Are you improving your weak links? If you're a serious lifter, your weak link probably isn't maximal strength – you train that all the time. But how's your relative strength? You know, how strong are you in relation to your size? The best exercise to measure this is good ol' fashioned pull-ups.
This program is likely to double your pull-up number in 30 days. It's so simple, it's hard to believe it works until you do it yourself. But like Dan John says, "Simple doesn't mean easy."
- Do them every damn day. If you don't have a pull-up bar at home, it's time to buy one. Just don't tell your landlord you're about to wreck his door frame.
- No grinding reps. Don't cheat to get another rep. Keep each set easy by keeping a few reps in the tank.
- Eliminate all other pulling movements from your program over the next 30 days, outside of maybe some light face-pulls or pull-aparts in your warm-up.
- Testing Day: After a warm-up, do one set of pull-ups with perfect form to technical failure. No kipping or awkward motions in an attempt to get another rep. Just stop when you can't do another rep in good form. This is your starting point.
- Day 1: Now that this starting number has been established, the real program begins. Let's say your test number was 10 reps. Today you're going to do 10 reps, but keep them easy by splitting them up. For example, do two sets of 5 reps.
- Day 2: Add one rep. If you started with 10, today you'll do 11. Again, divide these up. Maybe hit 5 reps in the morning, then 6 reps later in the day.
- Day 3 through 30: Add one rep every day! That's it. Now, of course, as your number grows you'll be dividing those into more not-to-failure sets throughout the day. For example, when you're at 24 daily reps, that may be divided into three sets of 8, or even three sets of 7 and then one set of 3. Just keep every set easy.
- After Day 30: Take five days off, then test your max reps again (go to technical failure). You'll be shocked.
All of this looks easy on paper, but you're going to be doing 91 pull-ups over the first week alone (if you started with 10 reps). And after 30 days, you'll have hit 735 reps.
The best way to do this is to just do a handful each time you go through the doorway that the bar is set up in. The entry into your home office works well, or your bedroom, since you're likely to travel that path most frequently.
Vary your grip from set to set, or at least day to day, because you're going to start accumulating a lot of volume quickly and you want to keep your elbows and shoulders from getting banged up. Alternate between palms facing you, a neutral grip, and overhand.
Just fight the urge to go too hard. The devil is in the details on this one, so keep them easy, be consistent, and watch your pull-up number soar in just a month.