Being able to perform 20 consecutive pull ups is a strength goal many people aim for, and others only imagine. Any man (or woman for that matter) that can do 20 pull ups in a row is going to have a very muscular back and arms. You are also guaranteed to be lean and muscular, with relatively low bodyfat (excess fat weighs you down).
20 pull ups might seem like a pipe dream, but its fully within the realm of possibility for any man who trains to be come strong, lean and muscular. That said, you cannot do 20 pull ups if you cannot perform ONE.
Going from Zero to One**
“What is the fastest way to improve pull ups?
Im asked this question in some variation every single week. Along with being asked about how to increase pull ups, there is also the question of how to perform more pushups, how to perform 100 pushups in a row, how to practice pushups, so on and so forth.
if you cannot do pull ups, or can only perform one or two reps, you do not need a special pull up program for beginners, or any unique pull up bar exercises.
The solution to increase pull ups is absurdly simple
-You practice them EVERY DAY-**
The more you practice pull ups the better you will become at them. Pull ups are a skill like anything else. You start with wherever you are at (doing pullups with a band for example), and you practice that as often as possible.
Clarification between Pull ups and Chin ups
For the sake of simplicity, Im going to use the term pull ups in this article as a catch all term. But there are three different versions of the movement
-The traditional pull up, which is done with an overhand grip. These are generally the hardest as they put the most demand on the lats and upper back muscles
-Neutral grip pullups, which are done with the palms facing each other. These are an intermediate between pull ups and chin ups. These are often the easiest version to perform because the place the arms and back in the most biomechanically advantageous position. You can practice these as well
-Chin ups, which are done with an underhand grip. These recruit the biceps and forearms more than the other two versions. Some people find these the easiest version to start with, others find them the most difficult.
Your daily practice should include all three versions, pull ups, chin ups, and neutral grip pull ups. You do not start with one of them, you start with all of them. Alternate between the three each time time you do set,
-wake up in the morning, practice pull ups
-Come home for lunch, do a set of chin ups
-get ready for evening do neutral grip pull ups
You should be equally strong at all three of these, so do not ask which is better or worse. They are equal and you must be able to do them equally to have respectable muscle and strength development.
Daily Pull Up Training Simplified Even Further
I’m going to lay out this process step by step for you, and hopefully answer questions along the way.
1. Purchase a Doorway Pull up Bar
-To begin improving your pull ups, you need a pull up bar. And to practice every day, you need convenience. The Iron Gym Pull Up bar has thousands of 5 star reviews, its less than $25, and it allows you to perform both pull ups (overhand grip), chin ups (underhand grip), and neutral grip pull ups (palms facing).
First things first, you order this bar. Now you’ve eliminated the excuse of “I don’t have a gym membership” or “I don’t have time to go to the gym”.
2. Install the Pull up bar in your bedroom or bathroom
-Whichever of these doorways you walk through the most, that is where you will install the bar. This is not the science of rockets, but if you are confused, there are youtube tutorials demonstrating how to install a doorway pull up bar. Again, no excuses. Put the damn thing in the doorway.
3. Every time you walk through the doorway, you will perform a few reps of pull ups or chin ups.
Y0u will NOT perform reps reps to failure. Instead, you will “Grease the Groove” and perform a few reps below what your maximum is.
Greasing the Groove (ala Pavel Tsatsouline) refers to practicing a movement as a skill, training the inter and intra muscular coordination of the exercises repeatedly. If you are “bad” at pullups, it is not only a lack of muscle, but a lack of coordination. Grease the Groove treats exercises as neurological skills, emphasizing the motor coordination aspect of an exercise. By doing these movements often, and never to failure, you improve the coordination much faster and more rapidly than if you were to perform to failure sets only once or twice a week.
So rather than perform reps to failure, and do sloppy reps, you will practice as close to perfect reps as possible, done with the best technique you can muster. And you will do this multiple times a day.
Hence, you will your coordination of pull ups through multiple sets, and you will build up the muscles that perform pull ups through overall training volume (doing many reps).
4. Perform Jumping Reps and Band Assisted Reps
If you cannot perform even one rep with good technique, then you have two options
-Perform jumping style reps with a controlled negative
You will jump up to the top position, chin over the bar, and then lower your body as slowly as possible. This called controlling the negative/eccentric portion of the rep.
-Perform Band Assisted Reps
This is done by looping an elastic jump stretch band through the bar, placing one foot inside of it, and then performing reps with the assistance of the band. The band will offset some of your bodyweight. Bands come in different resistance levels, and can take off anywhere from 20 up to 100 lbs of weight. I’d suggesting starting with a light red band if you are able to do 1-4 reps of before fatiguing. If you cannot do even one rep, try a black or purple band.
You can use both variations, or one of them. Band assisted reps are excellent if you absolutely cannot pull yourself up under your own power. Jumping reps can work if you can only perform 1-4 reps before burning out. And doing both together can be even more effective. Alternate sets between the two of them for even faster results
5. Practice Every Day
-Hopefully this point is fully obvious. The entire strategy is contingent on you doing pull ups daily, or nearly daily. Do not argue about this point
How Long To Do 20 Pull ups?**
There is no objective answer I can give. Everyone progresses at different rates, and your results are going to depend on your dedication. If you were to Grease the Groove nearly every day for a year in combination with improving your diet and dropping excess fat, I believe you could reasonably going from 1 to 20 pull ups in a single set. If you practice more sporadically, it could take much longer.
Strength is a skill, and how far you take it is upon you.