Hi Georgie! I enjoy reading your website. I admire you for your courage to move to Colorado. I have visited several times and love it there. I am a cyclist and it doesnt get much better than Colorado. Anyway, I’m wondering how you started doing your chin up/pull ups. I strength train 3 days a week with heavy weights and feel I am strong but can’t seem to do a pull up. It really bothers me!!! Any advice as to your progression and what your starting point was? Thanks, Shelley
Colorado is great, I did a lot of road biking for a few years but got scared after hearing so many stories of deadly crashes between cars and bikers. So I put my bike in storage and kept saying ”after we move”… so now I have no excuse and am planning to pull it out this weekend to get reacquainted. I did a few centuries back in NJ and LOVED it. So much fun, like a marathon that doesn’t beat up your joints so much.
To start with pullups or chinups, there are two exercises I recommend. First is the assisted pull up. You can use the machine at the gym that helps you by taking off some of your weight, or you can use rubber bands to help decrease the amount of weight you have to pull. I have always liked a 5 x 5 rep scheme was good for building strength. (5 sets of 5 reps each). When you can get through 5×5 with a given weight, go with slightly less resistance the next workout.
The other exercise I suggest is doing negatives. To do that, go to the pullup bar and either use a chair or jump to get yourself up to the top part of the motion (with your chin over the bar), and then lower yourself as slowly as you can. Aim to take at least 3 seconds on the way down so you are resisting the whole way. Do 3-5 reps like this, then rest or do another exercise, then come back and try 3-5 more. I wouldn’t do this the same day as the assisted pullups. I’d say do either one of these exercises every other workout and you should see some progress.
Also, whatever exercise I’m working on hardest gets done first in my workout. So I hit the pullups right after a warm up – I don’t want to do them when I’m already fried at the end of my workout! And take enough rest between sets to really recover, don’t rush too much. As far as my progression, I found that doing pullups/chinups one day a week kept me at the same number, but increasing to 3 days per week helped me start improving, as well as doing more total reps per workout. So instead of just 1 or 2 sets, I now will do 5-8 sets, but space them out throughout the workout. This week on Monday and Tuesday I did 40 reps over the course of an hour each day! (But I can admit I slacked on them later in the week.)
I have toyed with the idea of adding weight, but haven’t tried it yet. I also will probably need to get gloves, because my hands hurt a lot after all those reps this week. I’m still working on figuring this out too.
Hope this helps!! Keep at it and let me know how your progress goes.
In know I said back in January my goal was to get 10 perfect (full-range) chinups. Well I’ve passed that a couple times at the gym on particularly strong days (my record is 14) but I can get 10 pretty much any day now. So I’m proof that it works! Back in December I was stuck at about 6. Proof is in the pudding, so to speak: