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★ ★ ★ Challenge Yourself: Do a Pull-Up in 2012 ★ ★ ★

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  • ★ ★ ★ Challenge Yourself: Do a Pull-Up in 2012 ★ ★ ★

    NOTE: This thread was from 2012. If you want to join in, I suggest using this thread for 2013 instead:

    If you can't currently do an unassisted pull-up and you are ready to set this goal, this is the place for you! Reply to sign up.

    And for those of you who can already do pull-ups (either before now, or since joining this challenge), please do stick around and offer your sage wisdom and/or cheering from the top of that bar!

    First, a definition: "Pull-ups" are the type with your palms facing away; "chin-ups" with palms inward are easier for most people. But we're here to do a pull-up! (kipping or dead hang, just get that chin over the bar in an overhand grip without assistance.)

    Some encouragement

    Some of us have never done a pull-up before in our lives, while others are trying to get back in condition to do pull-ups again. Depending on condition, inherent and trained upper body strength, etc., some will achieve a pull-up right away and others may take all year (or longer!) to get to our goal. Just focus on what it takes to get there, and try not to be dismayed by how long it may take you to get there.

    The mere idea of officially signing up will be intimidating for some: "what if I can't do it by the end of the year?" I suggest that you sign up anyway as a way of making a commitment to yourself and as an additional reason to keep coming back here for tips and motivation.

    Come back to this page for updates

    You can come back to the first page any time for a synopsis because I'll continue editing the first few entries as follows:
    • This first post has the latest sign-up list.
    • The next replies below will include an ongoing summary of useful links and tips. I started with key items from the past thread and will add more from this current one.

    Rather than assume everyone from last year necessarily wants to compete again, here's a fresh list of participants. Reply to let me know and I'll add you to the list.

    2012 participants in alphabetical order."★" means pull-up achieved! Still accepting signups. (Final update 2013-01-07)

    adameads ★ 2012-03-28
    AliceAnne ★ 2012-11-30
    B. Knight
    Carolyn (iniQuity's GF)
    excursivey ★ 2012-12-12
    Kakes ★ 2012-02-13
    MFSUNSHINE ★ 2012-03-28
    Mike Gager
    naiadknight ★ 2012-01-21
    PrimalJosh ★ 2012-07-02
    Swedish Eve
    Tribal Rob ★ 2012-05-02
    Urban Forager ★ 2012-08-08

    Read on for the lists of of resources and tips, and after that replies from the participant community.
    Last edited by Jenny; 05-17-2013, 06:56 AM.
    "Trust me, you will soon enter a magical land full of delicious steakflowers, with butterbacons fluttering around over the extremely rompable grass and hillsides."

  • #2
    I will continue editing the first couple replies I added here as placeholders so this becomes an ever-growing list resources and tips. Have more to suggest, either from the old thread or new info? Reply here!

    Summary of the first couple months of last year's thread

    There are a lot of bars you can use over on Amazon:
    The ones that don't require screws are pretty stable for dead-hang, but I would be careful jumping up onto it and I wouldn't use them for kipping.

    If you're interested in using resistance bands (basically giant rubber bands) for assistance as you train, there are Woody Bands and similar variations:

    and regarding resistance bands:
    Originally posted by zoebird View Post
    surgical tubing, which you can find at stores that cater to those who get in home care, is an inexpensive alternative to resistance bands. some gym-equipment stores will sell both, as well, and it's usually a bit more expensive there than the home-care stores.
    Originally posted by iniQuity View Post
    Work your negatives, work them hard! trying to get positive reps will be much easier once you can do SLOW negatives.

    Negative: Jump up to the bar, hold with your chin over the bar, try to lower yourself as slowly and controlled as possible. You will go from wobbly mess to controlled negative in a few weeks time. Eventually do it for reps and start stopping yourself at various points of the negative. Once you're strong at that, stop halfway through the rep and try to pull yourself up. Consider working on chin ups first (palms facing you) as they'll build your biceps along with your back more directly than pull ups will, but practice both daily! daily practice is key. Good luck to you all, I'll be watching...

