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Bodyweight Towel/Gi pull ups plateau

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I am trying to increase the number of pull ups I can do while holding onto a gi/towel. I used the grease the groove (GTG) method for about 2 months and increased the number of these pull ups I could do from 8 to 14. However, I've been stagnant for a month with no improvement. I've tried taking a few days off as well but that didn't help. Now I've changed my training regimen to max out on pull ups every day for a single set. This hasn't been working either.

Do you guys have any suggestions on how I can break through this plateau? Thanks!
Take a week off from pullups.

Try something you haven't tried recently, e.g., try a light-medium-heavy weekly scheme. For pullups, I like a near-max day once a week as the heavy day - a short set to warmup then the near-max set and then you're done. For the other two days, consider adding a some weight and dropping the reps.


@Strength Enthusiast
Welcome !

+1 with @Steve Freides

When a program "does not work anymore", it can be a signal to change for a while. Most of the time, using some régressions or start another cycle permit to reap benefits.
As he mentioned, light / medium weekly scheme. You can also play with the speed (slow motion, doing pauses during the rep)

Kind regards,

@Strength Enthusiast
Your question is a common one here. @Steve Freides and @pet' have given you good advice thus far. Often times a break from the routine and mixing things up is all that's needed.

Would it also be possible to give us a bit of a background. Age, years training, injuries/medical issues, and training goals. You mentioned a gi, so I assume you are perhaps training for some m/a application?

But back to the pull-ups. I am a big fan of weighted work. Using either the 3RM fighter pull-ups programme, or the 1RM maximum strength programme, that I have outlined elsewhere.

Since you are doing towel grip pull-ups there may be some additional factors at play. Can you isolate what your failure mode is? Is it your pulling muscles, or is it your grip? Or just can't do anymore?
Thank you everyone for all of the helpful advice.

@offwidth Thank you for replying. I do train brazilian jiu jitsu 5 days per week but am currently injured after dislocating my kneecap. I'm 28 years old and want to be able to perform 5 sets of 20 reps of gi pull ups. I've been training bjj for 6 years consistently and did 5x5 for about 8 months before becoming injured.

I wonder if 100 pull ups is too many reps. I've tried to isolate the failure mode. I think its my arm strength as grips no longer slip. I am also using captains of crush grippers. Trying to close the #1 at the moment

You all have been very helpful. I'm stoked to start on these programs!
Hello @Steve Freides,

This is my goal because I figured it would help my "pulling" strength and endurance. In a gi jiu jitsu match, there is constant gripping and regripping. It does seem like a lot of pull ups though. I definitely don't want to get tendinitis. Do you have any ideas as to how I can work on my "pulling" strength?

@Strength Enthusiast
For pulling strength ... weighted pull-ups.

I don't grapple so I can't comment on the applicability of pull-ups related to ju jitsu

I would think that some of the usual stuff like swings and get-ups would be good for this sort of thing. And sandbag work. Just a thought.

There are some BJJ, MMA, and judo fighters on here that probably can provide better answers
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