can and post your results in the comments below.
I think it’s a good idea to have the ability to stop at any point during most strength training exercises (excluding some ballistic exercises: e.g. the clean and jerk). Having isometric strength throughout the full range of motion will ensure that you’re not training something that your body is not ready for yet. If you can’t stop and hold a pose during a particular range of motion, then chances are, you’re having to force yourself past that point when you’re doing sets of multiple repetitions, which isn’t an efficient, nor effective, approach to training. We should train to be strong throughout the entire range of motion of each exercise we perform.
Now, I’ve already posted several pullup training tutorials and workout programs over the years (see links at the bottom), and many of you have written to me expressing how proud you are of yourselves since you’re now able to dominate this popular, yet challenging, exercise. But today, I want to find out how long you can survive just one maximum-duration pullup.
Here is a video of my first attempt from earlier this morning.
My First Attempt at the 1 Minute Pullup Challenge
Note: I’d caution against trying this if you haven’t included some form of pulling exercise in your routine in the last few months. If that’s the case, spend at least a couple of weeks practicing your pullup technique to groove the movement pattern and secure some initial conditioning adaptations BEFORE attempting this test.
Tips For Maximizing Your Performance
Obviously, adhering to proper technique will get you the most mileage out of this test, but here are a few other things that will help, too.
1) Going up is harder than going down. Take your time on the ascent (concentric portion) of the repetition and the descent will take care of itself. If you time the ascent right, and manage to make it to the top, then when all else fails, just try to hold on for dear life to extend your time.
2) Unless you’ve never trained in this way before, use a neutral grip (parallel bar grip at approximately shoulder width apart) to maximize muscle recruitment. If that’s not available, then simply choose the style that you’re most familiar with.
3) Keep a steady exhale going throughout the duration of the set, and when necessary, allow a little bit of air to get sucked back into your lungs by relaxing your throat (without actively inhaling).
Level 1 (beginner) – 30 seconds total (approximately 15 seconds up, 15 seconds down) – You’re just getting your feet wet, but you’ve ensured a good base to build off from in the future.
Level 2 (intermediate) – 1 minute total – You’ve got a solid foundation of conditioning in this exercise now – well done.
Level 3 (advanced) – 2 minutes total – Now, you’re just showing off. Quit making the rest of us look bad!
Level 4 (mastery) 3 minutes total – This is simply for bragging rights. You have some character flaws that happen to come with fitness benefits. Carry on.
If you try it out, please post your results below!
Update: Want to do more pull-ups? Check out my free 5-day Pull-up Training Crash Course. I’ll hook you up with a free program, some special reports and tutorials, and my very best tips on mastering the pull-up and chin-up exercises. If you want to improve your pull-up strength and performance as soon as this week, then Click Here to learn more about the free course.
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CST Coach, CST-KS
Health-First Fitness Coach
P.P.S. Hat tip for this challenge goes to bodybuilding expert, Marc David, who is a contributor at the Burn The Fat Inner Circle.