    This video explains that pretty well:

    Take aways:

    - practice daily, and several times a day if you're "fresh" (no muscle fatigue)
    - don't work to failure, though I'd argue that the assisted ones she did at the end sort of qualify as pushing failure, but that's really not too big a deal. Once in a while really "punish" the muscle, but most of the time keep it fresh.(
    Originally posted by carlh View Post
    I definitely recommend checking out Al Kavadlo's inspirational and informative pullup videos over on his site! Al Kavadlo – We're Working Out! Pull-ups!
    Originally posted by tfarny View Post
    you might try to do an assisted variation that you can do 4 or 5 of in a row for a while, because that amount of strain is less likely to injure you and so that you can get in your "volume". That might just be 5 reps of 30 seconds of hanging with your shoulders tucked back for a while.
    Also, if you can get a hold of some gymnastics rings, you can do inverted rows at various degrees of difficulty that work most of the same muscles. Everyone can do some version of an inverted row.
    Originally posted by iniQuity View Post
    don't forget to incorporate some STATIC HOLDS when training pull-ups. Static holds are basically holding any part of a movement for a few seconds. In pull-ups the important parts to hold at first can be the top position, jump up and hold it, squeeze any muscle you feel needs squeezing (this can be an entire body thing, squeeze your abs, back, arms, glutes, quads, everything, it will recruit more strength to the parts that are holding you up) then lower to complete your negative. Once you're stronger you can start holding at the bottom of the rep.

    Static holds are good to throw in after a few regular reps and/or negatives. It's not too great an idea to do them first because they drain the muscle and are mentally tough as well, but every now and then switch it up and do your static holds first!

    WARNING: If watching with kids/sensitive adults, I drop the f-bomb at the end of this video.

    - 5 wide pull ups, 10 second static hold chin over bar -- 10 second rest (I didn't even warm up to do this, so I took longer rest for sure, nothing wrong with that but for those that really wanna do the routine right, the 10 sec rest is a must)
    - 5 wide pull ups, 10 sec static hold head AGAINST bar -- 10 sec rest (didn't read that right, held it chin above bar)
    ( .. this next part I did wrong. I held each rep for what I thought was 5 seconds, came out to around 3-4 sec holds ...)
    - 5 close grip chin ups (palms facing you) 2 second static holds at the top and at the " L " of each rep. 10 second rest.
    - 1 "phorm" pull up, not advisable for beginners can really do a number on your shoulders. For anybody interested though a "phorm" pull up is when you stand under the bar and grab it with a close grip and lift yourself up by making your elbows pull sideways instead of in front of you. Hold that for 10 seconds, feel your shoulders scream. This hold made me not be able to do a pull up for a few days, been warned!! another 10 sec rest afer that.
    - Soldier pull ups. Come up to the bar and grab it like you would a baseball bat (one hand in front of the other -- you can see me interlocking my fingers, so I technically did it wrong) hold it on one side for 10 seconds chin above bar, then slightly lower and hold for 10 seconds head against bar. Drop down, switch hands, repeat on the other side. 10 second rest.
    - close grip pull up negatives, as many as you can. Explode up and slowly lower yourself.
    Originally posted by Ellie G View Post
    batty posted this link in her journal a while back -- and endorsed its advice, so you know it's good:Your First Pullup - Lose Stubborn Fat!
    Originally posted by tfarny View Post
    The assisted machine is the worst way to get the pullup, you should do hanging, negatives, leg-on-chair, and other methods to practice. Seriously. Pullups are a full body exercise and that assist machine not only helps with the weight but removes the lower body component, making it an incomplete practice.
    Originally posted by zoebird View Post
    the main thing is to get the full range of motion too, and think about it from the elbows. DH and i were talking about this. the elbows make an arc, and if you think about drawing the elbow from eye level (extended arms) to nearly behind you or touching the sides of your rib cage.

    and here's another training tip: shrug first. that is, draw the shoulders down and together while just hanging. even if you do just that small movement a number of times, it will help get that first part of the movement into place.
    Last edited by Jenny; 01-05-2012, 10:29 AM.
    "Trust me, you will soon enter a magical land full of delicious steakflowers, with butterbacons fluttering around over the extremely rompable grass and hillsides."


