How to choose a pull-up program
First, evaluate your level of preparation. To do this, jump on the horizontal bar and pull yourself up as many times as you can without swinging and jerking. Select the appropriate program based on the results.
If pulled up 0-4 times
A program for beginners, made up of lead-up exercises, is suitable for you. Simple movements will strengthen the muscles that work during classic pull-ups and help you master the correct technique.
If you pulled yourself up 5-11 times
Try the program pull-ups Pavel Tsatsoulina, founder of the StrongFirst physical training school and former US Special Forces trainer. Its peculiarity is to perform one type of pull-ups, gradually increasing the number of repetitions in the approach.
If you pulled yourself up 12-15 times
pay attention to program pull-ups by Charles Lewis Armstrong, an American military man who set a record of 1,435 pull-ups in five hours. It has no restrictions on the initial level of preparation, but it is better to start it when you can complete 12 reps per set.
This is because some training days include nine working sets that are performed at short intervals. To do at least 1-3 times in each approach, you need to be prepared enough, otherwise you simply won’t be able to finish the workout.
What to consider when performing a pull-up program
It is advisable to add exercises for other muscle groups: push-ups, squats, lunges, crease on the press. They will help you develop your body harmoniously and avoid large differences in muscle size and strength.
Don’t forget that post-workout recovery is of the utmost importance. Eat right, get enough sleep, and avoid stress as much as possible.
How to do a pull-up program for beginners
- Workouts per week: three.
- Duration: from four weeks.
- Necessary equipment: ordinary horizontal bar; low horizontal bar at waist level or below (it can be replaced with gymnastic rings, TRX loops or a mop on two chairs); a set of expander tapes with different resistance.
- Result: 5 pull-ups per set.
Do this program three times a week. Between workouts, take a rest day so that your muscles have time to recover.
Focus on the number of repetitions indicated for each week, but if you find it easy on the last set, do 2-3 more repetitions on the next training day.
If you are unable to follow the plan to the fullest, continue to do the program of the week in which progress stopped. Move on to the next one only when you have completed all the prescribed sets and reps.
- Involvement of the shoulders in the hang on the horizontal bar – 3 sets of 10 times.
- Australian pull-ups – 3 sets of 6-8 reps
- Negative (eccentric) pull-ups – 3 sets of 5 times with a lowering of 5-6 seconds.
- Band support pull-ups – 3 sets of 6-8 reps.
- Hanging Shoulder Engagement – 5 sets of 10 reps.
- Australian pull-ups – 3 sets of 10 reps
- Negative (eccentric) pull-ups – 3 sets of 6 times with lowering 6-8 seconds.
- Band support pull-ups – 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
- Classic pull-ups – 3 sets to the maximum.
- Australian pedestal pull-ups – 3 sets of 10 reps
- Negative pull-ups – 3 sets of 6 times with 10 seconds of lowering.
- Pull-ups with the support of the expander – 3 sets of 10-12 times.
- Classic pull-ups with a direct grip – 3 sets to the maximum.
- Australian pedestal pull-ups – 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
- Negative pull-ups – 3 sets of 8 reps with 10 seconds of lowering.
- Band support pull-ups – 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
End of the program
Take a 1-2 day break from your last workout and test again. If you can pull yourself up five times per set with good form, move on to the next program. If unsuccessful, repeat the fourth week until you can complete five pull-ups.
What exercises to do on the pull-up program for beginners
Involvement of the shoulders in the hanging on the horizontal bar
Hang on the horizontal bar, lower your shoulders, bring your shoulder blades together. Hold the position for 1-2 seconds, relax and repeat. Do not jump off until the end of the approach.
Select the height of the horizontal bar (rings, loops) so as to complete the specified number of repetitions. Keep your body straight, touch the horizontal bar with your chest.
Australian pull-ups with legs on a pedestal
The closer your body is to the parallel with the floor, the more difficult it is to do them. To take this position, you can lower the horizontal bar lower, and if this is not possible, put your feet on the pedestal.
Negative (eccentric) pull-ups
Jump to the top position and then slowly lower yourself for the specified time. Tighten the abs and buttocks so that the body does not sway too much.
Choose the resistance of the elastic in such a way as to perform a given number of times in a set. Try the thickest expander first. If you easily pulled up the right number of times, replace it with a thinner one.
Do as many times as you can to maintain the correct technique. If you have to twitch or stretch your neck, end the set.
Follow the technique: rise smoothly, without jerking and swinging, do not pull your chin forward. At the bottom, do not press your shoulders to your ears.
How to do the pull-up program by Pavel Tsatsoulina
- Workouts per week: six.
- Duration: from 30 days.
- Necessary equipment: horizontal bar.
