Volume threshold - pull ups and elbows

Carl

Level 5 Valued Member
Hi all,

My elbows start to complain if my pull-ups or chin ups exceed a certain volume threshold (generally around 30 or so in a session).

I have tried various tactics, slow and steady, breaking down the reps in varied ways (ladders, gtg etc) rotations of grips etc but elbows just do not seem to like the volume, beyond a certain point.

I wondered if anyone else has found this and any workarounds you can suggest?

My own approach includes a modified Fighter Pull Up approach (3-4 sets instead of 5, less days per week) and setting lower limit targets in sessions (i.e. 25-30 reps in as few sets as possible across a practice, clusters, static holds etc).

I’m still keen to build my 1 set numbers (which are modest by SF standards but in double digits) up a bit further, with controlled reps but whilst staying healthy.

Thanks.
 

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

@Carl
Did you try not to do straight arm position (so when you are hanging, elbows are slightly flexed) ?

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

Kyle Kowalczuk

Level 4 Valued Member
My max set is 32 in the tsc. I have done this 2 ways and also have elbow pain at times.

1. When not focusing on pull up volume, I will do weighted pull ups. This allows me to crank up the intensity to desired levels and keep the volume below when my elbow starts to complain. So fo you that would probably be around 20 total. I will only do high volume pull ups as the tsc approaches. Maybe between 80-120/day. But at that point the elbow pain has a purpose.

2. High volume kb snatches. It has been proven and I have experienced pull up improvement after phases of high volume snatches. Without getting too far down the rabbit hole, this may be due to the fact that a snatch is a pulling movement that requires similar muscles as the tactical pull up just with pulsing type contractions.
 

offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
Hi all,

My elbows start to complain if my pull-ups or chin ups exceed a certain volume threshold (generally around 30 or so in a session).

I have tried various tactics, slow and steady, breaking down the reps in varied ways (ladders, gtg etc) rotations of grips etc but elbows just do not seem to like the volume, beyond a certain point.

I wondered if anyone else has found this and any workarounds you can suggest?

My own approach includes a modified Fighter Pull Up approach (3-4 sets instead of 5, less days per week) and setting lower limit targets in sessions (i.e. 25-30 reps in as few sets as possible across a practice, clusters, static holds etc).

I’m still keen to build my 1 set numbers (which are modest by SF standards but in double digits) up a bit further, with controlled reps but whilst staying healthy.

Thanks.
  • Wrist Pronators
  • Rings
  • Low Rep Weighted
 

Carl

Level 5 Valued Member
Thanks all for the recommendations.

I do rotate in neutral grips often and rings at times. This eases the problem but the elbows still seem to bark as volume creeps up (either too many days a week or reps per day).

I’ve also tried various warming/ramping up options. Helps priming but still hit a threshold.

Admittedly, I haven’t played much with weighted (even light weights) so can give this some attention.

I want to be at this stuff for a lifetime (I’m mid 40s) so longevity is front and center in my mind. That said, pull ups/chins are always part of my programming (and a favourite move).



Try pull ups with a neutral grip and/or using a limited ROM, stopping when your eyes are level with the bar
 

offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
I want to be at this stuff for a lifetime (I’m mid 40s) so longevity is front and center in my mind. That said, pull ups/chins are always part of my programming (and a favourite move).
I have a few years on you... and pull-ups have always been a large part of my programming as well, and will continue to be so. That being said... I have never seen (or had) the need to do high volume or high rep pull-ups. There is no real-world situation I could ever find myself in where I would need that requiment. (And I'm a rock climber and alpinist in my spare time...)
 

Karen Smith

Level 6 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
Iron Maiden
Not that this is what you want to hear.. but if your elbows are flaring up the best option is a long REST maybe even weeks.
I had this issue a few years back and was stubborn and it only got worse and then took me completely out of Pullups for over a year.

I highly Recommend taking some time off.
 

fractal

Level 6 Valued Member
I struggled with elbow pain for a long time and stayed away from pullups for about a year. I built up my pullups slowly with a couple of sets per week, progressing to two moderate to hard sets most mornings. It has been several months and I’ve kept to 2 sets ~4x weekly.

I have been continually making progress without elbow pain (while A+A snatching a few times per week). Pullups seem to be something that will sideline you if rushed and respond well to chipping away. Once every 1-3 weeks, I’ll do a session with more volume/added weight, if my elbows start talking to me, I’ll just back off.

Another thing that really helped me was going a bit wider than shoulder width and getting closer to the bar on the ascent (not out in front like a mantis), with a really solid neck touch.

I think the exact optimal hand spacing and grip is individual to your anatomy/ratios. Doing this massively improved an old shoulder issue at the same time, which was a great WTH effect.

Doorway pullup bars feel cramped to me and have always encouraged pulling up “out infront”. I’d never use one again.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I’ve had good luck and good results with training pull-ups heavier and low volume twice a week, and once week doing a single near-max set with either less weight or no weight. Weighted with between 12 and 24 kg, reps under 10, got me 19 reps @ bw + 10 kg. I would cycle the near-max day at least every 4-5 weeks and also any time it just felt like I was too fatigued to add another rep to last week’s number.

On near-max day, my routine was a short warmup set, a near-max set of pull-ups, and a back off set of chin-ups. I also divided the heavier work about equally between pull-ups and chin-ups.

-S-
 

s f

Level 6 Valued Member
Pullups caused me more shoulder problems(old injuries) and occasional elbow flare-ups than they were worth.
I use isometrics now--flexed arm hold at top and at 90*--try to build up to 90 seconds then add weight.You will find this a new challenge.
 

Carl

Level 5 Valued Member
Thanks @Karen Smith - appreciate the ‘in the trenches’ perspective.

I want to be pulling up as long as I can so need to listen to common sense over my ego.

Easily said, not always easily done!

Not that this is what you want to hear.. but if your elbows are flaring up the best option is a long REST maybe even weeks.
I had this issue a few years back and was stubborn and it only got worse and then took me completely out of Pullups for over a year.

I highly Recommend taking some time off.
 

Carl

Level 5 Valued Member
Thanks @Steve Freides - this sounds like an appealing way forward (as it keeps volume at moderate levels) and hopefully can help me progress without pain.



I’ve had good luck and good results with training pull-ups heavier and low volume twice a week, and once week doing a single near-max set with either less weight or no weight. Weighted with between 12 and 24 kg, reps under 10, got me 19 reps @ bw + 10 kg. I would cycle the near-max day at least every 4-5 weeks and also any time it just felt like I was too fatigued to add another rep to last week’s number.

On near-max day, my routine was a short warmup set, a near-max set of pull-ups, and a back off set of chin-ups. I also divided the heavier work about equally between pull-ups and chin-ups.

-S-[/QUOTE
 

Carl

Level 5 Valued Member
I have been playing with statics as well (holds through positions) in one session a week. These don’t seem to bother me but do offer a fresh challenge and keep my form honest.

Pullups caused me more shoulder problems(old injuries) and occasional elbow flare-ups than they were worth.
I use isometrics now--flexed arm hold at top and at 90*--try to build up to 90 seconds then add weight.You will find this a new challenge.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@Carl, in addition to static work - I'd just do a little, not a lot - consider also going through a pullup without stopping but slowly. It's another thing, in small doses, that can be valuable.

And yes, 5-10 reps at a time with a heavier weight can translate to 15-20 reps at bw or a lower weight pretty easily.

-S-
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@s f, more than brief holds in the top position have bothered my elbows - you did them and they felt OK for you?

-S-
 
Top Bottom