    • #3
      Originally posted by Paleobird View Post
      I think I finally got the Woody Bands working right today. My pull up bar is higher than most because it hangs from an overhead trellis on my patio. What I needed was a sturdy step ladder to get up high enough to get my knee in the loop of the band without getting all twisted around. With the strongest band Woody makes, I can do about half a pull up, from hanging to arms at 90 degree angles. With one big toe on the step ladder plus that band I was able to get my chin over the bar.

      I'm finding that the Woody Bands help with the negatives too. They help keep you from dropping like a rock while you build up some strength of your own.
      Originally posted by tfarny View Post
      When you are really sore, which goes away, try doing a super easy version of the exercise which made you sore, a few times as a stretch. It's the only thing that really relieves soreness - or a hard massage is good, but I think exercise is best.
      Originally posted by Sigi View Post
      I've read/heard many positive reviews of the product, and it looks to me exactly like what Mark uses in his Primal Blueprint Fitness video demonstrations. The portability/ease of assembly and disassembly would be awesome ...
      Originally posted by Paleobird View Post
      I have figured out that I need to make the pull ups the first thing I do out of the five moves instead of putting them off until my arms are all tired from the other things.

      I think I'm finally getting the hang of those Woody bands. It's a matter of playing around with them until you find the one that is the right strength for your height and weight. Enough stretch to give you a boost but not enough to be a cheat. I've found that the strongest of the bands won't let me get to my full arm extension which is a nice boost up but is kind of a cheat if I want to work up to "real" pull ups.
      Originally posted by iniQuity View Post
      I made a video about using a door frame pull up bar for a different thread but maybe it can be of help here. I don't go over how to train for a pull up, but once you get your first, you should start playing with different grips and hand positions and that's something I go over in the video. Here's a link:
      Originally posted by Jenny View Post
      For those who can do chin-ups but not pull-ups, maybe you could use an alternating grip as an intermediate step -- one overhand grip, one underhand grip. Start with your dominant arm underhand and then swap.
      Originally posted by iniQuity View Post
      chin ups are easier because your wrist and hand placement prompts for more bicep recruitment when doing the movement. However, that doesn’t mean a pull up is superior, it just uses slightly different muscles, and slightly less bicep, more forearm, little things really.

      Paleobird has a great idea of using resistance bands backwards, I’m going to have my gf try that, she’s got decent negatives but I think that can really help to develop the muscles. I think if you place the bands over the bar like I used the towel in the video I posted in this thread you could maybe kneel down and pull the bands down. You could probably also put a broom stick or something through the handles so that it more closely resembles a bar (so that it’s more of an even movement, as we all tend to be stronger in our dominant side)
      Originally posted by iniQuity View Post
      Put another quick video together, it addresses:
      - hand placement // difference between chin ups and pull ups
      - how to use elastic bands (is this the same as woody bands?) and pvc pipe to fashion a pull up bar as Paleobird suggested
      - one arm elastic band work, I personally found it to be too easy with two hands and I believe you guys might find it too easy as well.

      Don't forget to mix the grip like Jenny said, one palm can face you and the other can face away from you, you can even just hang this way and get your hands used to the weight.

      and that's it. I have a lot of fun making these, this was just one straight take and the camera work is beyond lame so just bear with, at least it's not as dark as the one before. Also, I'm totally being a little silly on this one, and I hope nobody finds it offensive, I don't really think it is but you never know...

      Any questions or clarifications just ask. I just realized that coming up with a "how to start" video is easily found on the web so just use the PBF for that, I might still make one in the future. Hope this helps.
      Originally posted by Jenny View Post
      Originally posted by gunn parker View Post
      I have a pullup bar outside on my patio and what I did was to put a chair just at the back of the bar, with the seat section facing the bar. Then I would hang from the bar and bend my knees and place my insteps on the seat, then as I pulled up with my arms I could also push down with my feet at the same time.

      If you have some free weights at home you could also try to do some upright rows or bent over rows to help build your lats.

      upright row with bar.

      bent over row with water bottle.
      Originally posted by iniQuity View Post
      finish with the easiest version of the pull up you can think of and work it for higher reps (10-15 reps) because the direct route is best but making the movement easier can help tremendously. It can look like this:
      - negatives for 5 reps
      - single leg assisted pull ups or chin ups for 5-10 reps
      - double leg assisted pu or cu for 15 reps.

