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View Full Version : Taking Shaf from 6 to 20 pullups in 6 weeks


James Evans
03-27-2007, 06:49 AM
This is a spin off from Shaf's 'Write me a program' thread and an up front big sorry if it's flogging a dead horse.

It was suggested improving from 6 to 20 pull ups in 6 weeks was a perfectly attainable goal. I'd like to know how you would train him for this.

Mike Boyle has an 8 week chin up progression that takes you from 1 chin to 5 chins in, er, 8 weeks. 14 pull ups for a trained, or even a detrained strength athlete in 6 weeks seems a lot.

Yes, I know, someone asks about pullups over at CrossFit every bloody day, I'm just interested because I thought Shaf's thread tailed off pretty quickly.

Mike ODonnell
03-27-2007, 08:25 AM
I think 6 weeks is pretty long.....diet someone down (lose a little weight)...and have them do chinups of some variation everyday....jumping....GTG 1-3reps....weighted.....and that is an easily attainable goal in probably a month. Call me an optimist.....

Rick Deckart
03-27-2007, 08:50 AM
I said from 6 to 15 is perfectly doable, although I didn't know his BW then. But just out of academic interest and assuming he would loose some weight during the time-span this how I would try to get there:

17 sessions (certainly not the best program, but for higher reps it works extremely well...):

1. 13 reps x 3 sets ; deloaded with a strong band attached to the bar
2. 13 reps x 5 sets ; deloaded with a strong band attached to the bar
3. 13 reps x 8 sets ; deloaded with a strong band attached to the bar
4. 13 reps x 11 sets ; deloaded with a strong band attached to the bar
5. 13 reps x 13 sets ; deloaded with a strong band attached to the bar
6. 12 reps x 5 sets ; deloaded with an average band attached to the bar
7. 12 reps x 8 sets ; deloaded with an average band attached to the bar
8. 12 reps x 10 sets ; deloaded with an average band attached to the bar
9. 12 reps x 12 sets ; deloaded with an average band attached to the bar
10. 11 reps x 5 sets ; deloaded with a small band attached to the bar
11. 11 reps x 8 sets ; deloaded with a small band attached to the bar
12. 11 reps x 11 sets ; deloaded with a small band attached to the bar
13. 10 reps x 5 sets
14. 10 reps x 10 sets
15. 9 reps x 9 sets; loaded with 5--7.5kg
16. 8 reps x 8 sets; loaded with 10--15kg
17. 7 reps x 7 sets; loaded with 15--22.5kg

Rest at least a day between sessions and two days after every minicycle. All pullups in strict fashion, no kipping. (Kipping pullups IMO wouldn't need six weeks...) I would very probably use a second excercise, supersetted with the pullups, say KB swings, same reps and sets or higher reps and same number of sets, say for example session 1--5: 16kg KB x 20 reps x 3--13 sets, session 6--9: 24kg x 18 reps x 5--12 sets, session 10--12: 32kg KB x 16 reps x 5--11 sets. After that drop the KB swings to get some sort of volume taper.

I will do something similar this autumn to try to get my sots press to a BW sotspress and btw also achieve an one arm chinup, although I may fail misserably... If the above template is not sufficient, wait at least a week, better more, and repeat with 20--25% more load but same template (although doing the full cycle again could bring him probably to 20--25 strict pullups).

I would bet money for donats, that is 20 bucks against one donat, that he could do 15 strict pullups after that routine and it would take a little less than six weeks. The whole thing is not my invention but it works extremely well in my experience (but I have to admit that I used it only for OHS so far, but with excellent results). And I would be curious to see if other people could get similar results with the template. While not difficult it is extremely monotonous and boring and you can't cope with much else...

Steve Shafley
03-27-2007, 09:47 AM
Sweet topic.

I'll be back on Saturday. I have to go to Chicago to inspect my new nephew.

Allen Yeh
03-27-2007, 10:04 AM
Sweet topic.

I'll be back on Saturday. I have to go to Chicago to inspect my new nephew.

Spartan style?

(refers to 300...so if you haven't seen the movie..just disregard!)

