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How to increase pullup reps

Victor Abeledo
December 27th, 2020 · 1 min read

The most common approach to increase the number of reps of a given exercise is to perform some sets of it in a short period of time (AKA going to the gym for ~1 hour).

This way of increasing reps has some perks for pull-ups:

  • If you try to reach muscular failure each time you perform pullups, it can cause injuries in muscles or ligaments
  • It can cause muscular fatigue
  • Performing an exercise with bad technique can lead to injuries

How to get better at it

We will use the Grease The Groove approach to increase pullups.

With Grease the groove you are consistently practicing a physical exercise. The more you practice, the more of a pathway forms between your muscles and your nervous system.

Instead of practicing the exercise in a short period of time, you are doing 1 or two series with low reps spread across the day.

With Grease the groove you are:

  • Focusing on quality over quantity
  • Putting more volume in reps than if you just exercised at the gym
  • It complements your fitness routine instead of interfering it

Example of Greasing the groove

Let’s say that you can do 6 pull-ups with good technique in a row, and you want to increase the number of them.

You should pick a number of reps that is challenging but that doesn’t compromise your pull-up form. So you’re doing 3 pullups on each Grease the Groove training session, spread across the day.

Your schedule for that day could be:

  • 6:00 am wake up
  • 6:10 am perform 3 pullups
  • 6:30 am breakfast
  • 7:00 am perform 3 pullups
  • 8:00 am go to work
  • 5:00 pm come back home
  • 5:10 pm 3 more pullups
  • 6:00 pm another 3
  • 8:00 pm 3 reps
  • 10:00 pm last 3 before going to bed

That day you’d have performed 18 reps total. You can repeat it from Monday to Saturday. 108 pullups in one week!

After 2 weeks of greasing the groove, you can test your max reps. If you now can do 7 of them, you can start performing 4 pullups in every set.

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