      That can be split into sets of two or three so two sets of 5 negatives then the others. Also everybody should consider making some type of suspension training apparatus. I just bought a pair of gymnastic rings but before that I just used a length of rope which cost under $10 at home depot and you can put a pipe thru it. Hang it from your bar. This will allow you to elevate your feet on a chair and practice pull ups that way...
      Originally posted by iniQuity View Post
      Aw you guys make me feel warm inside and since we’re being chummy I have to say I do the videos not as a way to show off but because I want to see you all eventually do this, post it (if you can) and feel proud for yourselves like I did, and like I can tell my gf will be when she gets hers. It’s a very empowering feeling so I’m more than happy to help.

      I will always and forever recommend switching grips when working at this skill, so yes, you should absolutely do some chin up work as well. If your bar has the neutral grip (the pegs that stick out) you should work those as well.

      Chin ups do present some benefits:

      - more bicep and forearm recruitment which will result in more bicep strength and growth (depending on your physiology, some people just don’t develop big biceps)
      - they are safer on your joints, especially your elbow joints since some people can put their hands out a bit too wide when doing pull ups, the chin up is more “natural” of a movement so your body knows just how far wide you can safely put your arms out, also, there’s less chance of bowing out your elbows in a chin up.
      - some say they hit the lats more, however the same can be said for pull ups, I don’t think one works the lats that much more than the other.

      Also, I hope you guys aren’t neglecting push ups in your routine! Once you’re all getting stronger and more conditioned it would be a good idea to do a set of pull ups followed by a set of push ups (you can rest in between sets, unless you’re trying to superset in which case more power to you!) push ups are a great, great, great exercise that doesn’t get enough love sometimes.
      Originally posted by TigerLily View Post
      At the playground, you can also work on Australian pull-ups. If waist high is too tough for now, find a bar that is chest high. You WILL work the muscles that need to be worked, even at chest high. You'll feel it the next day. (If anyone else has access to a gym, you can do these on the Smith machine.)

      Originally posted by iniQuity View Post

      Edit: Notice the 3:00 mark how I change where my feet are positioned, that makes a difference in the leverage and weight distribution but also makes the movement more closely resemble an actual pull up. The other position was more of an Australian pull up.
      ... and if you want to keep reading the old thread for tips, continue from here: (but remember that thread is old, so please stick with replying here instead of resurrecting it.)
      Last edited by Jenny; 01-05-2012, 10:14 AM.
      "Trust me, you will soon enter a magical land full of delicious steakflowers, with butterbacons fluttering around over the extremely rompable grass and hillsides."


      • #4
        Tips from this year's thread start here

        Originally posted by MikeEnRegalia View Post
        Originally posted by Dirlot View Post
        For those trying to do pullups follow convict conditioning or the primal blueprint exercise guide for a progression guide (I am sure there are others). Try Paval's "greasing the grove". What ever stage you are for 5-8 reps try doing one every time you pass a station.
        Originally posted by tplank View Post
        I think the best advice I received on other threads was to stick with movements that at least get you close to real pull-ups. I really think the austrailian pull ups are what turned the corner for me
        Originally posted by Dirlot View Post
        Something my daughter tried and it worked for her. I think there may have been some days off so call them working days.
        Day 1 - one negative (4s down)
        Day 2 - two negatives
        Day 3 - three negatives
        Day 14 - fourteen negatives
        Day 15 - one pullup
        Originally posted by badly_dubbed View Post
        little mind tip i taught my GF on pullups: imagine pulling the bar down towards you as opposed to pulling yourself up towards the bar..... in other words, think the bar is moving and you are staying still.... its a mind trick that sometimes works (it did with her anyway)
        Originally posted by Scogg View Post
        Rhabdomyolysis on Google Take the "Ease into it" advice seriously.
        Originally posted by naiadknight View Post
        For those who can't find a bar for an Australian pull-up: I found two ways to do it at the house without having a specific bar for it. I'm alternating between the two.
        1) If you have a futon, or a bed that sits a couple feet off the ground, you're in luck. Just use one of the support bars as a pull-up bar, after GENTLY testing one for stability and such. ...
        2) If that idea skeeves you out, hang your pull up bar in the door or wherever. Then grab a kitchen stool, ladder, or other sturdy article that can resist a decent amount of weight and shoving. I use a kitchen stool shoved up against the island. The key here is to either have a partner or something to jam your "helper" against....
        Originally posted by otzi View Post
        Do pullups whenever you can. Focus on form more than numbers. Don't go to failure every day, but 1 or 2 short. Go to failure once every couple weeks, just to guage your progress. Switch up the grip: over hand, underhand, one of each hand, wide, narrow.
        To be continued!

