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Rise Above The Rest With The Ultimate Pull-Up Workout

Pull-ups challenge your back like no other movement, but a few disparate sets won't transform your lats. Instead, try to survive this super-intense pull-up workout.

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.

The Pull-Up Beat Down ///

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.

33 The Hard Way ///

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.

Chin-A-Thon ///

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.

Pull-Up Panic

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Video Variations ///

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.

Rocky Pull-Up

Watch The Video - 0:29




Clap Pull-Up

Watch The Video - 0:42




Chin-Up

Watch The Video - 0:13




Medium-Grip Pull-Up

Watch The Video - 0:08




Wide-Grip Pull-Up

Watch The Video - 0:08





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About The Author

Cory Gregory co-founded MusclePharm. As Executive Vice President of Business Development, Gregory works closely with all of the world-class athletes.

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AJacks92

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AJacks92

Yeah, but can you muscle up? You sacrificed reps for form on your clapping pull ups. Clapping does not activate any other muscles, therefore making it unnecessary. You're better off holding the top contracted position.

Nov 2, 2012 4:12pm | report
MusclepharmPres

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MusclepharmPres

AJ first of all I was just having fun at my gym messing around with the clap ones. Secondly of course I can do muscle ups there big time. Thanks for the comment and your opinion but I been at this awhile brother.

Nov 2, 2012 6:01pm | report
SovereignMuscle

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SovereignMuscle

Do u even lift?

Nov 2, 2012 6:13pm | report
Longbow16

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Longbow16

To get to that clap on the top, his concentric (the pulling up) has to be really powerful or else he wouldn't have been able to clap in the air, that in itself is a show of power training. He did his best on the Eccentric (the lowering down). That is something to be acknowledged of and its hard and fun when you can do it.

Nov 2, 2012 8:13pm | report
akaNASA

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akaNASA

i suppose it depends on what your goals are. if your looking to work on focus and coordination these would have huge payoffs...

Nov 2, 2012 8:25pm | report
grandroid828

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grandroid828

@musclepharmpres i totally get the whole having fun thing and all and its deff good to mix things up to keep from feeling stale and whatnot. but i do have to agree with aj on the fact of their really not necessary at all. i mean yeah i getcha, you were more or less playing around. but then you produce an article kinda recommending them and kids/beginners will start to think that these are something you should really aim for or focus on, rather than just telling them to work on quality contraction, MM connection, and controlled negatives on the variety of standard pullups and chins. just my two cents.

Nov 2, 2012 9:53pm | report
dumbxassx

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dumbxassx

Everyone knocking on the idea of the a clap pull up is getting a little annoying,and for the most part ignorant. As most of you workout enthusiast know there are many different types of muscles fibers. some react better to explosive movements hints the explosiveness of the clap pullup and pushups?..and the some to time under tension hints the idea of a long squezze and slow negative. In my opinion the idea of clap pullups is very inteligent and infact an exercise that alot of people should incorporate to stimulate new muslce growth in your lats..its all about shocking the body knew movements new ways to do the same workouts youve been doing for years..people that think doing three warmup sets of 10 reps of wide grip pullups every back and bi day is going to get you further then variations in your pullups seems alittle ignorant.. i for one know and have proven to my self varrying pullup grips and techniques will improve your wide grip over time because you will hit knew secondary and and smaller less developed parts of your back aswell thus making your back stronger overtime leading to a more developed and overall stronger back.. same goes for all types of exercises..when you plateau its time for change..ITS ALL ABOUT CHALLENGING YOUR SELF... BREAK THE NORM !!!!

Nov 3, 2012 5:45pm | report
dreambig1993

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dreambig1993

Until you can do as many or more of the clapping pull ups then I don't really see a point in talking crap about it.. just sayin

Nov 3, 2012 7:53pm | report
jwethall

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jwethall

If my buttcheeks clap at peak contraction does that count?

Nov 3, 2012 11:16pm | report
csknifer

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csknifer

I came in here about to reply at the ignorant comment by AJacks92.. but you beat me to it dumbxassx! Well said brother.

