One of the hidden keys to improving your pull-ups


Pull-ups are a fantastic exercise to build strength throughout the entire upper body. This one exercise, as I've said many times before, is more than worth it's weight in gold, but is sadly ignored by the majority of people these days - believe it or not, 90+% of folks today cannot do a single pull-up in good form. And out of those that DO them - you'll find that the enthusiasm for sticking to the exercise quickly tapers off as they learn how hard the exercise is, and consequently struggle to progress. Not good.

And today, I'm going to share with you one tip that will help you improve your pull-up performance, or get past a "sticking point" (if you are at one) on this exercise. This tip works for all levels; it will help you if you cannot do a single pull-ups, and it will help you do more if you can currently bang off 10 in a row.

And this tip is NOT what most people would think about doing - in fact, most folks will likely not believe me when I mention it. It is NOT doing more pull-ups. It is NOT working on the grip - though that helps as well. And it is NOT doing lat pull downs - or lifting weights - none of that.

So, what IS it then Mookerjee, you might ask? What the heck is this mysterious secret that will help me improve on pull-ups? Well, its not a secret at all - at least not to me it ain't. And it is - doing PUSHUPS.

That's right - doing pushups - all sorts of pushups - WILL help your pull-ups. There are some kinds of pushups that lend themselves better to pull-up performance than others, but rest assured that pushups in general will help you do that first pull-up - or do more if your stuck at a certain number.

And the reasons behind this is that pushups, contrary to what most folks think, build ALL the muscles used in pull-ups, specifically and most importantly, the grip, forearms, shoulders, entire back, and biceps as well - yes, biceps as well.

When I say this, most people stare at me as if I were plum darn nuts. I mean, GRIP strength from pushups? Everyone knows that's not possible! Shoulders and upper back? Well, dem pushups are EASY, how can they build strength beyond a certain point? And - the most common remark of them all - Rahul, your off your rocker - how the (insert expletive of choice) can pushups work the biceps of all things?

Well - my answer to that is they DO. And I'll give you one simple example of how they do - place your palm flat on the floor as if you were about to a pushup, and PUSH down with all your might. Do this for 30 seconds. As you do so, feel your forearms with the other hand - as well as your shoulder. At the end of that 30 seconds, feel them again - and then tell me whether or not these muscles got worked? And this is just a SIMPLE - extremely simple - example - now, substitute a regular pushup in - do you still believe the forearms and shoulders aren't heavily taxed?

I'll bet you say they are - and we haven't even moved on to the back as yet. I could give you numerous examples of what I've said, and you'd agree, but I'll condense it into one simple RESULT - a result that I've personally achieved, and that I think you'll agree proves what I'm saying.

A few months ago, I noticed I was stuck at 5 reps of a certain type of pull-up. I did my pull-ups three times a week, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get past that fifth rep. I'd do them in sets, slowly, fast, but however I did them - 5 was the sticking point for me.

And then one day, I remembered some old literature I'd read a long, long time back about how boxers and wrestlers trained. And though these magnificent athletes could bang out pull-ups like no-one's business - guess what - they did NOT train pull-ups as a mainstay of their routine. They did pushups in high volumes - and they did them daily - and THAT was one of the keys to their perfomance in pull-ups.

They did other things as well - but the importance of the pushups in their routines can't be stressed enough. Find me a serious boxer that doesn't bang out hundreds, if not thousands of pushups on a daily basis, and I'll eat my best hat right now.

And so, I went back to doing pushups on a regular basis - something which I had been doing anyway - but had slowed down on thinking I'd improve my pull-ups first. I did them in high reps daily, and I did this for two weeks - during which I did not do a single pull-up or chin-up. At the end of those two weeks, I tested myself on pull-ups again.

And guess what? The pull-ups actually felt EASIER than before - and I moved way past my sticking point of 5. And this WITHOUT doing any pull-ups for the last two weeks!

STILL don't believe me? Well, for those of you that are currently spending hours trying to bang out that first pull-up, do this. Do NOT do any pull-ups for the next two weeks - but concentrate on banging out 100 pushups daily in letter perfect form. Don't dwadle while doing these; make sure you bang them out as fast as you can - but - and this is IMPORTANT - maintain correct form while doing so (never compromise on form for speed). Do regular pushups, or any type of pushup you prefer - there are many different combinations of pushups you can do - see Fast and Furious Fitness for more on this. 

And at the end of the those two weeks (or however long it takes you to get 100 pushups in a row), try your pull-ups again - I'll bet you'll be surprised.

This ONE tip is so valuable that I could probably devote an entire chapter to it in Fast and Furious Fitness. And if you are looking for more great tips on improving your pull-ups, and general levels of fitness, then grab a copy of the book pronto.

So for those of you that find pull-ups to be tough - or even if you've been doing them a while - give this a try, and let me know how it works!

Best regards,