        The placeholders below are because there's a 10,000 character limit and I want plenty of space for more tips that may come up in the future.
        Last edited by Jenny; 02-09-2012, 08:48 AM.
        "Trust me, you will soon enter a magical land full of delicious steakflowers, with butterbacons fluttering around over the extremely rompable grass and hillsides."


        • #5
          Placeholder for adding mass quantities of tips later.
          "Trust me, you will soon enter a magical land full of delicious steakflowers, with butterbacons fluttering around over the extremely rompable grass and hillsides."


          • #6
            Placeholder for adding tips beyond imagination later.
            "Trust me, you will soon enter a magical land full of delicious steakflowers, with butterbacons fluttering around over the extremely rompable grass and hillsides."


            • #7
              How many of these things do I really need? Who knows... surely this is enough...
              "Trust me, you will soon enter a magical land full of delicious steakflowers, with butterbacons fluttering around over the extremely rompable grass and hillsides."


              • #8
                Maybe one more juust in case. Sorry folks!
                "Trust me, you will soon enter a magical land full of delicious steakflowers, with butterbacons fluttering around over the extremely rompable grass and hillsides."


                • #9
                  I'm in Jenny!!
                  I was in last years Challenge. I went from nothing to 3/4 of a chin-up!
                  If I start with my arms at a 90 degree angle, I can lift up the rest of the way and very slowly lower back down.
                  As far as pull-ups...I can do a controlled reverse for 4 seconds
                  "Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be." Kurt Vonnegut
                  "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." Douglas Adams
                  "Moderation sucks." Suse
                  "Wine is a vegetable." Meaty
                  "Every decision you make, from what you eat to what you do with your time tonight, turns you into who you are tomorrow and the day after that." Cmdr Chris Hadfield



                  • #10
                    I'm in! I cannot do a pull up(chin up) at all. I pretty much lack any upper body strength. I've been trying to build it up, but can't seem to get any where.
                    "Fat gives things flavor." -Julia Child
                    "It's perfect! Even if it's not, who cares. No excuses." -Julia Child

                    A cast iron skillet is a lifestyle, not a tool.

                    My sunshine and bacon filled journal


                    • #11
                      Totally In!

                      my info:

                      If you can't tell the truth about yourself, you can't tell it about other people --- Virginia Woolf

                      My journal


                      • #12
                        Cool, I'm adding people as they post here.

                        I just realized I didn't give any background for myself. I joined the thread first thing last year, and between pregnancy recovery and general laze, I managed to totally fail to bother to train to do a pull-up. So, I gotta get cracking. Here's to 2012!
                        "Trust me, you will soon enter a magical land full of delicious steakflowers, with butterbacons fluttering around over the extremely rompable grass and hillsides."


                        • #13
                          Since going primal i can do 2 pullups. prior to primal i could barely do one! i hope to be able to do 10 within a month!!!!
                          Started Primal November 20, 2011
                          Slipped from Christmas-New Years
                          January 2, 2012 until Death= 100% Primal/Paleo

                          Start Weight-210
                          Goal Weight-Skinny with a 6 pack and lean all around



                          • #14
                            Very cool, congratulations for already achieving this, Bosstycoon. Any suggestions for us?
                            "Trust me, you will soon enter a magical land full of delicious steakflowers, with butterbacons fluttering around over the extremely rompable grass and hillsides."


                            • #15
                              Count me in. I have a pull-up-bar at my door since November, and at first I thought I could do a pull-up by Christmas. Oh I was wrong! I still can't do more than 5 assisted pull-ups. Well, I hope next Christmas I will be able to do one or two
                              Turnstone's world - not really a journal...