Tip: Pull-Ups for the Advanced Lifter

If you can crank out pull-ups like a pro already, here's what to do next.


If you can do 12-15 solid pull-ups like it's nothing, here's a simple exercise to add to your arsenal to develop more strength and power.

Eccentric Overload Explosive Pull-Up

Why This Works

The function of this exercise will be different than that of your typical weighted pull-up, which moves relatively slowly on both the eccentric (lowering) and concentric (lifting) portion of the movement.

The eccentric portion of this variation works as a strength-developer by overloading the lengthening phase of the pull-up. This recruits more motor units due to the added weight, which will be of huge benefit to the concentric (shortening) phase of the pull-up. This is essentially "revving up" your nervous system to explosively pull yourself back to the top.

For you science buffs, this is known as "post-activation potentiation" or PAP. Once you drop the dumbbell at the bottom of the pull-up, your body will feel significantly lighter. You can then use the increased motor unit recruitment to explode back up. This makes for an incredibly powerful pull-up.


  • To do the eccentric portion properly, take about three seconds to lower yourself to a dead hang. This increases time under tension and will aid in the motor unit recruitment.
  • After you drop the dumbbell, pause for about a second at the bottom to make sure your shoulders are in the right position. To do this, retract your shoulder blades, squeeze your lats, and tighten your core.
  • During the lifting portion, squeeze the pull-up bar as hard as possible. Think "grip it and rip it" as you pull yourself up with everything you can muster. Do NOT be slow pulling yourself back up.
  • Aim to touch your chest to the bar.

Weight and Rep Recommendations

You don't need to go crazy with the weight. Pick a weight that you could do for a 3-rep pull-up max with good form. If you're swinging back and forth, you're using too much weight.

Aim for 3-5 reps to develop explosive power. Generally speaking, doing more than 5 reps will compromise the speed at which you can pull yourself back to the top of the bar. That defeats the purpose.

Note: Thanks to coach Tyler Ziemer for helping out.

TJ Kuster is a certified athletic trainer (ATC) and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), specializing in mobility and injury prevention. He coaches at Method Sports Performance in Bloomington, IL.