Old Forum One Arm Pull ups

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alex88

Level 3 Valued Member
Hey Comrades!

While my goal for this year is the one arm push up, next year i want to achieve a one arm pull up. I read the tutorial on beastskills, the book by al kavadlo and cc but for now i'm not really sure how to progress in my situation:

I used pavels ladders to work up to 4x 2,3,4 and am now capable of 15 clean pull ups in a row. Furthermore am i able to do  a pull up with a 16 kg kettlebell( assuming i can do 4-6 with it)

How would you progress through the rest of this year if the one arm pull up wasn't your goal for this year but your next goal after this year? (Because of my limited time to train it must be compatible to do in two sessions a week= i'm using the plan for strengh and condtioning pavel relased: http://www.strongfirst.com/a-total-package-weekly-template/)

thanks in advance

alex
 

AndyMcL

Level 6 Valued Member
I'd work in twice a week weighted pull up ladders, once you get to 4x1,2,3 increase the weight and drop the ladders down. At this point no need to worry about negatives and assisted one-arms, you just need to get your strength up.
 

rhgo5

Level 2 Valued Member
I would start practicing assisted one arm pull-ups. Keep reps /sets low and go slow.
 

luciusluke

Level 1 Valued Member
Many ways. Guys above gave you great advices. I would go to some respectful load, and practice one-hand dead hang, focusing on generate the tension - corkscrew, crushing the bar, hollow position.
 

Mike E

Level 5 Valued Member
If you have access to a rope climb, particularly a rope w/ smaller diameter than the normal climbing rope, come down the rope slowly, lowering yourself by one hand.  After a while practice stopping the downward motion at different points before continuing downward.  Sooner or later you'll be able to reverse the movement at any point.  Then you'll have your one arm pull-up.
 

Journeyman

Level 6 Valued Member
If your goal is for next year, this year you should:

1. get your strict/tactical pullups to at least 20 consecutive reps. 15 is not enough, imo.

2. Get your strict weighted chinup up to at least +2/3 bodyweight. Preferably +75%.

Also, do not do negatives. Lockoffs and partials are better... negatives (in my opinion) expose your elbows to torque that they are not ready for. Most people who use negatives to get their OAC run into tendinitis along the way.

And, two sessions a week is ideal, imo, some might be able to do 3 but it would be pretty taxing for your shoulders and elbows. If you have the energy/recovery ability, make your 3rd weekly session a volume bodyweight pulling one.

How I got mine: http://affectinggravity.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-first-one-arm-chin.html

 
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
A slight detour - but I enjoyed your affectinggravity link aris.  I agree with your recommendations.  Do you mind me asking - what your rep max for a weighted chin be now?  I have found that I peaked and then moved on to other things (still lat. intensive however), and now the rep max is a long way from where it was.  Thanks.

 
 

Mike E

Level 5 Valued Member
"..do not do negatives."  Really?  Are you sure that statement is not in the same category as "never do squats"...?  As with anything eccentric movements shouldn't be overdone, you should be aware of the unique stresses, but they have their place.  Worked for me.  I never got tendonitis as a young man and I owned one arm pull-ups, five with my left arm, three with my right.  I climbed a twenty foot rope regularly, hands only, with fifty pounds added and came down under control with the ability to stop at any point.  Very functional, and eccentric, muscle movement.
 

rhgo5

Level 2 Valued Member
I think this guy is plenty strong.15 pullups is plenty-- I think more reps  invites overuse injury,I know guys that can do 20-25 pull-ups but cant do a one arm  because they never practiced it.This is a very specialized/specific move that you need to work on to get down.I agree with the rope comments.If you dont have a rope,use a playground pole and climb it without legs--these are about the most underrated exercises out there--grip/arm strength all in one.
 

Journeyman

Level 6 Valued Member
Matt--thanks! I haven't tried in a while, but ~110 close grip chin at ~140 is probably where I'm at. I don't have a belt to attach weight to right now. I may try holding a dumbbell between my knees, but 100s are the biggest my gym has.

Mike--it's a general guideline of mine, I've helped two different people get to their first OAC, both were struggling with negatives and alternate comedowns, after ditching those and doing more lockoffs they had reduced elbow pain... and got the OAC. So it's definitely not set in stone for me, as you said they have their place, but I don't believe it is best for most people. I think that rope climbing is awesome, that's how John Gill got so strong at pulling, but the 'eccentric' there is different than a slow one-arm comedown on a bar, especially if someone doesn't have a lot of unilateral strength (that would have been built by rope climbing) to begin with.

