The Training Plan to Double Your Max Pullups

Man doing pullups in climbing gym
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Pullups are a true BS detector. You either have the strength for a strong set, or you don’t. All men should aim to do at least five pullups, says Joel Martin of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.



The Plan

Test your max pullups at start. Complete each of the 3 workouts below once a week for 4 to 6 weeks, then retest.

Workout 1

1. Weighted Pullup

Use a small (4 to 8 kg/9 to 18 lb) weight attached to a belt. Do 5 sets of 5 reps.

2. Chin-Over-Bar Hold

20–30 seconds on, then rest 1 minute. Repeat twice.

3. Hanging L-sit Hold

20–30 seconds on, then rest 1 minute. Repeat twice.

Workout 2

1. Supinated Grip Chest-to-Bars Pullup

With palms facing in, do 3 sets, going 1 or 2 reps shy of failure. Rest 2 minutes between sets.

2. Toes-to-Bar

With soft knees and legs comfortably straight, do 3 sets of 6 or 10 reps, resting 1 minute between sets. Can be scaled with knees-to-elbows.

3. Suitcase Carry

Using a dumbbell or kettlebell 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 your body weight, walk with weight in right hand for 30 seconds, rest 2 minutes, and switch.

Workout 3

1. Pullup

Do 5 sets of half of your max reps. (So if your max was 6 pullups, do sets of 3 reps). Rest 2 minutes between sets.

2. Single-arm Dumbbell Row

Using a moderate to heavy weight, do 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps on each side. Rest 1 minute between arms.

3. Hollow Body Hold

Hold for 30 to 45 seconds. Repeat twice.

4. Pullup Bar Hang. With arms straight, hang for 45 to 60 seconds, then rest 1 minute. Repeat twice. Can be substituted with 15- to 20-second single-arm hangs.

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