View Full Version : Helping someone with upper body strength

Kevin Perry
11-24-2008, 10:09 PM
I need some help here...

Training partner has pretty much 0 upper body strength... Can't do a pullup or pull herself up towards the bar even when assisted. She can do some kneeling pushups and a couple regular pushups thats about it. She is not overweight nor does she have a high bf%... too skinny IMO honestly.

I am helping her progress on her pushups but Im not sure what to do with increasing her upper body strength for the pullups. There is no graviton machine and I do not want her doing jumping pullups.

I was thinking of using rows off a bar she cold pull herself up to but not sure if this will transfer well? I need advice and critique please...

In other news... I've been teaching her to squat for the past couple of weeks and she is progressing very well and getting much better and deeper and OMG stronger.. holy crap to think that my poor squating form would actually work on someone... what a surprise.

Steven Low
11-24-2008, 10:23 PM
Why don't you want her doing jumping pullups?

Rows are a good idea.. pullup negatives. Rows can be scaled if you have a pair of rings depending how high they are off the ground. You can also use this progression for muscle ups.

You don't have any bands?

What are her goals? Something CF/fitness related?

Kevin Perry
11-24-2008, 10:31 PM
She can't hold herself up on a bar well so im afriad her grip may give out if she tries jumping pullups. Bands are ones i've also considered.

Goal wise she wants to be stronger and have more overall strength. I've done some heavily scaled CF type workouts with her and she seemed to enjoy those, she just lacks overall strength and im trying to address that. Unfortunately I only have so much time to do it.

Steven Low
11-24-2008, 10:33 PM
I would definitely do 1-2 exercises of strength with her before any of the [scaled] metcons that you're gonna do. Basically, hybridize it in some way since obviously she probably wouldn't enjoy something like SS... but get some strength in and then do the metcons or whatnot. That'll probably be the quickest way.

Kevin Perry
11-24-2008, 10:41 PM
yea thats what im thinking. The scaled stuff I worked with her on were more with medicine balls and done outside.. not true cf but metabolic in nature and not at a high intensity.

Garrett Smith
11-25-2008, 05:12 AM
Horizontal/body rows do transfer surprisingly well to pull-ups, I can testify to that myself.

Susie Rosenberg
11-25-2008, 06:06 AM
Before my neurologic condition intervened, I'd gotten real close to good pullups using the bands. Jumping pullups and negatives for someone with no strength can be easy to overdo, IMO. You wind up with overuse injuries real quick. Harder to do with the full ROM of a band pullup. You get tired too quick to overdo! I really liked my Woody Bands, progressed rapidly from heavy to lightest.


Philip Stablein
11-25-2008, 06:31 AM
Horizontal/body rows do transfer surprisingly well to pull-ups, I can testify to that myself.

I was just reading on Jim Bathurst's site about how he likes 1-arm bent dumbbell rows to build strength for people who cannot do a pull-up. Functional? Nope! But easily scalable and seemingly a good path toward the pull-up.

Mike ODonnell
11-25-2008, 08:13 AM
+1 for inverted/angled body rows using a smith machine bar, rings, straps...or whatever else you can find.

Kevin Perry
11-25-2008, 10:59 AM
I used inverted body rows on the smith machine. She handled them very well and liked them quite a bit.

Steven Low
11-25-2008, 11:43 AM
Good. Tell her that and possibly handstands are the only good thing the smith machine is good for. :p

Mike ODonnell
11-25-2008, 01:42 PM
Good. Tell her that and possibly handstands are the only good thing the smith machine is good for. :p

also can do angled pushups....moving the bar down as they progress. I'd take that over kneeling pushups as a strength move any day. If you want to be a pain in their ass.....just push against their back while they are doing it....that increases the difficulty level quite nicely.

Craig Brown
11-25-2008, 01:56 PM
The Smith machine is really a great device for rows and pushups! With the pad left on it from somebody's monster squat session it's a great foot rest...for working up into handstand pushups. Sweet beast, the Smith machine.

Dave Van Skike
11-25-2008, 03:23 PM
Pullups and handstand pushup progressions are nice......

here's something that I've worked with some women on...

bent rows, from the floor a little sloppy.

bench, strict, medium grip.

overhead press, push press, push jerk........

you can build a fair amount of upper body strength in a progressive manner using a barbell.