SF, 15 pullups is not nearly enough for most people.... It is a matter of base strength/endurance. Pullups (and other bodyweight exercises) also have an unusual degree of carryover from bodyweight to bodyweight with extra weight, I think. And there are people who have gotten an OAC solely from two-armed pullups, John Allstadt was one of them.
 

alex88

Level 3 Valued Member
Thank you all for your input guys!

I don't have access to a rope but maybe this will change when i move out of my parents house.

So you think i definitfly need at least 20, better 25 reps in a row aris?
 

Journeyman

Level 6 Valued Member
Alex--yes. I mean, weighted chins/pulls are the most important, but they're easier to pile on and progress once you've got 20 strict pulls under your belt. Same goes for the OAC--you can do it without chinning ~+70% bodyweight, but it's so much easier if you have that base behind you....

SF, I've actually heard of plenty of people getting at least a sloppy OAC once they hit a certain number of chins/pulls. Everyone's different. And Allstadt was strong but with only 1 full OAC/arm at a bodyweight of 150ish (at the time), I wouldn't be so quick to throw out the word 'mutant'.... I'd save that for truly world class strength athletes or those with the potential to be such, personally.

I think it's a matter of how the reps are done. Most people, myself included, tend to lose tension when they do high reps with bodyweight only, pulling hard off the bottom and coasting their way to chin-over-bar (or throat to bar, whatever). However, if the reps are done powerfully and strict, with no leaks in tension anywhere, and the trainee keeps pulling hard and contracting all the way to the top... well! Once you can do 30 with really strict form like that, a (sloppy) OAC shouldn't be that hard to do.

The least # of chins I've known anyone to do before 'getting' their first OAC was 18 (!!). And that individual, I would call a 'mutant'. I believe that he said only two weeks of specific training (lockoffs) got him a full, strict one arm chin, and like I said, he couldn't even do 20 pullups yet. Last I heard he was doing ~5 full OACs with one finger on each arm. But he was indeed an 'out there' case.
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
Nice aris, 110 at 140 is strong.

One thing I have noticed - I switched gyms and had a different setup for hanging the weight, think now it is a bit lower.  And I could never match my previous best.  Maybe center of gravity tricks?  Which makes me wonder too - if there is more to being strong with chins/pullups (OAC or normal weighted) than just raw strength?  I didn't have the best posture when my weighted chins were their strongest.  An improvement there (with my posture) also coincided with a drop in my pullup 1rpm.  I trained with a strongman who was just strong! but couldn't do 2 chins (then - he trained them for a while and upped that).   So raw strength is not enough.  On the other hand, he had a friend who was an Australia gold medallist swimmer, and she would do some weighted chins for strength at about 66%bodyweight (specific strength, not overall strength).

You seem quite strong in general aris, so may not count for my theory, but your 'mutant' friend is interesting.  Wonder if he is strong in general (deads, press?) or just has some freakish chins strength.

For OAC - I know it is perhaps almost blasphemy to consider, but what do people think about using your free arm for stability?  I never trained OAC, yet just for kicks tried it once or twice.  Always found myself twisting more than 90degress while hanging one-handed, so kept myself straight by holding my hanging arm's wrist with my free hand.  The chin was surprisingly easy, probably due to the cheat?
 

Journeyman

Level 6 Valued Member
Matt--thanks, though personally I think that in addition to a strict OAC, a +bodyweight chin (or, preferably, pullup) is the 'gateway' number. And of course, some have gone far beyond that....

Center of gravity/weight placement definitely does matter. For example, it might be harder to hold a proper hollow position with a dumbbell between your legs; and I find that a vest/weight over shoulders setup restricts my scapula movement enough to decrease my best numbers. My best weighted chin was 1 rep with my younger brother (~120lb at the time) and he hung around my midsection--so the weight was in front, rather than below me, and did not restrict my arm/shoulder movement.

