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  1. #1
    Sparge's Avatar
    Sparge is offline Junior Member
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    Question Pullups...argh...

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    Some background: I'm a 51 year old man, 6', now 196 lbs. I've been doing the PBF workouts pretty regularly since mid-January. I row competitively and have a Concept 2 erg at home.

    When I did the self assessment before starting I was only able to do only 2 pullups. Squats and planks were another story, since my rowing training works the same muscle groups. Here's where I started after the self assessment:

    Exercise PBF Level
    pushups 2
    pullups 1
    squats 4
    overhead press 2
    planks 3

    I've progressed nicely through the levels. I'm currently:

    Exercise PBF Level
    pushups 2
    pullups 4
    squats 6
    overhead press 4
    planks 8

    Looks pretty good. Although I haven't leveled in pushups yet I'm making steady progress. Everything else is at the Essential Primal Movement level or better.

    Unfortunately, my first workout at level 4 pullups yielded no improvement over my self assessment: 2 pullups and 2 chinups.

    Argh! Nearly two months of chair-assisted pullups and reverse pullups and chinups, and no progress whatsoever? That's discouraging, to say the least.

    Anyone else been through a similar pullup situation?

  2. #2
    john_e_turner_ii's Avatar
    john_e_turner_ii is offline Senior Member
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    Pullups are tough. At almost 200 pounds, it will be difficult for you to do pullups for a while. I weight 150 pounds, at 5'9", and that 50 pound deficit makes a huge difference. Just be patient and keep at it.

  3. #3
    Patrick's Avatar
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    Pull-ups are the slowest to advance, I find. That said...

    What are you using for pull-ups? If it's in a spot that you pass by often, fuckin' go to town every time you pass by it. Do reverse grips, swap up which hands are pull/chin, etc. Just do your max each time. I started seeing serious progress when I stopped thinking that exercise is only for specific days. I always do some pull-ups/chin-ups/reverses when I go past my bar. Slow and steady is getting me there!

    If you go past your pull-up station, DO 'EM.
    "Oh, you wanted answers...yeah, sorry, I'm not so good with those. Uh, probably something to do with science or something..." -- canio6

    August 2010: 207 lb, 37" waist, 25+% BF | Currently: 177 lb, 33" waist, ~15% BF

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  4. #4
    iniQuity's Avatar
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    Pull ups are definitely a slow builder, just keep at them. How slow are your negatives? do SUPER slow negatives and see if you can stop at certain spots and just count to 5 (or to ten really fast, I find that when one is hanging on for dear life counting slow is impossible) and work that in sets too. Static holds are really great for building strength. Hold for 5 at the top, lower yourself a tad, count again, lower just a little more, count again, etc etc.. if you need to do this with assistance you can but eventually you want to just hold it.

  5. #5
    Simon's Avatar
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    I found it really slow as well - just need to keep the faith, get slightly obsessive about it and results will come. I was stuck on 3 for ages (months) then 4 came, 5 and 6 swiftly followed and I am now on 11.

  6. #6
    The Big L's Avatar
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    Pull yourself together, man! You gotta hang in there! I hope these words of encouragement help lift your spirits a bit.

    I agree with the others that pull up progress can feel very slow sometimes. It took me a year to go from 5 to 15, though I probably went about it inefficiently. I've recently started some weighted pull ups to help get me past 15. Another thing I'm trying is doing my reps quite slowly with as much ROM as possible. It makes sets more challenging right now, but I think it will pay off.

  7. #7
    Thor Falk's Avatar
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    I would argue to be slightly careful at your age to force a build up quickly the reason being that your tendons might no longer be able to take it as when you were 20 (according to my physio this starts at 30). So jumping up to the bar every time you walk by and doing negs might be doing your body a disservice - if you read the workouts on my blog you see that I had to stop pull-ups for a while now because of tendonitis.

    My advice: treat them like any other heavy lift, do a 5x5 protocol, and add 2.5kg every 2-3 days, with no pull-ups on the off days. How? Use a heavy elastic and precise weights to clip on your belt. You wouldn't start squatting with 100kg on your back after all. Building up to unsupported pull-ups | Thor Falk

    And in case you ask: I did not follow my own advice, at least not at the beginning. I did like everyone else up here suggested...

  8. #8
    dexlt's Avatar
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    Well.... You might give "metabolic/jumping pull-ups" a try.

    Stand under your bar, you'll need and elevate yourself via some sturdy platform to a height where if you extend your arms straight up - the bar will hit +/- about mid-way between your wrists and elbows.

    Choose the most comfortable grip (pull-up, chin-up, or neutral), squat down until your arms are straight then jump up and pull simultaneously. Vary the pace of the jumps....and the eccentric (lowering) rates.

    As you progress through a set, you'll eventually be jumping more than pulling. Go to failure. Kind of like an all-out row/sprint. Actually, think "upper-body squats"... I pick a total rep scheme, say, "Today, I'll do 100 reps in as many sets as it takes..."

    After a couple sessions of jumps, try standard pulls then finish with jumps to failure.

    Good luck!

    This regimen/technique would seem to work well with your rowing...especially conditiong for the sprints.

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    Sparge's Avatar
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    Wow, so much great advice and encouragement... I'm a little overwhelmed. Thanks everyone who's responded.

    I haven't given up, by any means, just a little discouraged is all. I'll keep plugging away at 'em.

    I might get down to 180 eventually...haven't seen that since high school...so I don't think I can count on weight loss for a major contribution.

    My bar is the doorway of my "man room", so I'll try making a habit of using it more between workouts. (Don't worry, Thor, I'll be careful not to overdo it--and I'm heading over to check your blog now.)

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick View Post
    Pull-ups are the slowest to advance, I find. That said...

    What are you using for pull-ups? If it's in a spot that you pass by often, fuckin' go to town every time you pass by it. Do reverse grips, swap up which hands are pull/chin, etc. Just do your max each time. I started seeing serious progress when I stopped thinking that exercise is only for specific days. I always do some pull-ups/chin-ups/reverses when I go past my bar. Slow and steady is getting me there!

    If you go past your pull-up station, DO 'EM.
    That's what's been working for me. I started out at zero and kept forcing the issue at one. Soon it was two, then it was three, then it was four... now I can force the issue at 5. I installed a pullup bar in my basement (nailed the sucker right into a joist) and keep a portable one in my office. When I get some down time, or want to blow off steam, I knock out a set of pullups. Chin-ups, pullups, wide grip, close grip, etc. Every single day.

    I was worried about overtraining my back but this seems to be working.

    Also, I weigh about 215lbs but a good bit of that is muscle.

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