Exercise How Many Times a Week Should You Train Pull-ups?

“How many times a week should I train pull-ups?”

This is probably the most common question that I get when it comes to improving pull-ups. To answer that question, it is important to answer two other questions first.

  1. How many pull-ups can you currently do?
  2. Do you have a clean form on your pull-ups?

The two questions go hand-in-hand and assuming that the answer to question 2 is yes, then the answer to question 1 will dictate your workout protocol.

In general, through my experience of training and competing in calisthenics, and coaching over 50 clients, I have found that improvements in the field of pull-ups are attributed to pretty much one thing: volume over time. The more volume you get over a period of time (instead 100 pull-ups in one day and then resting 6 days, think 20 pull-ups every day for 7 days), the better your pull-ups will get.

So this is the recommendation that I give to my clients that has helped them improve there pull-ups:

If you workout 5 days a week, 3 of those days should be pull dominant. Since the goal is improving pull-ups, majority of the workouts should be targeted towards that goal.

High volume pull day

Amongst those 3 days, one of the days should be a high volume pull day. The term “high volume” means something different to every individual but it pretty much involves finding a range, roughly 7-10x your 1 set max reps (for example if your 1 set max reps is 10 reps, then your high volume day should be 70-100 reps), and doing that range broken up into multiple sets with rests. It is important to note that this high volume day should be scheduled before AND after rest days. This gives your body sufficient time to rest and recover from the increased intensity.

EMOM (Every Minute On the Minute)

The second pull-ups focused day should still be a high volume day, but more endurance-focused. This means that you will be completing a similar rep range as the first high volume day, but the rep ranges will be much lower (this just means more sets). My favorite way to program these sorts of workouts is the EMOM (Every Minute On the Minute) style of training.

Lastly, the third day should be a lighter day and should incorporate a lot of isometric holds, specifically chin-over-bar, head-under-bar, and deadhangs. Depending on your current level, you may want to superset these with full pull-up reps before and after, but the focus of this day should be to strengthen the weak points throughout your pull-up.

This is typically the protocol that my clients follow when we’re working on improving their pull-ups and it has been very successful in doing so. It’s important to remember that your answer to the first question above will dictate your rep ranges in all your workouts and that rest and recovery are crucial to your progress. Overloading and spamming pullups day after day without a well thought out plan will only lead to injury.

Try out this protocol for yourself, and if you ever have any further questions about pull-ups, anything calisthenics-related, or are interested in 1:1 coaching to hit your fitness goals, DM me @joemirofit on Instagram or Facebook.

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