Tip: Don't Add Weight to Your Pull-Ups

So you can do 8 decent pull-ups. Big deal. You're still not ready to do the weighted version. Do these instead.

A lot of lifters are under the impression that once they can do several consecutive pull-ups, they should go ahead and add weight to progress the exercise.

In theory, this makes sense. In practice, however, it's rare that I see anyone at the gym doing weighted pull-ups with a full range of motion and complete control of the exercise. People are all too often in a rush to progress an exercise that they aren't even doing well in the first place.

Instead of adding weight, here's a simple routine you can try that will significantly increase the challenge of the basic pull-up without the need for any additional equipment. As a bonus, this drill will force you to dial in your pull-up technique and quickly expose any weak links in your form.

How to Do It

  1. Pull your chin above the bar and pause at the top for 2 seconds.
  2. Carefully lower yourself until your elbows are bent to 90 degrees and pause for another 2 seconds.
  3. Slowly come down to a full hang, again pausing at the bottom for 2 seconds.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3. Be careful not to bend your knees (bending the knees almost always leads to kipping).

Don't even ask me about weighted pull-ups until you can do 10-plus reps using this cadence.

Al Kavadlo is one of the world’s leading experts in bodyweight strength training and calisthenics. The author of several bestselling books, including Get Strong and Street Workout. He is also known for his appearance in the popular Convict Conditioning book series. Al is currently the lead instructor for the Progressive Calisthenics Certification (PCC), where he brings his unique coaching style to fitness trainers and enthusiasts around the globe. Follow Al Kavadlo on Facebook