- Result: 12-15 pull-ups per approach.
Practice five days in a row, then rest one day and move on to the next stage.
Start training with the number of repetitions that you can complete in a set. For example, if you pull up 5 times in a row, start on the 1st day of the program, if 6 times – from the 7th day of the program, and if 8 times – from the 19th.
Add one repetition per training day according to the indicated scheme. All previously added repetitions are saved, so your training volume is constantly growing.
If on any training day you cannot cope with the specified number of repetitions, rest for a day and try again. Do it until you succeed, and then move on through the program.
Do five sets of pull-ups. In the first pull up five times, and in each next one less than in the previous one: 5-4-3-2-1.
Add one rep to the fifth set: 5-4-3-2-2.
Add one rep to the fourth set: 5-4-3-3-2.
Add one rep to the third set: 5–4–four-3-2.
Add one rep to the second set: 5–5-4-3-2.
Take a break from training.
Add one rep to the first set: 6-5-4-3-2.
Table with a specific number of repetitions for each day →
End of the program
A day after you finish the program, test – pull up the maximum number of times. Most likely, you will be able to do 12-15 times per approach.
If you wish, you can continue to train according to this scheme, adding one pull-up per day, and improve your performance indefinitely. However, this approach has one drawback – monotony.
Firstly, the same workouts every day are boring. Secondly, the lack of a variety of muscle loads can stop progress, so that your performance will stop growing. And to overcome the plateau, you will need to switch to another program.
What exercises to do according to Pavel Tsatsulin’s pull-up program
The only exercise in this program is the classic pull-up with a direct grip.
Perform the movement in full amplitude, avoid jerking and swinging, do not stretch your neck in an attempt to reach the horizontal bar.
How to do the Lewis Armstrong pull-up program
- Workouts per week: five.
- Duration: 4-8 weeks.
- Necessary equipment: horizontal bar.
- Result: from 25 pull-ups per approach.
Every morning, do three sets of push-ups as many times as you can. This exercise will strengthen the muscles of the shoulders and core, as well as pump the triceps and pecs, which will ensure the balance of muscle groups.
Take your time – rest between sets as much as needed. Following Armstrong’s example, you can do push-ups between your morning chores: toileting, preparing breakfast, or watching the news on social networks.
Do five sets of classic overhand pull-ups for as many reps as you can. Stop when you can’t complete the next rep in a set with good form.
Rest 90 seconds between sets.
Perform approaches on the basis of the pyramid. Start your workout with one pull-up, then rest for 10 seconds. Then do two repetitions and rest for 20 seconds. Continue to increase the number of reps by one per set and add 10 seconds of rest.
The pyramid will end when you can’t do one more rep than the previous set. For example, after six repetitions, you will only do five or six instead of seven.
Then rest and do another set for the maximum number of repetitions.
On this day, you need to do three types of pull-ups:
- direct grip at shoulder width;
- narrow reverse grip;
- wide straight grip.
Each exercise is performed for three sets with a rest of 60 seconds between them.
You should choose your reps so that you complete all nine sets with the same number of pull-ups – this number will be your working set.
Start with three times. If you manage to complete a workout without failure, you have chosen the working approach correctly. Use it on the fourth day.
On this day, you need to do the maximum number of your working approaches. Stop when you can’t complete a set – do fewer reps than necessary. For example, if your work set consists of three pull-ups, end your workout when you’ve completed only two. Rest 60 seconds between sets.
You need to do at least nine approaches. If you’ve done more, increase your work set by one rep next week.
Repeat the training day that seemed to be the most difficult for you. It may change from week to week. You can also complement this day with weighted pull-ups or perform chest rows on a block simulator.
After the fifth day of training, there are two days of rest. At this time, you can continue to do push-ups in the morning, but do not pull yourself up – let the muscles rest and recover.
End of the program
Test after four weeks. If your working approach had three repetitions, you will be able to pull up 25-27 times. If not, repeat the program until you achieve the desired result.
What exercises to do on the Lewis Armstrong pull-up program
Stand in an emphasis lying, put your hands shoulder-width apart, place your wrists under your shoulders, tighten your abs.
Lower into a push-up until your chest touches the floor and push yourself back up. Make sure your elbows point back, not to the sides. Keep your core rigid and tighten your glutes so that your lower back does not collapse during the lift.
Pull-ups with a direct grip at shoulder width
This is a classic exercise in which the arms are shoulder-width apart and turned palms away from you.
Pull-ups with a narrow reverse grip
Place your hands on the horizontal bar with your palms facing you no wider than 10 cm from each other.
Wide grip pull-ups
Grasp the horizontal bar a little wider than your shoulders, turn your hands with your palms away from you.