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Increasing Your Weighted Pullups

weighted pull-upAbout a year ago I made a goal to do a one-arm pullup. I’m still not there, although progress is steady. It’s just a lot of very, very small steps. I have recently added some resistance band work to my pullup regimen, which allows me to pull with one arm. I loop a Jumpstretch band over the bar, tie it off, and put my foot in the loop.  This takes some of the load off of me and lets me practice pulling the one arm pattern.

But before that came the weighted pullups. I made a goal that I wasn’t going to start messing around with one-arm pulling until I could do a pullup with 100 pounds strapped to my body. I’m still not quite there but in fairness I picked that number out of the air and have no idea why. I probably read it somewhere.

How I increased my weighted pullup

I do pullups much more infrequently than people might suspect. I find that if I’m not constantly butting up against my limits, I’m making better progress. This is what is taught in the Grip and Rip 2.1 DVD which I started following a year ago. Essentially, it means I only perform a movement when it tests well–meaning that it increases my range of motion instantly, making me more mobile during the movement.

The flipside of this is that a movement that decreases my range of motion is going to produce more tension in me, rendering me less mobile. That’s why I don’t have scheduled pullup days a la so many of the structured programs. There are days when pullups make me feel like crap, whether the schedule says it’s time to pull or not.

But on the days when it would test well, I would also test the load I was going to use–the weight added to my body. Sometimes this was heavier weight and resulted in an intensity PR. Sometimes a lighter weight would test best and I’d wind up pulling with only a 20 lb weight vest on me, or a 12 kilo kettlebell hanging on my foot.

On those days, I would always set a PR in that lift in one of these areas:

  • Intensity
  • Density
  • Volume
  • Quality of movement (I don’t define this one with a number, but I know it when I feel it)

Doing it this way, progress has been constant in all of my goal lifts, including the weighted pullups. If it takes longer than it might otherwise, I’m fine with that. I feel good, I never have pain, I never strain in the gym, and I continue to get stronger and more muscular. My quality of life improves.

Everything else is just a nice side effect to that. I want my quality of live to improve every time I train. That just doesn’t happen when I hold myself to a program, so I’m not doing it anymore.

This has resulted in me being able to do a pullup with a 44 kilogram kettlebell strapped to me (I use the Ironmind Hip Squat belt). And I know that 100 pounds is right around the corner. As Adam Glass has said, “Progress is not linear, but it is certain.”

Test.

Act.

Test again.

Act again, adapting if necessary.

Enjoy.

Josh

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