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Next level pullup training

Why are pullups difficult

You love pullups and have the basic movement more or less mastered? Stay hungry! Step up your game by learning the advanced version of everyone’s favorite bodyweight strength exercise and set those muscles their next challenge.

State of affairs: pullup pro

Increasing from 10 to 15 strict and unbroken pullups requires dedication, effort and time. If you are easily able to manage 10 pullups, you’ve more than likely reached a point of diminishing returns with every exercise. This means your results become less obvious the more advanced you get. Reached that stage? Then it’s time to think about giving weights a go.


3 ways to add weight to your pullups:

  • add weight to a dipping belt, from behind to prevent injury
  • hold dumbbell between your legs
  • wear a weighted vest

Does more weight equal more strength?

For sure! As an advanced Free Athlete, you are confident at bodyweight pullups, your technique is sound and you execute the movement efficiently. However, through neuromuscular strengthening and further adaptations to your energy system, weighted pullups challenge and train your muscles in a different way. Science suggests that the nervous system can transmit signals better from the brain to the muscles when more weight is applied. More force means the muscles simply become stronger as your brain is getting used to the increased weight and is trained accordingly.

Further benefits of weighted pullups

Ever heard of the term “transfer process”? Here’s what happens: with weighted pullups you can increase the amount of regular pullups you are able to do - an advantage not all variations guarantee. As we already mentioned before, when you perform weighted pullups, your brain is trained to deal with more exhaustion. Because of this, when you do a regular pullup, your brain expects more weight to be added, making regular pullups feel easier and you are therefore able to perform even more.

There are different recommendations on how to get the best strength gains through weighted pullups. One way is by doing 4 sets consisting of, let’s say, 5 weighted pullups in one go, with a 2-minute rest in between the sets. With low rep sets like these you activate all types of muscle fibers, therefore challenging your muscles more than non-weighted pullups. The more mass you have to lift, the more intense your training becomes. The result of this increased stimulus on your muscles is an increase in muscle size - also known as hypertrophy. The weights to be applied should vary from one training week to another.

Another plus point of weighted pullups is that not only will the muscles in your arms, back, shoulders and core be trained but also your forearms and grip strength.

Grip variations and 3D training

The grip you use has a major impact on which muscles are engaged during a pullup. If you want to test something new, try tight grips, hammer or inverted grips. These are just a few ways to challenge your muscles differently.

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You can also try switching to another dimension of training. Whilst pullups belong to the group of frontal planes, why not give the transverse or sagittal planes a go with sphinx pushups for instance? 3D training will indirectly strengthen and improve your pullup technique by working your muscles from a different angle.

Think your a pro? Then put your strength to the test.