Pierre Auge
03-27-2007, 10:31 AM
Steve,
yes I think it is pretty easily attainable with some effort!

Mike ODonnell
03-27-2007, 10:33 AM
Solution...time, 5 minutes

Lower the bar.

Pavel Saenz
03-28-2007, 07:57 AM
Peter what is the resting time between sets in your recommended program?
Thanks

James Evans
03-28-2007, 09:20 AM
Peter,

You did indeed say 15, at first. Dave mentioned 20 then thought more about the time frame. But you did later say 15-20.

And these are dead hangs. No kipping allowed. Because I say so.

I like your idea though. Do you reckon that is more efficient than:

1. 10 x 4
2. 10 x 5
3. 10 x 6
etc.

type progressions where you are just gradually increasing reps?

I was mulling this over in my head and using the comparison of achieving 20 reps in the press at a given weight when my current score was 5. Would I just lift the same weight again and again increasing the reps (hopefully) each time or would I decrease the load and build up? Probably the latter.

So if I wanted to press 60kg 20 times, I might do something like this

1. 45k x 20 x 3
2. 46k x 20 x 3
3. 47k x 20 x 3


But then I thought about press ups and there I would probably just increase reps from day to day. I really wouldn't make this too scientific at all.

MOD mentions GTG which might probably work well for Shaf. Rubbish for someone who works in a bank or office etc. and doesn't have all day access to a pull up bar. Every time he logs onto a forum he has to bang out some pullups.

Rick Deckart
03-28-2007, 10:06 AM
Damn it, I forgot the latter post. Did I really say so? Well I know that I could do that in six weeks, but I am not at 6 reps in the pullups...

James,

I have tinkered with these derivates of the German Volume Protocol in the past and one session of the template above is a German Volume template (session 14: 10 reps x 10 sets with bodyweight). If I had to choose between your and my template I would choose mine (which really isn't mine) because a) I know it worked for me beyond my expectations (pathetic phrase but it's true) and b) because it is a lot more volume than your approach. And I am now a very very strong believer in volume based training. Not the answer for everything, not suited for everyone ,not applicable everytime, but extremely powerfull if applied with care. With you approach I would expect to hit a plateau VERY soon, unless you wave the reps somewhat but that is additional time you have to calculate into the program.

I intend to do my little program around autum, while I will use bands, I will use these to load the pullups. And I won't use KB swings but sotspresses as a second excercise in this template. I will report whatever the outcome of the experiment. AFAIK I am the only person I know of who finished the program (with the exception of John Bott through whom I first heard of it)

But do you believe Shaf would actually do one of those programs? I think he wouldn't use mine even if I paid him to do so LOL. It is that boring, GVT is nothing against it. Also I remember he once stated that he had very high doubts that such an approach could produce results like the results I reported.

So here is plan B for Shaf, very easy to include into your daily routine:
Do 2-3 sets of 20 pullups with plenty rest inbetween, use a strong band or any suitable combination of bands to deload the pullup. Do that daily, after one week switch to the next lower band and so forth. End of week six test pullups without bands.

Pavel, I used 90 seconds between sets, sometimes one min after the OHS I did and two minutes after the KB swings. But if one would need more time, no problem just rest longer.

James Evans
03-28-2007, 10:17 AM
Peter,

I shall digest that as I run home from work tonight.

The plan I suggest is purely theoretical by the way and stripped down to the most uncomplicated level. I would expect a linear approach like that to stagnate pretty quickly. The aim was to have a comparison against your proposed scheme.

One of the main reasons behind my question is to get people to suggest ideas that they actually know work because either they have done them or they have seen someone else do them. I could read a book and tell you how to deadlift 1000lbs, easy.

So your answer works for me.

Dave Van Skike
03-28-2007, 02:27 PM
The only thing that got my pull-ups up, (no kippage) was the classic grease the groove. sets of 3 to 5 then 5-to 8 throughout the day everyday. Got to 18 in about two months. no sweat. Quit doing them daily and now a year later, I'm good for maybe sets of 5 at a shot.

