Weighted Pull-up Routine

305pelusa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Hello,
I'm looking for get started with hitting weighted pull-ups hard. The best way to seamlessly incorporate them in my current routine would be 3 times a week. My current routine has a deload every fourth week, so a routine where I work hard for 3 weeks, and deload on the fourth would integrate best.

I read about a routine in BB which looks somewhat like this:

-Train 3 times a week. You do sets of 5,4,3,2,1 reps (15 reps total). You go up by 5-10 pounds between sets. Every training session, you add 5 pounds to each set. After 2 weeks (about 6 sessions), my top single should be equal to my max. So I should work up to a new max on the 3rd week. Deload on the fourth week. Fifth week is the exact same thing all over again, but a little heavier I suppose.

Does this seem like a sensible routine? I considered ladders, but because ladders deload weekly, it wouldn't work too well in my routine I think. Also, ladders seem to bias towards volume and KB programming, but my weight belt lets me get 5 lb increments, so I figured a more barbell-oriented routine would be best?

Any other ideas/thoughts? Thanks!
 

Tarzan

More than 500 posts
I just plotted it out on a spreadsheet and it seems like a reasonable approach.

So if you start on day one with 10 lbs for set one (5 reps) and add 5 lb increments, by day 3 you'll be doing a final 1 rep set of 40 lbs. Then by week three you'd start set 1 with 20 lbs(5 reps) and you'd be doing a final set of 1 rep with 50 lbs.

So every week you're adding 5lbs to your 1 rep final set from the previous week.

Calculating you're starting weight for day one will be the key to hitting your goal on week 3. My spreadsheet shows (using 5 lb increments) if you start day 1 with 10 lbs for the first set, by the last set on day 3 you'll be doing a single 50 lb lift, but that's using 5 lb increments.

I do something similar with my pullup routine, I start with lighter weight sets and add weight on each successive set and reduce the reps as I go. I find if I finish with a heavy single (now the weights are getting heavier) that single will tend to be a nasty looking rep with poor form, as it tends to be an explosive move from the bottom part of the lift. So I add a lighter set to finish my pullup work so I finish the last set slower with good form, just to train that neural pattern to be strong and controlled in all parts of the lift.
 

Shawn Reed

Triple-Digit Post Count
305,

I would go with either Ladders or the Fighter Pull Up Program. There have been too many people that have had tremendous success following these plans to not give serious consideration to following. Actually, I would use both, just alternate between each plan until you hit your goals.

Shawn
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
Lots of folks report pullup progress after doing the Rite of Passage from Enter The Kettlebell. The technique of pulling the bell back down from overhead to the rack position is essentially a pullup.

And the option of supersetting pullups with your presses also works really well.

-S-
 

Tarzan

More than 500 posts
I've done mine with the superset type of approach for ages. I don't do them with the desire to get a pump like a bodybuilder would with their approach to supersets, I use the presses as more of an active/productive rest. I'd have to say I did rush things a bit with only 2-3 mins rest between the presses & the pullups in my last training cycle. Now I'm in a bit better shape I'm taking longer breaks between sets.

The fighter pullup program Shawn suggested would be a good way to do it too 305. It's a progressive overload system similar to the approach you proposed in many respects, but the volume & reps would have to be scaled for weighted pullups to increase raw strength rather than adding reps and endurance. Maybe that approach would be OK on a 2 or 3 week cycle and then restarted at a higher weight if lifting higher weights is your goal.

For raw strength once you start getting past about 6 - 8 reps it's going to start getting counter productive.

Ladders are also a proven way to increase raw strength.
 

305pelusa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Thanks for the answers!

I consisted the Fighter program, but my current plan is an upper/lower body split right now. So a system three times a week seems like it'd be best.

Ladders might be better. However, I thought ladders were supposed to be use in those exercises where weight jumps were large. Like one arm KB presses. But I can modify resistance in 2.5 lbs increments. So I figure I should follow a more barbell-based programming instead of KB based??

I'm just a bit confused as to why ladders are recommended for weighted pull ups. Does that mean for bench press, squat, DL, cleans, etc, SF also recommends ladders? Where do you draw the line 0_o

Sorry if it seems I'm being annoying, I'm just curious. Thanks!
 

Shawn Reed

Triple-Digit Post Count
Give the ladders a go then and read the Ladders Reloaded thread for some great evidence of the effectiveness others experienced.

I would recommend the Milo issue as well. Very important in building the plan IMO.
 

