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Increase My Pullups: Strength Training From Zero Reps to 10+ Reps | Personal Trainer Tokyo Titan

The pull up is probably the most effective back exercise you can do. Unfortunately, it's quite a large hurdle being able to do pull ups. Pull ups are a skill and they're a high level skill. Just like riding a bicycle, the first time you hop on a bicycle, you can't expect to ride it. You have to gradually work your way up before you can ride a bicycle with just the two wheels. So today I'm going to share with you three steps. I'm going to show you how you can progress from zero pull ups to more than ten pull ups.

Note: Click the link below for a video on the same conrtent.

Step 1

The first way is doing band assisted pull ups. In order to do a band assisted pull up, you need to loop a training band around a pull up bar, put your knees into the band and do the pull ups. On a regular pull up, you need to resist your entire body weight, but for beginners, this is not possible. The assisted band pull up offsets some of your body weight, which makes it easier to pull yourself up to the bar.

In this example, I use the red band, which is the thinnest band. The thicker the band, the more force that's required to stretch the band, which means that when you pull yourself up and the band returns to its normal shape, it's going to push back with more force. This further offsets your body weight, which makes it even easier to perform pull ups. So when you first start doing band assisted pull ups, you'll be using one of these thicker bands. But as you get stronger and better at doing pull ups and the number of reps you do increases, you can progress along to thinner bands to put more load on your muscles.

Step 2

After assisted pull ups, the next step is eccentric pull ups, or negative pull ups. While holding onto your pull up bar, use a bench or chair to boost yourself up to the top position of a pull up. Then very slowly, lower yourself back down. Mentally, this is quite draining, so you will be tempted to lower your body quickly. But in order for the negative pull up to be effective, the descent needs to be between 3 and 5 seconds. Negative reps is a very common strategy used by professional power lifters.

Right now, because the weight is too heavy, you can't do the concentric part of the exercise. In the pull up, that's the part where you pull yourself up to the bar. But even though that weight’s too heavy on the way up, your body can resist it on the way down. This is a great way to build up more strength in that exercise. Negative reps do take quite a toll on your muscles, so make sure you're only doing it once a week, and also that you're recovering properly between sessions.

Step 3

After a while, having progressed through step 1 and 2, you should have built up your pull up strength. Even if you can only do two or three, that's fine. The next step is to do pull ups, but don't do them to failure. We're going to try and build your pull up strength through improving your muscle strength and also CNS adaption. There are two ways your body gets stronger at an exercise. The first way is by the muscles getting physically stronger. The next way is through CNS adaption.

Exercises are a skill. By doing that skill more often, your brain forms neural pathways, making you better at that skill. So even without getting physically stronger, the more you do that exercise, the stronger you become at it. Also, building muscle strength works better by not going to failure. To build up physical strength, you always want to make sure you have reps in reserve.

Let's talk in practical terms. Let's say you can do three pull ups. Several times a day, go up to a pull up bar and do just one rep. That's it. Don't do more reps. Don't do more sets. Do the one pull up and walk away. By regularly doing just the one pull up and having strength in reserve, your body will slowly start to get better and stronger at pull ups. Eventually getting stronger and stronger, you'll be able to do more pull ups.

For this method of low reps for strength and CNS adaption, you need to keep the reps at about one third of your max reps. So eventually, when you can do six pull ups before fatiguing, you do two pull ups in this adaption routine. When you can do nine before fatiguing, now this number becomes three. And by continuing to progress in this way, eventually you'll be able to do more than ten pull ups.

A bonus tip: if you can do well over ten pull ups before fatiguing and you want to get even stronger at doing pull ups, purchase a dip belt. With a dip belt, you can link the chain through barbell plates or onto a dumbbell, put the belt on and do pull ups with even more resistance.

To pack on muscle and bulk up in a short amount of time, contact Tokyo Titan!

I am Tokyo Titan, an internationally certified bodybuilding specialist trainer and nutritionist who operates a private gym in Omori-nishi, Ota-ku, Tokyo. Utilizing bodybuilding methods, I help clients to create the body they want in a short amount of time. Lessons can also be provided online, giving you full flexibility in scheduling.

I am also a native English speaker who is bilingual in Japanese, and can provide lessons in either English or Japanese. If you want to train your body and your language skills at the same time, then contact me today!


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