-Ross Hunt
03-28-2007, 05:59 PM
11. 11 reps x 8 sets ; deloaded with a small band attached to the bar
12. 11 reps x 11 sets ; deloaded with a small band attached to the bar
13. 10 reps x 5 sets
14. 10 reps x 10 sets
15. 9 reps x 9 sets; loaded with 5--7.5kg
16. 8 reps x 8 sets; loaded with 10--15kg
17. 7 reps x 7 sets; loaded with 15--22.5kg



Peter,

JMO, but the leap from session 12 to session 13 and the weighted progression looks pretty tough. I can already do 15-20 chins whenever I want to, but 10x10 would be a tough workout for me, and I'm not sure I could pull off 7x7 with a 45-pound plate.

Of course, I'm really detrained with regard to chins right now, so maybe it's just that my volume tolerance for the exercise sucks.

------------

I'm obviously no Ben Gimball (best strict chins: 22@175, best kipping: 28@175-185), but one thing that seems to work for me when I can make myself spend the time on it is holding the top position for time. The way I did this was to hold bodyweight for time until I hit a minute, and then add weight and work on 30-second holds. I got up to ~45 seconds w/ a 45-pound plate, and that took me from 20 to 22 chins without a whole lot of volume in the actual exercise. I also did some one-arm holds, but this is dicey unless you're very light.

You might plug this in to an overall schedule as a way of training one aspect of the chin while resting the groove of the whole movement; the hold at the top carries over farther than isos usually do, down to about biceps parallel to the ground.

-Ross Hunt
03-28-2007, 05:59 PM
But if you email me privately I'll give you the REAL scoop...

James Evans
03-29-2007, 02:13 AM
Hi Guys!Bxx Gxxxx has agreed to help me with increasing my max number of pull ups in a single set.I did this as he asked me to do so before he would send me his "special high secret program".
Well this was a week ago and I have not seen anything yet and I doubt it I ever will.
Just wanted to tell you I think he is a liar and has no special or whatever he wants to call it program.
I think this site is great.
Keep up the good work guys

etc.

Ross, that made me laugh. I've always wondered but does the message board automatically change Ben Gimball to Bxx Gxxxxx or does Lynne have to do it?

James Evans
03-29-2007, 02:13 AM
Dave,

How did GTG fit into your daily schedule?

Pavel Saenz
03-29-2007, 06:20 AM
Peter, one more question, do you think the program with the same reps and sets would apply for going from 20 to 30? or would there have to be adjustments?
Good thread by the way guys!

Rick Deckart
03-29-2007, 09:33 AM
Ross, look at the total volume Shaf would have managed after session 12: That's 1204 chinups in twelve sessions and if we roughly estimate the average load of the reps (guesswork) at 100kg that is over 120 tons. In twelve sessions. That is probably more pullup volume than Shaf did in the last year(s). Compare that to a GVT approach, reps and volume. I know of no other rep/set scheme which allows to accumulate comparable numbers so easily because every set is easy and no rep close to failure if you choose appropriate loadings.

So I would say he would probably do just fine in session 13 and 14 but if its to steep, use a miniband during these sessions. The loading in session 15,16 and 17 is just guesswork. I would probably have him test his 3 rep max (three chinups with 5kgk, rest 3 minutes, three chinups with 10kg etc) and use that for session 16 and adjust session 15 and 17 accordingly.

I would agree with you observation about lock offs but I think the critical point in the chinup is the transition around 90 degree. If you ask somebody who has only a 10 rep max to do chinups from the top to 90 degree, up and down he will usually knock off a lot more chins... I would set up the bands in such a way that they would offer only little support on the top.

Pavel I don't know but would guess that there are better templates available if you can already do 20 reps...

Dave Van Skike
03-29-2007, 09:53 AM
I have a chin up board over the door to my kitchen. I would usually 2 to 3 sets of easy reps in the AM, 2-3 sets at teh gym around noon. In teh evening around dinner and after maybe 4-5 sets total.

Method a climbing friend suggestede was to pick a set number of reps soemthing more than 50 and just make sure you get all 50 in by the end of teh day. This sometimes meant doing 8 or more sets before bed. Each week you add 10 to the daily total.

week 1 50 per day
week 2 60 per day
week 3 70.......