Tarzan

More than 500 posts
Shawn obviously knows his stuff 305, after reading about the results he's coaxed out of some of his athletes, I have have to admit no-one I've trained has shown such dramatic results in such a short time. I've never focused on reps, but Shawn's athletes really seem to have set a new mark for others to aspire to.

Let us know how it all pans out.
 

305pelusa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Well ok fair enough. The issue is that ladders don't quite fit so well with the way my template is set up right now. It'd be better to work hard for 3 weeks, then do a full-week deload, instead of deloading every week.

Is there a way I can maybe modify the ladders template so it deloads one week a month, instead of one day a week?

Maybe:
Week 1: H/M/H
Week 2: M/H/M
Week 3: H/M/H
Week 4: L/L/L

My current program is far more important. The weighted pull-ups, I wanted to have as a simple add-on that would not detract. But if I'm doing a hard Pull-up ladder day on my deload week, I feel like it might end up detracting.

Any thoughts on that structure? I'm, not trying to reinvent the wheel, just trying to make sure it fits as best as possible with my current training.
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
To the OP: There are many routines that can work for you. Read the advice here, take your best guess and evaluate your progress as you.

-S-
 

Karen Smith

More than 300 posts
Master Certified Instructor
Iron Maiden
Ladders are a great way to increase your weighted pull ups. I highly recommend them as they helped me reach my Iron Maiden Pull up. I would do M/L/H days of weighted work and I trained 3x per week then deloaded as needed.

Here is just one way to use the weighted ladder depending on your Goal Weight/Current 1RM weight.
example: My goal was to get to the 24kg pull up.
20kg for 1 rep
16kg for 2 reps
12kg for 3 reps
rest and repeat x3
if this begins to get easy but still not ready for the next bell for a single rep (as we do not like to train to failure) you can increase the reps accordingly.
example:
20kg for 1 rep or 2 on a day feeling strong
16kg for 3 reps
12kg for 5 reps
rest and repeat
This way give you the volume without over doing it.

Pavel's Fighter Pull Up program as also produced great results for me and MANY others. My advice for that program is to follow it as stated and no more. As you can quickly get into an over training situation if you try to add much more to it.

Lots of great advice above you just have to give it a go and track your results to know if you are heading in the right direction to meet your goal.
 

ClaudeR

Triple-Digit Post Count
many ways to do this, I personally alternate between ladders (fixed weight, 1/2/3 x 3, increase weigh after you can do all rungs), and a slightly modified fighter pullup program (work up to 5/4/3/2/1 then do a couple of unweighted ones 8 reps x 3 sets for a week or 2 to get some volume. I believe that template was laid out on the strongfist blog some time ago)

grease the groove works wonders for pullups in general, but I feel weighted work needs another template. Always err on the side of caution, if you don't feel you can reach your numbers on a given day then don't force yourself, keep 2 or 3 reps in the tank (just like everything else in the Strong First philosophy
 

Steve W.

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I have used 54321, the fighter pullup 3RM program and ladders (alternating presses and pullups during ROP). Personally, I had my best results with 54321 (I believe my best was BW+110lbs for 2 reps on gymnastic rings). I basically did a wave cycle, 4 steps forward, 3 steps back based on the top single. The poundages on the other sets I played by ear, treating the 5 and 4 as relatively easy warm up sets and then ramping up to the top single.

The ROP ladder scheme was too much volume for me. When I did it, my elbows were always barking and I felt burned out, even using very conservative weights. Not to say a different ladder scheme, such as Karen posted wouldn't work.

FPP 3RM worked well, but I found the key to making it work was using a very conservative weight. Instead of starting with a true 3RM, I started with a "close to" 5RM, which would become an easy, comfortable 5 at the end of the cycle. This way I could repeat the cycle several times and not burn out.
 

305pelusa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Whoah, thank you Karen, Claude and Stev for the responses, those were sort of the programs I was thinking about.

@Karen Smith : So in that example of training you did, I'm guessing that's a Hard day. What did your light day look like? Just 3 singles at 20 kilos? I know light day is supposed to painlessly add in extra quality volume, but 3 singles seems like it hardly makes a different 0_o.

@Steve W. : I'm happy to see you tried out 54321 and you had good results with it. I definitely agree regular ol' ETK ladders are overkill in pull-up volume, which is why I'm hesitant to do them. Doing them with less rungs (or just less ladders). The only thing I'm hesitant about 54321 is that it might be too little volume. I figure I should average some 25-50 reps a session. But you said you seemed to do just fine with just the regular program?