Obviously, strength is specific, and bodyweight strength moves will be harder for a larger person. Most strongmen probably prioritize heavy bent rows, curls and cheat curls, etc. to heavy chins and pullups; though many are quite simply strong enough to do chins (Derek poundstone comes to mind) while others do like weighted chins (I believe mariusz pudzianowski could do pullups for reps with +80kg or so). A swimmer, who probably is not carrying a lot of excess weight, has a good power to weight ratio, and does a lot of pulling/lat work in his general training is definitely going to be stronger at chins than most strongman competitors, who despite their lifting power might be carrying a bit of extra bodyfat and simply aren't as used to moving themselves around. Though again, the strongman probably has enough overall base body power that with a bit of practice, he could become quite a powerful chinner.

I've known people who were excellent at pullups but not at much else. Again, strength is specific, and upper body pulling strength has little correlation to, say, squatting. A rock climber might be incredible at chins and levers, but barely be able to full squat his own bodyweight if he has not done general strength work. Same goes for armwrestlers, etc.

Where this gets complicated is bodyweight... a really heavy guy who does bodyweight strength work is probably going to have some solid lifts too even without training; and a lighter fellow who lifts heavy might be very strong at bodyweight exercises with relatively little work on them. An example--I'm on the strongfirst deadlift team; during my prep for our meet this year I did no pullups. After not doing strict pullups for more than 2 months (nothing other than deadlifts, actually) I came back and did 20 strict pullups, 80% of my all time best, despite being seriously detrained at them. The absolute strength carried over due to my light weight.

As for my friend (really just someone I was in contact with via a forum), he was just a freak in general. As he said, his body responded unusually quickly to any training, the more strength-focused, the better. At a bodyweight of only 148lb, he deadlifted 340 the first time he tried the lift. In addition to banging out one arm, one finger chins for reps, he could do straddle planche pushups and a momentary maltese hold on the floor. Lifting was less impressive (other than the DL) but he could bench press 225, despite orangutan arms, and power clean and jerk 210 with minimal training. I wonder what he's up to... he had the most natural, raw athletic potential of anyone I've ever known.

As for assisted OAC: hanging on to your wrist (a one hand, rather than a one arm, chin) basically just challenges your grip. You are able to pull with both arms, and only have to hang with one. This is a valid progression, though--decreasing the leverage over time by moving your hand from your wrist to just below your elbow, then just above, then high on your bicep, then onto your shoulder--when you can do 2-3 strict chins with your 'free' hand on the shoulder of your working arm, an OAC should be well within reach.

The 'twist' is just part and parcel of one arm chin work and is a skill to be practiced and grooved like anything else. I set up at an angle, which greatly reduces twisting.

/Ramble, I hope that wasn't too hard to follow....
 

Pavel

Founder and Chairman
Certified Instructor
Alex, drop bodyweight reps and work your weighted pullups, esp. with a parallel grip.  when you are up to half your bodyweight, keep going to two thirds but start adding some single arm drills.
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
Hi aris,

 

Thanks for your "ramble" - I enjoyed it.  I might give those OAC's a crack in the future.

I've never tried weighted chins with a vest but think it would be annoying.  I've always used a martial arts belt doubled up and then around my waist with the weights (barbell plates) hanging off near my ankles.  I always did my pullups after heavy deads too, not sure if that is of any use to someone trying to up theirs.  Well I trained them like that, but think from memory my best pullup was on a lighter dead day.  And not in the same week as the peak of my cycle, prob. the week after.

I think too, memory a bit sketchy, but the weight was in front of me too (like your brother hanging off you - dead weight too is trickier so probably more than 110?) - now with a slightly longer belt the weight hangs more behind me and my repmax has dropped off.

Anyway - thanks for the longer post.  I enjoy talking all things strength.  Cheers.
 

alex88

Level 3 Valued Member
Thank you all for your inside on the matter. I too thought that it would be best to add weight to my pull ups. I'll put my 16 kg kettlebell to use. Today i tried it and encounted a small problem. how do you attach weight on to you if you don't have a belt? I used a backpack but i'm looking for other options. Furthermore, is it important where i put the weight?
 

AndyMcL

Level 6 Valued Member
Alex, a belt is the best method, there are numerous ways that you can make one for only a couple dollars.  Google/youtube "homemade dip belt" and you'll get plenty of results. Alternatively, if you have enough room you can hook the kettlebell over your foot. This has the added benefit of helping to ensure full body tension.
 
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