Tag Archives: pullups

Update on Pull-up Master Plan and the #2 Gripper

I have blogged about grip strength before — about hand health and my quest to shut the Ironmind #2 gripper — and about my plan to master the dreaded Pull-up.  Now it’s time to fess up.   I went to the doctor today, and I’m sidelined with tendonitis.

Apparently muscles get stronger twice as fast as tendons do, and when you work your grip really hard too fast you can get tendonitis (specifically Golfer’s elbow).  The tendons just can’t keep up with the muscles.  People who work on grip strength or do lots of pulling exercises are at high risk for developing problems.  I was doing both.

Curses, foiled again.

Now its time for physical therapy to overcome the pain and get healthy.  Then I can go back at it again, with less weight and a slower approach.  I’ll post a new plan when I come up with it.

If you’re using my old plan and you’re having any pain in your elbows, particularly on the inside where that little bone sticks out, stop now, see your doctor, and rehab.  You could go past tendonitis to tendonosis, which is apparently even worse.

The Pullup Master Plan

The Pullup Master Plan

This is the plan I am using to improve my ability to do Pullups. So far it seems to be working, as I’ve gone from 3 sloppy ones to 6 very clean, dead-hang pullups in just one month. My goal is 25.  Note that this is in addition to my other workouts (Martial arts and Grip Strength).  Right now I’m doing this one right before my Grip Strength workout.

1.Do this workout 3 times/week.
2. Alternate Pullups with a lower body exercise (Reg. Squats, Russian Squats, Lunges, etc.).
3. Change the lower body exercise bi-weekly and don’t skip it. Lower body work stimulates testosterone factories (big leg muscles).
4. Always go to dead hang on Pullups (not 120 degrees)!
5. Rest 30 seconds between exercises and 1 minute between sets.

Warm up for 5 minutes with some jump rope, shadowboxing, or light calisthenics.

Set #1: Bodyweight warmup. Lower body: 8 reps. Pullups: max reps (if less than 8, get to 8 using controlled negatives — jump to bar and descend as slowly as possible)

Set #2: Add 20 lb weighted vest. Lower body: 8 reps.  Pullups: max reps (if less than 8, get to 8 using controlled negatives)

Set #3: Lower body: Add sandbag or dumbells to make 8 reps more challenging.  Pullups: max reps (if less than 8, get to 8 using controlled negatives)

Set #4: Repeat

Set #5: 20 lb weighted vest only. Lower body: 8 reps.  Pullups: max reps  (if less than 8, get to 8 using controlled negatives — same as Set #2)

Set #6: Remove vest for bodyweight only. Lower body: 8 reps.  Pullups: max reps (if less than 8, get to 8 using controlled negatives — same as Set #1)

Cool down for 5 minutes with some jump rope, shadowboxing, or light calisthenics.

If you try it and it works for you, or if you have a better routine or ideas for improvements, please comment.

Update 12/20/12: This plan ‘worked’ insofar as I packed on muscle and tripled the number of pullups I was able to do in a very short time.  On the other hand, in tandem with my radical grip strength regimen, it resulted in tendonitis in both elbows.  When I’m well I will have to start over with a less intensive plan with reduced reps and slowly increasing weight over time.  ~Mitch