The Pull-up Revolution
[caption id="attachment_3572" align="aligncenter" width="775"] This is probably his warm-up set[/caption] We’ve been doing pull-ups for about a month now, so you’ve probably mastered them to the point where they’re getting boring. “Alright Dire Lord Richstad,” you say, because you finally learned proper etiquette, “you got me doing a couple pull-ups and that’s great, but I want my back to look like a pointed-down star destroyer when I flex. How am I going to take this to the next level?” Getting your first pull-up is a huge accomplishment and, as I said earlier, one of the most difficult single exercises achievements in working out. Once you get the first one you know you can do a pull-up, and that’s a huge mental step. You’ll probably be able to add a few more pull-ups with less work than it took you to get the first one, but it might not be too long before you plateau. One of the many difficulties with pull-ups is that your body feels so damned heavy, and sometimes you have to do a little mental/neurological trickery to get over it. If you can make your brain think your body is lighter, then even without getting stronger or lighter yourself you’ll immediately be able to get more reps. We started with the Pull-up Renaissance, and crushed the Enlightenment, so by my incredibly detailed and comprehensive view of world history, it’s time for the Industrial Revolution. And what do you think of when you think of the Industrial Revolution? No, not child laborers working 12 hours a day 7 days a week in a factory (although they probably would have been great at pull-ups); you think of metal. And it’s time to add some metal to your pull-ups in the form of extra weight. It might seem premature to add weight when you can barely do a few pull-ups, but adding 10lbs and squeezing out even one rep will help you feel a lot lighter when it’s just you on the bar. When I was really working on my pull-ups years ago, my workout partners and I did a routine of four of five sets of pull-ups. We did three warm-up sets at body weight, then one set heavily loaded with a weight vest. We saved our big blow-out set for the last one, and because we felt suddenly light after taking off the weight, that last set was easily our best one. Even though we were a little fatigued from the earlier reps we felt so light that the last set of pull-ups was easy by comparison. There are a few ways to add weight. The easiest is probably a weight vest, but of course you have to have one of those. You can also hold a dumbbell between your knees or feet, but good luck jumping up to the bar! You can even have a partner just pull-down lightly on your waist to increase the resistance. Even if you aren’t great at pull-ups, doing harder variations is a great way to make progress. And if you aren’t ready to do weighted pull-ups yet, you can still do weighted hangs to get some of that feeling. Hold on to the bar for 30 seconds with 30 extra pounds, and the next time you try a pull-up with feel much different. That should set you up for a while with your pull-ups. Once weighted pull-ups become easy, it will be time to move on to one-arm pull-ups! Don’t get hasty though, it will take at least another month.