Pull-up Progression (Part 2: SHWt Edition)

TAGS: progressions, 5/3/1, selkow, pull-up, Jim Wendler, strength training, training

This is part two of a two-part series.

You’ve probably read the first part of “Pull-ups” according to “H” and say to yourself, “Sure, that’s fine, but I can’t even do a single rep.” That’s ok. In this part, we’ll address your  need(s) in being able to perform that repetition.

You have agreed that pull-ups are a cool way to build your bench and a perfect compliment of pulling motion to the pushing you do in the Wendler 5-3-1 program. It works well because your gym doesn’t have a lat pull-down or because “Jim just plain says so…”  Whatever your reasoning, you go into the gym and seek out the horizontal bar (oh yea, it’s over there all by itself with no one using it). You grab a hold of it and give it an all out, balls to the wall effort. There you swing without so much as an elbow bend, reminiscing the days of grade school, middle school, and high school when you couldn’t do a pull-up either.

Let me give you a heads up. Somewhere, someone said to you, “Because you are a big guy, that benching and squatting is all you need to do. The bigger and fatter you are, the more weight you can push.” Sure, that’s true, but note the word…push!

With the need to push more, we’re going to need that pull component. Here’s the kicker—as a big person or a person with a challenge in the strength to body weight ratio, we must regress the exercise until we can follow the principals that were outlined in the first article.

The idea that if you could just reduce the amount of weight that you are pulling all will be good is a novel approach. Now, you could go on a diet and lose that weight yourself, but then there would be no way in hell you’d ever get into “Rhodestown.” So that option isn’t even considered.

The makers of “the Gravitron” have made a lot of money with their pull-up assisted equipment in adjusting the weight to strength ratio. The poor man’s version of the weight assisted machine can and has been done with the varying tensions of a “jump stretch” band. Although effective, I shy away from both of them because they tend to become a “crutch” of sorts in my experience. That isn’t to say that I won’t incorporate their use when all else fails, but I prefer to take the longer and harder approach. Also, let me go on record to tell you that if you use the assistance as a first choice, I will also bet that you squat when you pee, zip your pants up from the side and not the front, and well you know, probably pop the collar on your pink Izod or Polo shirt. What we need to do is “build” your pull-up, just like we would build your bench, squat, or deadlift.

There are three different types of muscle contractions—the concentric or acceleration (shortening) of a muscle, the static or isometric (exertion without movement), and of course the eccentric or deceleration (lengthen) of the muscle.

The eccentric is the strongest of the three, followed by the static and lastly the concentric contraction. Unfortunately, as you dangle beneath the bar in the attempt to pull yourself up, you will have to use the weakest of the three contractions in order to do so. We can’t do that! However, we could utilize the strongest of contractions—the negative or deceleration of the muscle group. That’s right—the eccentric.

We’re going to start with exactly three sets of two deceleration pull-ups for a total of six in the very first training session. Climb, get help from a training partner, or jump up to a static hold with your forehead to the bar for a count of two. Then, slowly lower the body until your arms are locked out at the fully extended position. Then, put your feet down and repeat the process. Why are you putting your forehead to the bar? Although this is a lower starting point, if you have a momentary failure, you won’t rip your entire head off or at the minimum lose your medial incisor teeth on the bar and look like a total “dufus” in the process.

Because of the make up of a muscle fiber (technical and not really necessary to go into), the “cross-fibers” take a beating when decelerating a muscle. This will cause extreme muscle soreness. Because you know it’s coming, we don’t want it to be there too often or too long. Back in my primal youth, I’d put a notch on my weight belt for causing this soreness to either myself or the people I was training with, but now I know that we want to avoid this or at least recover from it as soon as possible so we can get after the business of getting strong. (Note to self—you can train harder when you’re not sore and fully recovered.) Therefore, we’re going to take between 48 and 72 hours rest between pull-up training sessions.

We want to progress the negative pull-up by one set every third session until we’re doing ten sets of two repetitions. That will be a total of twenty deceleration pull-ups. Along the way to the ten-set training session, we’ll attempt to squeeze out the first pull-up from the bottom to the chin rising above the bar every fourth session.

If the first pull-up doesn’t show up and you’re doing ten sets of two reps, we will just go back to adding reps to the ten sets. So instead of 10 X 2, we’ll go to 10 X 3, 10 X 4, and so on until we get that one repetition. It will show up. Be patient and persistent. It will show up.

Elite Fitness Systems strives to be a recognized leader in the strength training industry by providing the highest quality strength training products and services while providing the highest level of customer service in the industry. For the best training equipment, information, and accessories, visit us at www.EliteFTS.com.

Loading Comments... Loading Comments...