Ditch the Band & Get Your First Pullup

Ditch the Band & Get Your First Pullup
Written by: Coach Slater

Raise your hand if one of your 2016 Goals is to get a strict pullup, or 5 unbroken strict pullups, or some variation like that. Cool. Now put your hand down. You’re at work. Stop being weird.

If 2016 is the year to get your first pullup, then we’d like you to ditch banded pullups and stick to the jumping pullup. For a long time, we’ve been okay with everyone using bands for pullups, but while that gives you the momentary ability to perform pullups, it doesn’t actually help you build the strength necessary to perform one unassisted.

To perform a solid pullup, you need to be able to firmly retract your shoulder blades, then bend your arm and pull your elbows down, before finally pulling your elbows behind your back. Bands are giving you too much help at the bottom of the movement, so you never learn to set your shoulders; therefore, you never get strong enough to do an unassisted pullup.

The jumping pullup can assist with your strength gains, if you do them well. First, fully jump to the top of the bar, then execute a controlled, hollow-body negative back to the start position. Make sure that this negative is controlled though. If you’re just falling back to the earth and yanking on your shoulder joint, then you’re doing more harm than good. Luckily, your body is much stronger eccentrically than concentrically, so it’s easier to lower yourself from the bar than it is to pull yourself to it. As you jump to the bar, remember to keep your shoulder blades together and down, tucked into your back pocket. No shrugging, like seen below.


In addition to replacing banded pullups with jumping pullups in your WOD, we’d also like to recommend a 5 week progression plan to get your first pullup. If you already have a couple pullups and are shooting for 5, 10 or whatever, then you’d increase the reps below. Ask us about a recommended rep scheme. Either way, perform these movements before class while you’re freshest.

Week 1
Monday: 3 x 3. Meaning: 3 sets of 3 “reps”: brief dead hang, then jumping pullup with a brief hold at the top, with a controlled negative (straight legs, toes pointed, abs/quads/glutes squeezed tight). Rest as needed between sets.
Wednesday: 2 x 3
Friday: 4 x 3

Week 2
Monday: 3 x 4
Wednesday: 2 x 4
Friday: 4 x 4

Week 3
Monday: 4 x 4
Wednesday: 3 x 4
Friday: 5 x 4

Week 4 (back-off week)
Monday: 7 x 2
Wednesday: 5 x 2
Friday: 10 x 2

Week 5
Warm up and test your pullup!

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