Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

Day 47 - Pullup Question

I started doing pullups 2 years ago with a doorway pull bar. After 1.5 rounds my numbers went way up with short stroke pulls as I was too tall for the bar. I switched to a permanent bar bolted above the doorway. I am 6'2" and I have to reach to grab the bar so each rep is from a full hang. My numbers went down as expected as i did full range pulls. Over a few rounds with the higher bar the numbers came back up but many times I would toe tap between reps. Now I'm trying to eliminate or at least reduce the toe tapping between reps. I try and push 10-12 reps, then a very quick toe touch to reposition my hands and another 4-6 reps, with another quick toe touch, 2-4 more. When I get wasted I then will do a toe touch to hammer out 2-3 more to reach my goal. How should pulls be done, and is there a standard that says pull reps should be continuous, no touching throughout?

If anything, I would RECOMMEND a foot touch on the floor between reps, that ensures that you are getting full range of motion. My pullup bar is mounted to my basement ceiling so it is right about the perfect height for me now.

I will fully admit that I used to cheat with my pullups and only come down about 80% of the way to the floor, but now I force myself to get a toe tap on each rep to get full range of motion. Sure, my reps dropped initially as well, but they will climb again as you get stronger.

I would say a quick rest between reps is fine, as long as you remember a few things:

1 - Don't spend any more than maybe about 1/2-1 second on the ground between each rep. You may have 1 mid-set break that may last a few seconds, but try and keep somewhat of a consistent pace.

2 - Even when you touch the floor and take a quick rest, try and keep your hands on the bar and your arms/lats engaged. They don't need to be fully flexed, but not relaxing either. This increases what is known as your 'time under tension', keeping the muscle fibers engaged. By keeping your muscles under tension, you create a situation where they have a better chance for muscular growth (size and strength). 

3 - Try and keep your concentric (upward movement) and eccentric (downward movement) motion as fluid as possible. When knowing that your feet are coming down to contact the floor, the tendency is to let yourself 'fall' from the bar, rather than lowering yourself. Remember that the downward motion, and therefore controlling your body while lowering it, is just as important as the upward motion.

I also recommend keeping 'kipping' to a minimum as well. Kipping is when you use other movements with your body to propel your momentum and body weight off the ground, helping you get your chin over the pullup bar.

The problem I have with kipping is that it not only removes a lot of the force needed to complete an actual pullup, but every has different body mechanics, including kipping, so not everyone is going to kip the same way. Because of this, some individuals may end up creating muscular imbalances due to improper form that can lead to injury down the road.

Unfortunately, some other 'organizations' promote kipping, for reasons I will not understand...

Quote of the day:
"Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor."
~Truman Capote