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The classic pull-up is still a lot more effective and useful for most people than a set of lats pull-downs, and can help to give you that strong upper body you are looking for. You can easily find the right exercise plan that incorporates pull-ups, whether you are an expert wanting to increase the number you do, or a beginner who can barely handle one of them.
Improve Your Pull-Ups
Goal: To do a pull-up.
Begin with iso-eccentric pull-ups. Grab hold of a bar and then pull yourself up so that your chest is touching the bar, and either hold the position for five seconds or lower yourself down again, taking five seconds to do it. If you are unable to do a pull-up, keep working at this until you are able to comfortably perform ten reps; this way you will have the ability and strength to do one regular pull-up.
Goal: To do more pull-ups.
If your goal is to do more pull-ups, make a note of your personal record and perform five sets of half your personal record next time you do pull-ups. Add one rep to each set the following week, and then revert to half of your personal best number with a five pound weighted belt, in the third week. If you continue to add on reps this way, your chart will look like this:
- WEEK 1 — 4×1/2 PR
- WEEK 2 — 4×1/2 PR + 1 rep
- WEEK 3 — 4×1/2 PR with 5lbs (2.26Kgs)
- WEEK 4 — 4×1/2 PR + 1 rep with 5 lbs
- WEEK 5 — 4×1/2 PR with 10 lbs
- WEEK 6 — 4×1/2 PR + 1 rep with 10 lbs
- WEEK 7 — 4×1/2 PR with 15 lbs
- WEEK 8 — 4×1/2 PR + 1 rep with 15 lbs
- WEEK 9 — Retest your max
To add more weight to your pull-ups.
If your goal is to add more weight to your pull-ups, you need to determine the load that allows you to do only five pull-ups with good form, and then add that amount to your bodyweight ideally with a dip belt. Each week you are working out, you should aim to perform as many reps as possible while working up to a heavier weight. The tried and tested method would be to start with a warm up set of the maximum amount you can manage WITHOUT any added weight and to then begin with the weighted pull ups.
With repetition and proper form you should see a vast difference in 3 weeks using these techniques.