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Old Forum Pullups: Workload and Recovery

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Ben Dau

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Hello, I was wondering if I could get some input on a couple of things I haven't been able to figure out through my own research and experience.

My work capacity for pullups is dramatically different from day to day. Last week I was able to do 3 sets of 8 reps on Monday, but the next day 3 sets of 3 was a struggle. I took a day off and then Thursday was 2 sets of 5.  I am 6', 218lbs and have been training regularly for about 2 yrs.

The questions I have are: why is my pullup ability so different day to day? Am I not fully recovered? Is my CNS overworked? Does any of that even matter and should I keep imprinting the movement? My goal is to get to 15-20 pullups in a single set.

Thank you in advance for all of your help.
It does sound like you're not fully recovered or maybe there's a weak link that isn't recovered versus a prime mover that's probably fine. Not sure how hard those 8 reps are at the end, but all I can say is GTG. It's the only thing that worked for me with pullups. Once I stopped trying to "workout" with pullps, my reps started to climb. Then I started doing more pushaways from the dinner table and I got a few more reps ;)

Do you go to failure? I did that before and could prolly fit in 2 good pullup workouts a week.

If I keep a few reps in the bank I can do them twice daily.
The sets of 8 are my top end, yes. The last set of 8  was ugly.

If GTG isn't an option, my office isn't equipped with usable doorframes, etc, would ladders during my workout be the next best option? I have 3 days a week I can workout.

Thanks again.
Ben - I saw your goals on the other thread.  My pull-ups went from 11 (and BW+35lbsx3) when I did pull-ups frequently to 15 (and BW+70lbsx1) by doing front lever training only and very few pull-ups.  In my training I do no pull-ups but if I take my kids to the park I'll do a few random sets on the playground.

Part of it has to do with weight loss from this kind of training (I'm 6'3" and went from 220ish to 205ish) the other has to do with smarter abs and lats.

If anyone is interested email me .  I'll email you a paper I wrote on this training.

-you have three days per week to train

-you can do 3x8 pullups on a good day

-you want to do 15-20 consecutive pullups


I would advise a sort of density training. Take 20 minutes, 3 days a week (maybe only 2 days at first to ensure that you don't outrace your recovery) and do as many perfect pullups as possible in that time period. Don't max out, but do many, many sets leaving a rep in the bank every time. The goal is to increase the total reps done in 20 minutes by any set/rep combination. You'll be getting a lot of practice this way, as well as developing some very useful endurance and work capacity, and maybe some extra muscle into the bargain if you eat for it. This is one of the methods that has worked pretty well for me.

Good luck!
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