Can You Pull Yourself Up?

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The pull-up is a basic back exercise (beside the deadlift, of course). True, it is f’ckin hard to do it right: after all, you have to pull up your fat ass, preferably in a slow and controlled manner.

If you only weigh 50 or 60 kilos, it is not that tough. But once your bodyweight reaches or exceeds 100 kilos, it starts to get real “fun”, especially if you cannot do one single rep on that damn pull-up bar.

Sure, there is always a solution. The only question is: Are you ready for working damn hard?

There are various trendy rubber band solutions nowadays, for making exercises harder or, in this case, easier. These may work. However, unless you work out at home or in a low-equipped gym, you will find an assisted dip/chin machine, which allows you to set the load as you need it.

And that’s when it starts to get real difficult. Leave your ego behind and focus on what you are doing and how you are doing it. Set the weight so that you can do 8-10 reps in a strict form, keeping your arms beside your trunk throughout the whole move and without tilting backwards. Moreover, if you are tilting slightly forward, your back will be forced to work even more.

Do 3x8 reps for the first time, with the appropriate counterweight, and keep this weight until you can go up to 4x12 reps.

Now here comes a little trick. Always increase load in the last set for the first time. For example, if you are doing 4x8, try 9 reps in the last set, after doing 3x8. Did you make it? Great! The next time, if you feel you can make is easily, try to do 9 in the last two sets and so on.

After a short (or long) time, you can do 4x12. Then, lower the counterweight so that you can barely do 3x8, and start over a whole new cycle.

I don’t want to fool you: it will be hard work. It may take about 6 months or even a whole year until you only need a counterweight of 10 to 20 kilos. At that point it won’t feel like the machine is of any help.

And here comes what you’ve been waiting for: you will be able to pull yourself up easily and, what’s more, in a strict form! You can make 3x5-8. From then on, you can develop further as you did so far. You can continue with this strategy as long as you want.

If you are persistent and stick to the strict form, your development will be slow and painful, but definitely worth it. You will never be like those fools who make themselves a laughing stock in the gym with their weird pull-up techniques. What’s more, you will build up the back you’ve always wanted, paired with real strength.

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