CrossFit Discussion Board

CrossFit Discussion Board (
-   Exercises (
-   -   My obsession with pull-ups (

Tim Walsh 08-02-2006 03:39 PM

So, almost exactly three years ago, before going into my senior year of high school, I remember reading in an article (Men's Health, I think) that the majority of adult men cannot do a single pull-up. I never did pull-ups but thought I was pretty athletic, so I gave it a try. Well, I couldn't even get out of a deadhang so I was forced to do negatives for my first few weeks of workouts, and afterwards I became obsessed.

Three years later, never taking much more than a couple weeks off from pull-ups, I have made some progress, but I'm not happy with it. In the beginning of July I might have hit 15 after losing about 10 pounds since May, but I can't do that many right now. My progress has been fairly steady, but slow. I got a few of my friends into doing pull-ups, and now I've seen them progress to where I am in a much shorter time frame. And seeing how many pull-ups some of you guys (especially you girls) can do is extremely depressing.

I have tried Recon Ron, but have had absolutely no success with it. I feel very burned out after a little more than a week and my hands just can't take it anymore (maybe jumping in around week 6 and doing 10/7/6/6/5 is too much?). I have also played with the Armstrong program a little. My workout logs show that I improved by a rep or two over a few weeks, but I believe I stopped because, again, I felt burned out from pulling 5 days/week. Earlier this summer I also tried doing a lot of weighted negatives (remembering my early days of not being able to do a pull-up) with a 60 pound backpack. Eventually, I was able to complete a rep with it and I really improved my strength but it was VERY hard on my hands (it doesn't help that my bar here at home does not stay still, it rotates in your hand). Even still, I think that is what got me to hit 14 (and perhaps 15) for the first time.

So now I'm asking for your opinion? Where do I take my training from here? I'm thinking about doing a workout of weighted pull-ups on Wednesdays (maybe some heavy negatives) and then trying my max every Saturday. I should note that the rest of my training is a lot of running to improve my 5-k time, Dan John's OLAD program (pull-ups would be my lift on Wednesday), and some pushups after every workout.

By the way, I will only do deadhang pull-ups.

You can see a chart of my progress by the month here:

You can also see a picture of what I have to work with here (note, I think my lats are of a decent size and I certainly don't have much weight in bodyfat holding me back):

Thanks for your help,


Andy Shirley 08-02-2006 04:50 PM

Why only deadhang? Kipping works, with proven carryover into deadhang numbers(see high numbers of deadhangs by kipping Crossfitters)

Don't max so often.

Tim Walsh 08-02-2006 05:35 PM

I knew this would come up... I just want to know that when my numbers are increasing it is because I am getting stronger, not because I am becoming more skilled at kipping. Since I started I have always been a real stickler about form, going from my arms completely locked out and relaxed to my chest touching the bar and I have looked down my nose at anything less than that.

But, you are saying to use kipping as a form of training to improve my deadhang numbers... please explain.

Also, about maxing... how often do you think I should test myself? Afterall, even the Armstrong program has you max out at least once a week. One of the problems I had with the Recon Ron program is that after doing no more than 10 or 11 reps at one time, 10 or 11 started to FEEL like my max, and then I couldn't do the next week that called for 12.


Aushion Chatman 08-02-2006 05:42 PM

Another pull-up addict here...

Weighted is a good way to go...I'm not good at nor do I design programs for other people, so maybe someone else can help you do that.

I would also recommend learning the kipping pull-up and integrating that into your work like Andy said. Unless the deadhang is part of your PFA, if not, I wouldn't worry about it. I haven't lost my deadhang numbers at all, and I rarely do them.


Andy Shirley 08-02-2006 06:19 PM

Tim: I can't really explain, its one of those "black-box" things. It just happens.

My initial reply was going to suggest going with the WOD on the 3-1 schedule for a while, learning to kip, and seeing what happens to you deadhang numbers.

Also to your 5k time. Lots of beginning CFers coming from a running background have found they get faster with the CF emphasis on 400-800 sprints, lots of leg strength(squats thrusters and the oly lifts), etc.

I'm pretty sure people have hybridized OLAD and CF. More common would be the ME(max effort)/CF combo. search the message boards for the details. A lot of the time its not really even necessary given the main page WOD propensity for ME lifting(yesterday-clean 7x1, few days ago-DL BP SQ 3-2-2-1-1-1, etc).

Tim Walsh 08-02-2006 06:21 PM

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense... why treat pullups any different than any other weight training exercise? I can remember getting pinned under a 115-lb barbell during one of my first benchpress workouts... a couple years later, maxing out around 200, I could do at least a couple dozen reps with that weight.

Pushups are different, because they are so easy that 30 or 40 reps takes very little out of me, so I can train those everyday. But I wouldn't train a heavy benchpress or deadlift everyday. Why do it with pullups?

Thing is, significantly increasing my max pull will take a while. And I'm cool with that, but what about all those folks that claim they went from 4 pullups to 20 in two months just by training them everyday?


William Winger 08-02-2006 06:31 PM

I don't have the link, but I'm sure someone will post a page on 'greasing the groove'.

The basic premise is to do sub-maximal numbers of pullups three times daily, but spread out throughout the day. Morning, afternoon, and night.

I haven't tried it, but I'm sure there will be plenty of testimony accompanying the official explanation (again, sorry I don't know where it is).

Tim Walsh 08-02-2006 06:33 PM

Andy, I have thought about just dropping everything and doing the WOD for my training, but it intimidates me. For one, I just don't yet have enough faith to put my training (which is so important to me) into the hands of someone else, where I don't even know what is coming from one day to the next. I've finally started making good progress with my running by committing long term to a comprehensive training plan, and I recently decided to do the same sort of thing with my lifting (doing OLAD). The truth is, in the past my training was much more like WOD, doing some lifting, some bodyweight stuff, some track workouts, some distance, etc. sort of randomly.

Also, getting started with the WOD is intimidating because I would have to start from scratch learning a lot of the more technical O-lifts (I like power-cleans but I've only dabbled with squat-cleans and snatches and the like) and gymnastics stuff. I don't feel like I have the time for such things right now even though I'm sure it would benefit me over the long term. But at the moment, I'm training to be an Army officer and I'm taking PT tests every six weeks.

But I am willing to experiment with the kipping if you really think it will help. I can take those Saturdays that I planned on testing my max and instead do some ladders or something with kipping.


Tim Walsh 08-02-2006 06:35 PM

William, thanks but I'm quite familiar with Pavel's Grease the Groove... it is the basic idea behind the Recon Ron program that I referenced. I have experimented with it in the past several times without success, as I detailed in my original post.

Have you tried it yourself?


William Winger 08-02-2006 06:37 PM

Ok, did a quick search, and this isn't the article on GTG I remember reading, but here's one that at least purports to be.

I'd search the forum for old posts if I were you, good luck.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:18 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
CrossFit is a registered trademark of CrossFit Inc.