How to build pull up strength:
The pull-up is a foundational movement for the fitness athlete and is often underestimated in its importance. Requiring back, core, and shoulder strength, this movement is fantastic for any client or athlete.
The major problem with the pull-up is that many people struggle to build the foundation of a sound pull-up or set themselves up with appropriate progressions for long term development of pull-up strength.
From a health perspective, all too often these athletes lack the shoulder strength and stability to control the descent of the pull-up.
The typical answer we see with pull-up deficits is to do band assisted pullups.
But if you seriously think about banded pullups, count how many people make the transition from banded pullups to unassisted pullups….its pretty low.
Because the band provides maximum assistance in the bottom of position, never allowing athletes to develop enough strength in that range.
So what is the answer? How do we get from assisted to unassisted strict pullups? Lets take a look at 3 exercises that can replace the band-assisted pull-up.
First, to develop strength and control in the bottom position, you will need to start with active hanging. You should grasp the bar with both hands while hanging and then repeatedly pull down on the bar with the elbows remaining straight. This control will translate greatly to decreased soft tissue stress during advanced pull-up variations such as the kipping pull-up.
Toe Assisted Pull-ups
Rather than band assisted pull-ups, the toe assisted allows to max loading throughout the full range, so you only gives as much assistance as you need to complete the rep. Try performing this by standing on a box high enough that your chin is above the bar. Then your knees are pushed forward and you lower into a squat-like position until the arms are full extended. Then pull the elbows down to return to the starting position.
The third drill we will use are eccentric pull-ups where the you jump up so that your chin is above the bar. Hold the top position for three seconds, lower for three seconds, hold the bottom for three seconds, and then jump back up and repeat. This will work the negative piece of the movement.
Here is a sample Plan:
Week one start with 5 toe assisted pull-ups with one minute rest between reps.
Progress to five double by the end of the week.
Week two build up to 5×3, week three 5×4, week five 5×5.
Alternate Daily between also performing active holds or eccentric pull-ups.