Anvil or Hammer

The Pull Up

Posted in Goals,Gym Strength by Mike on May 15, 2007

It’s a basic exercise, there is a bar, now haul yourself up to it… yet it eludes me. A lot of people have taken an interest in the topic, so this is my best shot at a round up.

From Scott Bird:
1. multiple shorts sets translate well to one long set (so 5 doubles will help your quest for 1×10)

2. chin-ups seem to help (and are a little easier, as the biceps come into play). alternating sets between chin-ups/pull-ups works well.

From Chris D:
Basically do a pyramid schema. So do 1, take a break, do 2, take a break, do 3 take a break, do 2, take a break, do 1 and repeat as many times as possible. The breaks should be as little as possible. You don’t want to get near your max on these since your more concerned with endurance.

If it were me I’d probably do at least 3 days of chins/pull-ups. 1 day done with a pyramid, 1 day with weight (lots of singles and doubles) and then 1 day of doing whatever the hell you think will help!


One thing I probably should point out to you all is that my pull ups are awful, not bad, awful. I can do one, two on a good day. Those are strict but that’s it. I have been playing witht he singles, I can do 3 -5 singles depending on the day. A couple years ago I made a run at pull ups, singles, doubles, triples, whatever. At one point I simple strove for 10, no matter how many sets it took. The longest set I ever achieved was 5.

So that’s what I’m working with. Not an excuse, just factors to consider as I try to improve.

Oh and I can’t do pull ups any old time for one simple reason. No bar. Now that seems like and excuse and maybe it is but I can’t mount big bar, I live in a rental. I’ve looked at the various cantelever and doorway bars, those typically stop at 200 lbs and that’s a sturdy one there.

8 Responses to 'The Pull Up'

Subscribe to comments with RSS

  1. Chris Rice said,

    Learn to do kipping pullups. Kip for all you’re worth and then use it several times a day – do a couple – come back later and do a couple more, and again and again. Always be somewhat fresh when you do them. Learning to kip is a good way to increase even when you’re wanting to learn to to them strict – you get all the negatives from the kipping reps – it worked for me when I was working them hard several years ago.

  2. Scott said,

    If you have access to a bar a few days a week, that’s a great start. You can achieve a lot in those three days.

    However, if you really want to do pull-ups at other times, there are plenty of things you can use. Doors (just open the door, put something heavy against it to stop it swinging, and grab the top of it – not the frame, but the door itself), ceiling rafters, sturdy tree branches, balconies, the second floor above a stairwell, the top of a brick wall… once you start looking, you’ll see potential ‘bars’ everywhere 🙂

  3. Mike said,


    I have wondered about the kip but I didn’t know if that was starting down a road like the powerclen versus the squat clean. I would imagine I can knock out a few more per day som kips in there.


    I don’t think I’ll do the door thing. I don’t feel like bringing it down, remeber I’m 250. The trees around here don’t really have thick low branches. Where I’m from, in the midwest, I would be all about tree pull ups, here, it’s not a choice. I have tried the soccer goals but tey just fall over. I did think of one wall down by some businesses here but really, I have looked and in this area we are short on bars….although I might have just thought of a second. I’ll look at it this afternoon….

  4. Scott Styles said,

    I’m not sure how tight your are on space, but you can buy a dip / chin stand for around $100. They take up about a 4’x4′ area. Here’s an example from Walmart:

    Most sporting good stores have them.

    The only time I was ever any good at chins was in high school, when I was probably around 150lbs and would climb trees all the time. Doing 15 was no big deal.

  5. Mike said,

    I looked at one of those when I first moved into this place. I got to thinking while looking at it that the height would be an issues. I think I could talk Laura into losing the footprint space if neccessary. I’ll have to go back and double check the height though. I always thought the taps bar was the best
    but he price is just stupid. I asked someone what it would cost to have one built and they quoted me $350 – $400. That seems a little out of this world but I guess making it with enough precision to get it come together and apart over the years takes some effort.

  6. Chris D. said,

    Sounds like it might be time to find your nearest elementary school and go training there. Short run (maybe!) down there and for some pull/chins.

  7. Mike said,

    I’m gonna search that next although I’m not sure they do that here. I remeber living in the midwest too, a playground with monkey bars and pull up bars at every school. Still a great idea, I’ll do some hunting.

  8. Mike said,

    A quick search didn’t find me any good schools but I did find a promising park nearby that will have to be checked out tonight or tomorrow.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: