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Coach's Blog

Pull Ups: How to Get Better

By Rob | In Coach's Blog | on October 1, 2012

This is a typical question that I encounter.  “What exercises can I do to get better at Pull Ups?” The really simple answer to this is to do pull ups. As I have watched over the last almost 4 years, the folks that get better at pull ups, do them regularly and tenaciously. If you watch, you will see them too. They are the ones on the pull up bar getting in a few reps before or after the WOD. Struggling, pulling, gritting their teeth, but they are doing them.

The sad fact of typical exercise programs there is a disproportionate amount of pushing over pulling. Ideally you would be able to push and pull the same weights for the same amount of reps. You would be in true harmony if you could. We do lots of pulling at CrossFit West Houston to try to combat that.

There are some great programs out there to improve pull ups. Here are a couple of good ones:

Greasing the Groove

Pavel Tsatsouline developed the “Greasing the Groove” concept in his book The Naked Warrior. In this concept you do pull ups every day. Once you have figured out your maximum number you can complete, then you will do half that number several times a day when you are fresh. Each week you will add one rep to your total. Every 4th week you will drop one rep drop back down a couple of reps to de-load, so that there is a stair step progression. I personally used this to get to 16 upll ups from 10.

Recon Ron

This was developed by a Force Recon Marine. Like Greasing the Groove, it is an everyday program. The sets are done in concentrated effort rather then spread throughout the day. There is a lot of volume. Here is an example of the Recon Ron chart

But I don’t have any pull ups

Not to worry, use resistance bands to help gently assist you. Don’t be afraid to jump up to a new band.

No bands no worries, try negatives. Jump yourself up to the bar and perform negatives. Slowly resist gravity, stop when you are no longer resisting.

Bottom line though, Practice….Practice…..Practice!

2 Comments to "Pull Ups: How to Get Better"

  • Jodie says:

    October 2, 2012 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    Damn. I thought there was going to be some magical fix. Guess I’d better get aquatinted with my grease. Blahhhh… I need little red sparkly shoes, “There nothing like pull-ups. There’s nothing like pull-ups.”

  • Patrick says:

    October 5, 2012 at 5:40 am - Reply

    I recommend getting one of those door-hanger pullup bars to have in the house. It makes it a lot easier to get those sets in throughout a day.

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