611 6 Week Pull Up Progressions

                                   CF611-Pullups2            

611 6 Week Pull Up Progression

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of the 6 Weeks of Pull-Up accessory work, we would be doing ourselves a disservice by not looking at a few facts. As CrossFitters and Functional Fitness Athletes we seem to have milestones that we want to achieve. The most elusive of which is probably the Muscle-Up. Even though this may be the “I just want to be able to do one MU” dream for some of us, we need to think about physics and biology. While the kip and hip thrust can be a very powerful and effective movement, our upper body needs to be able to support the weight we are trying to toss up over the bar or onto the rings.

Building this base of upper body strength is not only a method of progression to achieve these more advanced movements, but it’s also essential knowledge for any athlete to know how to prevent injury. For most of us, injury prevention is not just something the physical therapist talks to us about but it should be a way of life. If we get injured, we are out of commission for fitness right? It depends; if we ignore the lesson to be learned and don’t take the time to build up to our advanced movements we run the risk of being injured again. We should take these steps in order to increase the longevity of our fitness journey, which will allow us to live a more abundant life as we age.

So enough of the why, let’s talk about the what! We have, at the least, two concepts we need to consider when we talk about Pull-Ups, which is the base of the Muscle-Up. Many will argue (usually not the coach) that you don’t need a strict pull-up in order to jump into kipping and butterfly Pull-Ups. While you may physically be able to jump right into butterflies and stringing kipping Pull-Ups together in a WOD, this doesn’t mean you are free and clear of tearing any number of things in your shoulder, arm, back or chest. It is important to take the time, in my opinion, to string 3-5 strict Pull-Ups before going into the kip.

Another thing of note as we get closer to discussing the details of the 6 Week Program is weight to strength ratio. I can tell you that I am 210lbs and even though I can Shoulder Press the same amount of weight as the guy standing next to me, this does not translate well because the guy next to me only weighs 150lbs. So even though we are both lifting 150lb barbell over our head, he is lifting his body-weight, I’m not even close. Also think about doing a Pull-Up with a weight vest on, even if it’s only a 15lb vest, this could easily make the difference between getting 5 strict Pull-Ups and not being able to get half way up the bar with the added weight. So as we work on these progressions, consider cutting some of those extra inches  that you would like to get rid of anyway. CrossFit Invictus suggests that guys should try to be below 18% bodyfat and ladies should strive for less than 25% bodyfat in order to maximize your success with any body weight exercise.

So now that we have knowledge portion of this program out of the way, let’s discuss our Six Week Progression. We have proven methods with a phase for each level of athlete. We will break down each phase requirement and ultimately you can start with phase one and progress the entire way through phase 5 which will incorporate butterfly chest-to-bar Pull-Ups. The intent is to build you up with a proper base and add onto your existing ability.

 

The KEY:

  1. Stick with the plan. Consistency is king here.
  2. Take care of those hands. Ripped hands will keep you from being consistent. Shave your calluses or use a stone in the shower. Also, the more chalk you use, the more likely you are to rip from friction. A “VERY” light dusting goes a long way.
  3. Warm up. Cold muscles during any workout is like having cold tires during a motorcycle race.

 

This is a progression modified from Chris Stroud’s pull up progression for CrossFit (www.chrsistroud.net – Chris Stroud is a CrossFit Trainer at CrossFit One World in Union City, CA).

 

Phase 1

Current Ability: 0 strict pull ups

Goal: 1 strict pull up

Objective: Strengthening muscles involved in completing a pull up. Primarily the lats, biceps, rhomboids, and various muscles in the shoulder.*

Do at least 3-4 workouts a week.

Move to Phase 2 once you can complete 3 strict pull ups in 1 minute.

Weeks 1/3/5:

Day 1

3 sets of 5 jumping negatives. Jump up to position with chin over the bar and SLOWLY lower to full extension. Step back on box and repeat.

Day 2

5 sets of 15 second active hang on bar, then 5 challenging ring rows. Hold 2 count at the top.

Day 3

3 sets of 5 vertical hanging ring rows. If you are able to do more than 5 reps, then scale up to 3 sets of 8-10 reps. A vertical ring row consists of arms and back hanging straight down from the rings with palms facing out. Pull up with heels “dragging” the floor. If you struggle to get 5 reps in this position, step back until 5 reps can be completed.

Day 4

8 Struggle Ups Struggle Downs. Begin hanging on the bar. Pull yourself up by activating your lats and shoulders as much as you possibly can. Struggle for 5 seconds. At that point, step on a box to do a jumping pull up. Once chin has cleared the bar, perform a slow negative pull up. Slowly lower yourself to full extension. Attempt to do so for a 10 count (10 second lower).

Day 5-7

If you have time, motivation, etc. to perform pull up practice and exercise more than 4 days a week, perform 5 sets of 3 challenging reps on days between.

 

Weeks 2/4/6

Day 1

3 sets of 5 jumping negatives. Jump up to position with chin over the bar and SLOWLY lower to full extension. Step back on box and repeat.

Day 2

Accumulate 25 challenging ring rows. If you can string together 10 or more, they are not challenging enough. Make them more challenging by moving your body more parallel with the floor.

Day 3

3 sets of 5 vertical hanging ring rows. If you are able to do more than 5 reps, then scale up to 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

Day 4

3 sets of max hang from pull up bar with 1 minute rest between sets. Cash out: 5 reps 7 second struggle up.

