If you are currently reading this article, then you should be able to do at least five flawless pull-ups in a row before reading ahead. However, if you are still unable to complete five pull-ups in a row then check the following article that guides you how to go from zero to five pull-ups. As always, let’s get started with the progressions.
Progressions #1: Regular Bodyweight Pull-Ups
In this progression, do three sets of your maximum amount of pull-ups in each one. When you start doing three maximal sets of pull-ups, you might succeed 5 reps, 4 reps and then 3 reps initially. Over time, your total volume will get better as you get stronger and your body becomes more efficient at doing pull-ups. Move to progression #2, when you can do a total volume of 30 pull-ups in your three sets (e.x. 12 reps, 10 reps, 8 reps).
In the following section below choose either of the options 2A or 2B and follow that progression consistently until you master it. It does not matter if you choose progression 2A or 2B. the most important thing is to be as consistent as you possibly can!
2A: Greasing the Groove technique
The key to Greasing the Groove is doing pull-ups almost every day (I recommend anywhere from three to five days a week) for an effective and rapid increase in the number of your maximum repetitions in a short period of time. With this technique, you should practice pull-ups as often as possible and when you are as fresh as possible. The more you practice pull-ups, the more efficient your nervous system will be, the more you will develop your strength and get better at pull-ups. You should work at anywhere from 40 – 80% of your maximum intensity. For example, if you can do a maximum of ten consecutive pull-ups, start doing four pull-ups (40%) at least five times per day. The following week you should strive to increase the number of pull-ups you do in each set throughout the day by one repetition. Keep doing so until you reach 80% of your (in our example it is eight repetitions) of your maximum intensity in each time you are doing pull-ups in the day. Keep in mind that you should still perform pull-ups at least five times a day, in order for the Grease the Groove to be effective. The following week, take a period of three days rest and then retest your new maximum. After a couple of weeks of applying Greasing the Groove correctly, you should see a significant improvement in your maximal number of pull-ups.
2B: Harder Variations of Pull-Pps
Incorporating harder variations of pull-ups into your workouts will not only make you significantly stronger but will also increase your maximal number of pull-ups. After you have progressed from doing regular bodyweight pull-ups (see progression #1), you can work on the side to side pull-ups to add challenge and variety to your workouts. When you start out, you will probably be able to do about three (it may be two or four) pull-ups on each side (which equates to a total of six repetitions). Once you master the difficult side-to-side pull-ups variation by doing at least three sets of six repetitions per side, you should be able to do at least twenty regular bodyweight pull-ups. Once you have mastered the side-to-side pull-ups, I encourage you to take your training to the next level and master the one-armed pull-up as well!
Overall, there are multiple ways out there you can apply to your own training plan to increase your maximal pull-ups number. Start by mastering progression #1, which is performing a total of at least 30 pull-ups in three sets. Then choose either the technique of Greasing the Groove (2A) or performing harder variations of pull-ups (2B). As always, be consistent with your training and you will get achieve the feat of doing twenty consecutive bodyweight pull-ups! It should take you in total anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months. If the goal of reaching twenty pull-ups in a row is truly important to you, you should do whatever it takes until you reach it.
To improve your pull-ups count, we highly recommend you to invest in a high quality pull up bar for your home. It will help you stay motivated and be more consistent with pull-ups, which is a super important key.