Want to increase your “pull strength”, lock-off ability, and lunging power by 20%? Here’s how. Commit to performing weighted pull-ups, three times per week, for the next ten weeks. Sound simple? Yes it is, but you need to make a commitment and follow through completely to obtain the results.
First, give yourself a test. Determine how many complete, controlled pull-ups you can do on a pull-up bar or the bucket holds of a fingerboard. Write this number down, then calculate where you’d be with a 20 percent increase–this is your goal.
To achieve this goal we’re going to leverage one of my hypergravity training techniques as detailed in Training For Climbing.
In a nut shell, we are going to simulate hypergravity (greater than gravity’s natural pull) by adding weight to your body while you perform five sets of pull-ups. Ever notice how light your feet feel upon taking off a pair of ski boots or a heavy backpack? We are going to create the same effect with your climbing muscles! The key is to train with an additional 10 to 30 pounds * to trigger your neuromuscular system to adapt to this apparent increase in gravity. Long-term, you’ll develop a new level of pull-up and lock-off strength–on the rock at normal bodyweight, you just might begin to feel like you are climbing on the moon!
Here’s the program. On your normal training and/or climbing days, perform five sets of weighted pull-ups, ideally toward the end of your session when the muscles are well-warmed. For the first four weeks, use a 10-pound* weight belt (best) or a pack loaded with 10-pounds of gear. Do five maximal sets of pull-ups with at least a three minute rest between set. Increase the weight to 20-pounds* for weeks five through eight, then to 30-pounds* for the final two weeks. Upon the completion of this ten-week program, take five days off from training, and then test yourself for the number of pull-ups you can do at bodyweight. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
As a final note, this hypergravity training is not appropriate if you are unable to do 10 consecutive pull-ups. Instead, commit to a similar three-day-per week, ten-week program of pull-ups at bodyweight. The secret to your success is to have a spotter aid you in doing 8 to 10 pull-ups in each of your five sets. Begin each set doing the pull-ups under your own power, but have the spotter grab hold at your hips and help lift you to complete the prescribed 8 to 10 reps. Within ten weeks, you should achieve 8 to 10 pull-ups on your own and feel way stronger on the rock!
* If your bodyweight is less than 150 pounds (68kg), use half the weight prescribed above.
Copyright 2006 Eric J. Hörst. All rights reserved.