 

Phase 2

Current Ability: 1 strict pull up at any time consistently

Goal: 5 strict pull ups in a row with no kip

Objectives: Every week do more pull ups than the last. Develop a good technique for kipping. Become stronger in the hollow rock position.

Do at least 3-4 workouts a week.

Move to Phase 3 when you can do 3 sets of 5 strict pull ups in 3 minutes.

Weeks 1/3/5

Day 1

5 minute EMOM 2-5 strict pull ups (increase up to 5 strict pull ups per minute)

Day 2

Tabata kipping rocks (4 minutes, 20 sec work, 10 seconds rest). Try to stay consistent within rounds. If you can perform a solid kipping pullup, do these instead.

Day 3

Tabata hollow rocks/hollow hold. Then accumulate 30 challenging ring rows. Have body as parallel to ground as possible.

Day 4

As many strict pull ups as possible in 4 minutes.

Day 5-7

Focus on kipping form and kipping practice

 

Weeks 2/4/6

Day 1

Same as week 1 (lengthen EMOM by 2 minutes each week)

Day 2

Same as week 1 (increase amount of pull ups per tabata round)

Day 3

5 sets of 2 negative pull ups. Pull up until chin passes over bar, then lower yourself down on a 10 count if possible.

Day 4

4 sets of 10 challenging ring rows, followed by 45 second hollow hold (increase for week 4).

 

Phase 3

Current Ability: set of 5 strict pull ups at any time consistently

Goal: Men – 10 strict and 20 kipping pull ups in a row, Women – 7 strict and 15 kipping pull ups in a row

*Phase 3 challenge – both men/women able to string together a few butterflys

Objectives: Develop stamina for higher reps

Do at least 3-4 workouts a week.

Weeks 1/3/5

Day 1

5 minute EMOM 2-5 strict pull ups (each week add 2 minutes to EMOM)

Day 2

3 sets max rep kipping or butterfly pull ups with 2 minutes rest between sets

Day 3

4 sets max strict pull ups. Rest 2 minutes between sets

Day 4

As many kipping/butterfly pull ups in 5 minutes

 

Weeks 2/4/6

Day 1

20 kipping/butterfly pull ups as fast as possible in least amount of sets as possible.

Day 2

Accumulate 40 challenging (parallel body) ring rows (add 10 more for week 4) 1 minute hollow hold each time you break

Day 3

Same as week 1 (try to beat score)

Day 4

5 sets of 5 negative pull ups. Do a strict pull up, then lower yourself down on a 10 count if possible

Day 5-7

If you have time and energy, do butterfly work and practice.

 

Phase 4

Current Ability: Men – 10 strict and 20 kipping pull ups unbroken. Women – 7 strict and 15 kipping pull ups unbroken. Both men/women able to string together a few butterfly pull ups.

Goal: Men – 40 butterfly pull ups. Women – 30 butterfly pull ups

Objectives: Build pull up capacity.

Do at least 3-4 workouts per week

Weeks 1/3/5

Day 1

4 minute EMOM of 20 seconds unbroken kipping/butterfly pull ups (if you are proficient at butterfly by this time, you should be shooting for 18-22 reps for at least the first set) – increase EMOM to 6 minutes in week 3.

Day 2

3 sets of 5 weighted strict pull ups. Rest 2 minutes between sets. (increase #2.5-5 in week 3)

Day 3

60 pull ups as fast as possible (increase to 75 in week 3).

Day 4

Tabata hollow rock/hold, 5 minutes butterfly work

 

Weeks 2/4/6

Day 1

Same as week 1 (increase to 5 minute EMOM)

Day 2

Accumulate 50 ring rows (increase to 60 in week 4). 1 minute hollow hold any time you break.

Day 3

Same as Week 1 Day 2 (increase weight if possible)

Day 4

5 sets of 10 negative pull ups. Do a strict pull up and lower yourself down on a 10 count if possible.

Day 5-7

If you have time and energy, do extra core and butterfly work.

 

Phase 5

Current Ability: Men – 40 unbroken butterfly pull ups. Women – 30 unbroken butterfly pull ups.

Goal: Men – 100 pull ups in under 4 minutes. Women – 100 pull ups in under 5 minutes.

Objectives: Capacity, volume, efficiency, and consistency

Do at least 3-4 workouts per week.

Weeks 1/3/5

Day 1

Tabata kipping/butterfly chest to bar pull ups. Count lowest score. Try to increase each week.

Day 2

5 sets of 5 weighted strict pull ups. Rest 2 minutes between sets. Increase #2.5-5 per week.

Day 3

5 sets of max unbroken pull ups (do not go over 20 pull ups per set – the goal is 5 sets of 20 pull ups unbroken). Rest 1 minute between sets.

Day 4

Accumulate 75 challenging (parallel body) ring rows. 1 minute hollow hold any time you break.

 

Weeks 2/4/6

Day 1

Same as week 1

Day 2

Same as week 1

Day 3

5 sets of 10 negative pull ups. Do a strict pull up, then lower yourself down on a 10 count.

Day 4

100 kipping/butterfly pull ups for time.

Day 5-7

If you have the time and energy, perform extra core and butterfly/kipping work.