Nov 4, 2012 6:12am | report
TRazor

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TRazor

fully agree with... dumbxassx ... You need to generate a lot of muscular power to perform a clapping pull up. Muscular power is the rate at which work is performed. So power is the application of strength and speed which is key in athletic performances. clapping pull ups are a plyometric for the back muscles... it uses stretch reflex to facilitate recruitment of motor units, It's no different than performing box jumps in attempt to to improve leg strength, speed, or power.

Nov 5, 2012 1:20pm | report
AJacks92

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AJacks92

@MusclepharmPres Well if it's just for fun, then very well then.
@SovereignMuscle Yeah. Do you Mr. No Picture?
@Longbow16 I get it. But so do Muscle Ups.
@grandroid828 Haha thank you for agreeing.
@dumbxassx Well that's good. Breaking plateaus. I get it. But that's not why MusclepharmPres said. He did them just to have fun; therefore, your idea on breaking plateaus isn't even worth contributing.
@dreambig1993 I have no intentions of even doing them, because I know of exercises that tailor my needs and my goals. Thank you.
@TRazor Look at my comment to @dumbxassx.

Nov 5, 2012 2:06pm | report
chrometapdancer

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chrometapdancer

@AJacks92 The clap pullups shows great strength and is beneficial to learn. That muscle memory that eventually grows from this kind of movement (catching weight, especially your own) Will make your body learn how to work together on every exercise translating to more power, strength, stamina, reps, and of course superficial muscles if that's what you're looking for.

Dec 12, 2012 8:05pm | report
Elronbomquist

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Elronbomquist

clapping sucks

Mar 6, 2013 3:46am | report
ZRH1001

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ZRH1001

Cory, good piece like always. MPNation.. If you havent tried it you dont know what you are missing out. Best results hands down by MP workouts as well as product lines.. The science is there and the proof is in the results.

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Nov 2, 2012 6:05pm | report
MusclepharmPres

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MusclepharmPres

Thanks bud I really enjoy doing these and hearing from #MPnation!!

Nov 2, 2012 6:10pm | report
BenjaminVP

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BenjaminVP

Looking at Cory's back, I would say he can clap if he wants. Where "bodybuilding" is concerned the clap might not be optimal, but I think it's an interesting movement for not only fun, but a sense of flexibility and functional strength. Definitely gonna try this out on my next back day. Whoot!

Nov 2, 2012 6:07pm | report
MusclepharmPres

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MusclepharmPres

Benjamin thanks for the feedback !

Nov 2, 2012 6:14pm | report
ZRH1001

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ZRH1001

Dont forget to that eccentrics or negatives are huge helpers in trainning. As a physical therapist asst. I use eccentric muscle loading on building strength in all aspects of training.. ( I rehab/train all levels of athletes from HS, college, and pro levels)

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Nov 2, 2012 6:08pm | report
MusclepharmPres

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MusclepharmPres

Agreed I also do the Rep Hold and 28 method on pull-ups also both articles that have been featured on here too.

Nov 2, 2012 6:15pm | report
ZRH1001

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ZRH1001

What other Company Pres do you see commenting back to the consumer?! Not often #MPNation does it right!

Nov 2, 2012 6:21pm | report
MusclepharmPres

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MusclepharmPres

thx man!

Nov 2, 2012 6:26pm | report
RunninKurt

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RunninKurt

Haha, I was about to tease on the bandwagon dude wearing all MP stuff... till I realized who it was.

Thanks for the motivation Cory. Pull ups are my bane, and I need to keep at them.

Nov 5, 2012 12:36pm | report
Darw92

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Darw92

I always manage 10 - 12 on my first set which would drop to 6 - 10 on the second and by my fourth set I am only doing about 5 or 6 reps. I find pull-ups really difficult and my strength decreases quickly

Nov 2, 2012 6:47pm | report
Triskelion

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Triskelion

I've been stagnant at around 17-18 pullups. I was at a whopping zero 3 years ago but I've been in between 15-18 for the past month or two. I mostly train for athletics so I don't really want to dedicate a full day for pullups but do you think adding in different grips would help?

Also, should I alter my rest periods so I rest less or more?
I normally do 4 sets of chin-ups or pullups taking a minute 15 seconds in between. Would doing a similar rest period/maybe add a few more sets of different grips help?

Great article man, love your products and the facebook musclepharm workouts!

Nov 2, 2012 7:47pm | report
Showing 1 - 25 of 81 Comments

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