Honestly, all this talk about GTG and fighter pull-up and ladders. I just want something straight forward and simple that delivers, doesn't have to be fancy or complicated. It can be straight sets (seems like nobody does those hahaha). I just don't know what kind of volume or intensity to shoot for, and how to progress from session to session. Why can't there be a Program Minimum for Weighted Pull-ups :/
 

Steve W.

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
54321 3-4x/week was enough volume for ME. It seems like that's what you want to do and want permission to do it. Okay -- permission granted ;-).

In all seriousness, go do it (or any of the other good suggestions that people have had success with; I think this is a case of "more than one way to skin a cat") and see how it works for you. You'll see soon enough how you respond and can make adjustments from there.
 

ClaudeR

Triple-Digit Post Count
Honestly, all this talk about GTG and fighter pull-up and ladders. I just want something straight forward and simple that delivers, doesn't have to be fancy or complicated. It can be straight sets (seems like nobody does those hahaha). I just don't know what kind of volume or intensity to shoot for, and how to progress from session to session. Why can't there be a Program Minimum for Weighted Pull-ups :/
Well it depends on the implements you use really...
Straight sets work well if you use plates and can increment the weight gradually, then just follow a normal progression (5/3/2 same weight a la PTTP perhaps, add 5lbs each session, and stick to the principles and waving in PTTP? that should work very well).
I use kettlebells which jump in size at least 4kgs each time, hence the need for ladders or FPP where you increase the reps instead of the weight each time... I guess that is the case with a lot of people here hence the creative loading schemes

in the end do what works for you and is the simplest (so you actually do them!).

Ladders work exceptionally well though (work up to 1/2/3 x3 until you complete all the rungs then move to higher weight -> I was able to do a strict chinup with 32kg KB on a chain after 6-7 weeks, with almost no training on WCU beforehand!)
 

305pelusa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I see. I appreciate all the input for sure. I know I can be a bit dense, I just wanted to hear people's thoughts.

I decided to test for my max in order to decide a program. I actually can't do many consecutive pull-ups (a whooping 14 of them). However, I'm a strong puller since I've worked on One arm Chinning for some time, albeit I lost the skill about a year ago.

At 140 lbs, my 1RM was 80 pounds attached. I went for 90 pounds, but ROM was a bit lacking at the top, so I feel comfortable using 80. I also tested with 45 pounds attached (which should be 85% of my max), and was able to get 5 clean reps, so I think 80 pounds plus bodyweight is a good starting point.

If I could do a lot of pull-ups, but gassed out when going heavy, I think I'd give 54321 a try (low volume, high intensity). However, seems to be the opposite. So perhaps a better idea would be a program with more volume and less intensity. I think ladders might be, after all, a better idea. I bought the MILO issue as recommended by Shawn here, and it looks like it's exactly what I'm looking for.

Thank you very much for all the help, I'll report back with my findings after finishing a cycle!
 

Northern Kettlebells

Triple-Digit Post Count
Certified Instructor
I used the fighter pull up program with extra days rest to get me to a 48kg chin up.

I started with 3,2,1,1, built it up to 5 reps then stepped up a weight training every other day, so this would fit in with training 3 days a week
 

Karen Smith

More than 300 posts
Master Certified Instructor
Iron Maiden
Whoah, thank you Karen, Claude and Stev for the responses, those were sort of the programs I was thinking about.

@Karen Smith : So in that example of training you did, I'm guessing that's a Hard day. What did your light day look like? Just 3 singles at 20 kilos? I know light day is supposed to painlessly add in extra quality volume, but 3 singles seems like it hardly makes a different 0_o.

@Steve W. : I'm happy to see you tried out 54321 and you had good results with it. I definitely agree regular ol' ETK ladders are overkill in pull-up volume, which is why I'm hesitant to do them. Doing them with less rungs (or just less ladders). The only thing I'm hesitant about 54321 is that it might be too little volume. I figure I should average some 25-50 reps a session. But you said you seemed to do just fine with just the regular program?

Honestly, all this talk about GTG and fighter pull-up and ladders. I just want something straight forward and simple that delivers, doesn't have to be fancy or complicated. It can be straight sets (seems like nobody does those hahaha). I just don't know what kind of volume or intensity to shoot for, and how to progress from session to session. Why can't there be a Program Minimum for Weighted Pull-ups :/
A light day would be a higher volume with a lighter weight like a 12kg for 5/5
 
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