Man struggling doing pull ups and man doing pull ups easily

No matter if you want to learn your first pull up or Increase your pull up performance in general. The following 8 weeks pull up challenge is ideal to get started or break through a plateau. To make this challenge optimal for your individual needs it’s necessary to adapt the pull up progressions to your level. If you are not able to do more than 3 pull ups you can work with the beginner progression.

Pull up challenge: Beginner progression

Band assisted pull ups

Man doing band assisted pull ups during a 8 week pull up challenge

The band simply takes off a part of the weight you have to move and makes it way easier to pull yourself up. The band simply makes it easier by taking off a part of the weight you have to pull up. The stronger the band the more it supports you during the pull up.

Feet assisted pull ups

Man doing feet assisted pull ups during a 8 week pull up challenge

Here you need a low pull up bar or some rings. Always make sure that your body stays in a nearly vertical line and don’t lean yourself backwards like in a bodyrow. This progression is a good option if you got no bands. But please keep in mind that it’s hard to measure your progress with it. In contrast to the band you can never be sure how much you support yourself. On one day you could use your legs more and on the other day less. In addition you should always focus on pulling your elbows backwards. Imagine that your feet only rest on the ground and that you use your upper body to pull yourself up.

Negative pull ups

Man doing negative pull ups

The negative part of the pull up is easier than the positive one so you will be able to do more negative pull ups as regular ones. The downside about negative pull ups is that you’ll need more time to recover, because eccentric movements lead to greater muscle damage. Of course this effect gets less significant the stronger you get. Once you are able to do more than 3 regular Pull Ups, eccentrics alone are not that effective anymore. They are only senseful and improve your pull up performance if your body is not able to do one or a couple of pull ups. 

REMEMBER:  you  don’t have to stick to one of those for the entire 8 weeks pull up challenge. It’s possible to do band assisted pull ups in one session and switch to negatives in the next one.

Pull ups challenge: Advanced progression

If you are already able to do a lot of pull ups you could do all workouts of this 8 weeks pull up challenge with additional weight. Here you can use a weight belt or weight vests. Of course it’s also possible to work with your bodyweight only and try to improve your pull up performance without additional weight.

Choose your grip

  • Man doing underhang grip
  • Man doing overhand grip
  • Man doing neutral grip

It’s possible to use the overhand, underhand or a neutral grip.  If you change the grip from workout to workout or stick to a certain one is up to you.

  • The underhand grip involves the biceps the most
  • The overhead grip has a strong focus on your brachioradialis 
  • And the neutral grip is a good all rounder

Another option when it comes to the grip are rings. here you can rotate the rings during the pull up and choose the most comfortable position for your elbows and shoulders. The effect for your back is nearly the same in all those variations, so don’t worry too much about the grip in the first place.

Start your workout

Workout schedule for a 8 week pull ups challenge

All right now it’s time to start the 8 weeks pull up challenge. For the following weeks you switch between 3 different Pull Up Workouts. How many days a week you should do the challenge depends on your level and experience. For all Beginners we suggest to do 3 sessions a week while more advanced people could train up to 4 or 5 days. Please keep in mind: More does not always mean better!  This challenge only works if you give your body enough time to recover. So if you’re constantly sore and tired your progress will be limited. 

Workout A

Workout schedule with reps for 2 pull ups workouts

Now let’s take a look on Workout A. Here you have to achieve a certain amount of repetitions.  Just Multiply your current max rep with 5. So if you are able to do 5 reps you do 25 in total. If you are able to do 10 reps you do 50. The goal is to reach this amount of Pull Ups as quick as possible without reaching failure too quickly. The complete workout looks like this:

Start your set and do a couple of reps until it gets hard, but leave a few reps in the tank. After that you rest until you are able to do a couple more reps. Repeat this procedure until you reach the total amount of repetitions. Depending on your goal and level you can use the progressions and variations from the beginning of the video. Here are a few examples how you could do that. 

Person A can only do a couple or even not a single pull up. In this case you choose one of the beginner progressions shown before, like the band assisted Pull Up. Choose a band that allows you do to about 4-8 reps in a row. This range is good to increase your strength and support your goal to be able to do your first pull ups. Of course you could do the same with negative or feet assisted pull ups.

Person B can currently do 10 reps and wants to be able to do 15 or even 20 in a row. In this case Person B doesn’t need to change the progression and can stick to bodyweight only. If you don’t know your current progression and max reps, we suggest to do a test 2 days before you start with the challenge.

Workout B

  • Man doing pull ups during a 8 week pull up challenge
  • Man doing band assisted pull ups with indication of the execution time

Here you simply do 5 sets of Paused Pull Ups . You add a 2 sec. pause at 90° elbow position and a 2 sec. pause at the top. Then let yourself down normally and repeat. We suggest a progression that allows you to do about 3-8 paused pull ups with 2-3 minutes rest in between the sets. If you aren’t able to do regular paused pull ups use a band, do negatives or feet assisted ones. 

Schedule for a 8 week pull up challenge showing sets and reps

As in Workout A you should not go all out in the first sets but rather save some energy to be able to do the same amount of reps in every set. Let’s say you are able to do 6 reps. If you now go all out in the first set your performance will drop significantly in the following sets. If you only do 4 reps you will be able to reduce this drop in performance tremendously, or even maintain the amount of reps done in each set.

The training volume is nearly the same in both examples, but version 2 is superior in this program because it allows you to recover faster for the next workout. The goal is to do the same amount of reps in every set so that it’s not getting hard in the first, but in the last set! 

Workout C

Man ready to start a pull up

Here you do a  Pull Up Pyramid. So you start with 1 Pull Up – rest – do 2 Pull Ups – rest – Do 3 Pull Ups – rest and so on. The higher the amount of reps the more rest you need in between them. Remember the goal is to reach as many reps as possible so it’s totally fine if you rest about 4 minutes when you reach the top of the pyramid. You should also know that there are 2 ways to do the pyramid. You can go up and down again or you can only go up the pyramid.

Here is an example of how it can work. If you are more like person A and train in a lower rep range it makes more sense to go the pyramid up and down. Otherwise the total volume would be too little. So you go up until you can’t complete the next step and then start going down again after the rest. If you completed 4 reps and aren’t able to do the step with 5 reps, you rest and continue with 4, 3, 2  and 1 rep in the following sets. If you are more like person B it would be better if you just climb the pyramid up and stop if you aren’t able to complete the next step. 

Now it’s up to you. Follow this challenge for the next 8 weeks and you will see results. If you’re looking for a Full Body Workout Guide you should head over to calimove.com. We offer Step by Step Workout Programs that improve your performance, build muscle and make you more mobile.  Every program is designed as an online course you can do as a beginner but also as an already advanced person. You pick the right program and the right level and you’re ready to go.

Watch the video of our pull up challenge

Enjoy the 8 weeks pull up challenge in action!

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