James Evans
03-29-2007, 10:05 AM
I've heard that method mooted before.

I'd end up squeezing 47 reps in between 9.30pm and 11pm every night which would defeat the object somewhat.

On a side note to this there was a documentary over here about 15+ year ago on some kids joining the Royal Marines. I think part of the entry test for Officer candidates is 12 straight pull ups.

This one lad had worked very, very hard on his ...... chin ups.

So he can do 12 chin ups consecutively, perfectly, off a bar but he can't do 12 pull ups consecutively off a beam which was the requirement of the test.

He failed and was told that in future he should read instructions.

Harsh but totally fair.

I'm pretty good at chins, pretty poor at pull ups

Rick Deckart
03-29-2007, 10:40 AM
GTG never worked for me for a longer time, same with Intensivstretching (same principle only for stretching) at some point I skipped sessions and then not to much later the whole thing collapsed.

Fair enough with that Kid but harsh.

I remember that Dan John in one of the Get Up! volumes stated, that he worked up to 20 pullups (or was it chinups?) but maybe I got that wrong. Perhaps he could state how he did it, please Dan?

BTW simply change chin-up to pullup in my posts above, I am too lazy to edit the posts. I throw these terms together often probably because my numbers are not that far apart...

-Ross Hunt
03-29-2007, 04:36 PM
I would agree with you observation about lock offs but I think the critical point in the chinup is the transition around 90 degree. If you ask somebody who has only a 10 rep max to do chinups from the top to 90 degree, up and down he will usually knock off a lot more chins... I would set up the bands in such a way that they would offer only little support on the top.

Pavel I don't know but would guess that there are better templates available if you can already do 20 reps...

That's persuasive.

It's probably worth emphasizing that training volume doesn't equal gains when you're talking about endurance (doing 20 singles over the course of twenty minutes is less conducive to progress than knocking off two sets of ten), but of course your program addresses the need for training in a high rep range... sound good.

BTW, I should have mentioned that lockoffs seem to be a lot easier to do w/ chins than w/ pull-ups, and their carryover is specific to your grip, so there might be a limit to how useful my advice is in that regard.

Steve Shafley
03-30-2007, 08:26 PM
The mind is willing but the body may not be.

Overuse injuries are the bane of the really high volume routine.

Pierre Auge
03-30-2007, 08:45 PM
Steve,
do you have a set of rings?

First things first lets avoid any overuse injuries which tend to occur as a result of training a fixed grip. Both a pronated or suppinated grip will place undue stress on the tendons and with any kind of volume are likely to cause said injuries as you suggest. The way out is a neutral grip.

Do not confuse a hammer grip with a neutral grip it is not. A neutral grip places the hands at approximately 45 degree angle facing inward from the frontal plane. The two best options for this are rings or an old easy curl bar.

I'd post some pics but my stupid camera is being repaired! Gay!

Almost everyone who comes in here with elbow tendonitis can do pain free pull-ups on the rings once I show them this. It also removes some stress from the rotator cuff but that is a seperate discussion.

I know you have a swiss ball or a bosu hinden somewhere around there now I suggest you setup you pull-up station at a height that you can place your heels of the ball out in front of you.

I know you can do a few pull-ups, but let me tell you something, I want you to limit the amount of bodyweight pull-ups you do for a while. The point is to perform some very low intensity motor learning (practice) from a position that you can do quite a few repetitions. Let's say 25. But they have to be a fairly easy 25. The following week you will increase the resistance (decrease leverage) as appropriate. I figure it should take you about 9 weeks until you can leverage yourself against nothing and pull a larger number of pull-ups at full bodyweight.

I only want you mixing in bodyweight pull-ups every other day during this affair if you care to try it...

Hell if your game we could make this muscle-ups!

Steve Shafley
03-31-2007, 06:58 AM
Rings are really my next purchase for my gym.

Not only will I play with them, but my daughter loves to swing on them in her gymnastics class. I've been meaning to pick them up for over 6 months now, but haven't gotten around to it.

