Every muscle group has a gold-standard exercise for strength and growth. These time-tested compound movements form the backbone of any training regimen. When it comes to back training, no exercise can equal the pull-up for effectiveness and versatility.
Despite its usefulness, the same big guys who jump at the chance to get under the bar for a bench press shy at the thought of jumping up to a pull-up bar. Yeah, pull-ups are tough. Sure, you might be bad at them. But everybody has to start somewhere.
I remember being humbled by the chin-up bar when I was 15-years-old. It was 1994. Dustin Meyers (my partner at Old School Gym) and I were in his dad's garage for a back workout. To start the workout, Dustin approached the pull-up bar, took a wide, over-hand grip, and ripped off 25 reps. He only weighed a buck twenty-five, but I was still impressed.
My turn. I jumped up, took a wide grip, and banged out ... one single rep. Impressive, right? My five sets of one that day were not exactly remarkable. Yet instead of shunning the straight bar, I dedicated myself to mastering the pull-up.
If you're like I was in '94, don't exclude pull-ups from your workout. Sets of one rep eventually turn to two, two reps lead to sets of three, and before you know it, 10 or more pull-ups will be within your reach. My personal best is now 37 wide-grip pull ups. I can also do two reps with 100 pounds hanging from my waist and 20 reps with 25 pounds hanging. It's taken a lot of work over the years, but it's led to some wide, thick lats. The next time you train back, head for the bar and go to work. Your lats will thank you.
This insane workout is meant to attack your back from every angle. You hit pull-ups for an entire hour with all types of grips and hand positions. When my boy Dust and I want to attack this workout, we aim for 200 reps and take as little rest as possible. Usually, we rest just 30-60 seconds, or until the other guy is done with his reps.
If you're unable to do more than one or two reps at a time, try using a pull-up machine, a band, or a box for assistance. There's no shame—everybody has a starting point.
Check out the videos below for full pull-up demonstrations. Keep an eye on good form. Feel free to use any of these unique pull-up variations in the workout above.