Any suggestions for the "brand"? I'd prefer not to wait in some kind of queue for Tyler's rings. I was leaning towards the Torque Athletic rings, but now PCI has some as well.

Mark Fenner
03-31-2007, 09:09 AM
Hi folks,

I like the idea, mathematics, and symmetry behind Ethan Reeves "Density" approach to rep related goals. Here's one post on it (scroll down on the linked page):

http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=596042

The idea is this. Fix a rest interval, say 1 minute. Double your number of reps that you want to do. Say I want to get 20 chins. My number is 40 chins. Then, simply start with doubles and do as many sets as necessary to get to the modified rep goal (40). Here, I'd start out with 20x2. When that was "doable" or "moderately easy" ... I'd move to triples. Since 3 doesn't "go into" 40 evenly, I'll use 42 instead. So, now I do 14x3. And so forth:

20 of 2
14 of 3 (42)
10 of 4
8 of 5
7 of 6 (42)
6 of 7 (42)
5 of 8
4 of 10

I think 10 reps, 1 min rest, 10 reps, 1 min rest, 10 reps, 1 min rest, 10 reps will get you really darn close to 20 reps. I can't tell you for certain, b/c I've only played around with this ... though since I rolled my foot (OUCH!), I'm moving to an upper body specialization program and I'm using this progression for chins and dips (with the goal being a muscle-up). If 4 of 10 doesn't do it for you, you could step to 3 of 14.

I'll probably do this twice a week (advancing when the current progression is tolerable) with a third day of heavier stuff thrown in ... 3x3, 5x5, 8x3 or so. Just to keep working on the limit strength as well.

Regards,
Mark

Dave Van Skike
03-31-2007, 10:13 AM
Was waiting for that one. I have used the Reeve density style as well. Nice addition.

David Wood
03-31-2007, 04:59 PM
Rings are really my next purchase for my gym.

Any suggestions for the "brand"? I'd prefer not to wait in some kind of queue for Tyler's rings.

My understanding is that Tyler has no wait anymore . . . shipping within one week. I'd buy from him just on the general principle that no one else would ever have done it if not for him . . . the others are selling to a market that he created.

Derek Simonds
03-31-2007, 06:32 PM
Pierre I would love to see your progression towards a muscle up. I went to the opening of Crossfit Evolution in Longwood today and they had a harness to assist with muscle ups. I of course jumped right on and with a mere 60 lb's of assist voila, muscle up. I am pretty sure that I could do it with less. I didn't try as I am pretty banged up from BJJ this week and really trying to make Saturday and Sunday rest days.

I like your progressive resistance approach and recommended that to my wife for pull ups.

How would you use the same technique to attain a muscle up? I have some ideas but would love to hear it from you.

Sorry for the possible thread hijack.

Rick Deckart
04-02-2007, 10:29 AM
So to summarize the outcome so far:

Taking Shaf from 6 to 20 pullups in 6 weeks is not possible.

Steve, yes volume based training can lead to overuse injuries, so great care has to be taken to chose the correct loadings, to vary the grips position etc. but whom do I tell that... All in all I far prefer volume over intensity based training. Both have there place, both work, both have shortcomings, but I once did some agressive waveloading to up my weighted pullups (got to an easy triple with 45kg) which gave me major problems with my right elbow...

What do you think of plan B (more or less identical to Pierres high rep idea). You do have a power rack and strong bands, correct? You should try to slip one strong band over the two safety bars. I would start around hip heights, stand on the band and try to do pullups. To increase the load you could simply lower the safety bars say every week. How many pullups can you do with the assistance of a strong band which is attached to the rack in the described manner?

Steve Shafley
04-02-2007, 10:45 AM
I'll check next time I train. I sliced a chunk of my finger using a rotary cutter, so now everytime I grab something moderately heavy, it starts to bleed. WAH!

I like volume. There's a lot to be said for it. My unrevised article about volume and the "black box" is still waiting for me to revise it.

Overall, there is a lot of interesting discussion here, and in the "make me a workout" thread. I restart PIerre's plan today, so, maybe I'll do some chins before.