How Many Pull-Ups Can You Do?

TJ JTJ J skratta pa klocka
edited February 2013 in Physical Performance
Pull-ups used to cause pain in my left shoulder, so it's an exercise I have always avoided. Now that my joints are not so inflamed I've been attempting more pull-ups. It doesn't cause me any pain but I'm not improving much.


To improve my max I'm going to shift more of a focus to pull-ups when I'm at the gym.


-I am going to work on different styles of pull-ups ie. behind the neck, climbers, sternum, standards, weighted and chin ups.  I'm going to do about 4 sets of 80% max rotating between these exercises. Is that enough?


-Once I find out the style that causes me most difficulty I will focus on that more often, with assistance (chin up machine).


The lowest amount of male pull-ups that still made it to the world record holders website is 37.


The Marine fitness test considers 20-25 perfect score. Today I did 3 sets of 7 standard pull-ups. I'm estimating that my max, if fresh is about 10.  Any tips for improving this number? How many pull-ups should a person be able to do? Is it possible for me to do 20?



  • BrianHKerrBrianHKerr Quantified Biohacker

    You do negatives... slowly lower yourself down from the pull up... over and over... as slowly as possible... someone who cannot do one pull-up trains this way... all muscle growth happens from the negative motion... start there.


    My max is 20 at the moment.  I went up from 5 to 10 in a week and 10-20 in a second week.  Get a pull up bar and do it for fun inbetween whatever the hell you do at home.... exe.  watch tv... every commercial break, do max pull ups.


    A person should be able to do as many pull ups as they deem correct - For me... that # is 20.  For most people... 10 seems to be a good goal.

  • I've always liked weighted pull ups. I can do about 10 normal ones.

  • M. ThomasM. Thomas A Stick of Butter a Day Keeps the Doctor Away.
    edited February 2013

    I learned to do pull ups with a chair in front of me or something similar when I first started.  Now I can do several sets of 20 with no big sweat at my own body weight but I usually do them weighted.


    Something similar to this is what I recommend:



    and before you know it you'll be cranking them out like Hannibal himself:


  • Thanks Jason.  That would be me.  I think I can do about 2 maybe 3 if I grunt a lot.  That's what being 47 and 30-40# overweight will do to ya.


    Going to stay away from the gym for a while and let the BP - IF work.  Was working out daily (cardio w/ some weights) and believe that stalled my lass.  But will probably try your method once I return.


    Do you have a weight or bf in mind where I should resume the gym?  I'm currently 6' and 208#.  My last bf was 28%.  There are a lot of posts out here for and against exercise so it's kind of confusing to me.  I don't need to be ripped, but I never want to get back to the 250# slob I was either.





  • M. ThomasM. Thomas A Stick of Butter a Day Keeps the Doctor Away.
    edited February 2013

    You should check out the book Body by Science if you all you care about is maintaining your health and living a long life.

  • edited February 2013

    I do this as my routine:

    5x Pull Ups

    15x Situps

    10x Push Ups

    20x Squats

    And I set my timer for 20 mins, and do as many sets as I can.

    I'm up to around 8 rounds in the 20. I can do more, but time runs out. I'll be trying to pick up the pace soon.

  • Thanks Jason and Mark.  Good info.

  • TJ JTJ J skratta pa klocka
    edited February 2013

    Today, along with kb swings and my "7 minute marathon training", I did pull-ups like this:


    1-2-3-4-5-6-7(f)-6-5-5-4-4-4-3-3-2-2-2-2-1-1-1-1-1 ... On the final 1-1-1 I did max duration negative let downs. I can already feel delayed onset muscle soreness setting in.


    I am planning to do this again on Sunday evening going up to 8. I've set my goal at 21 pull-ups, fresh.

  • I find that doing curls along with pull-ups leads to rapid gains in reps.


    I’m 33yrs old, 5’9” 190lbs and can do sets of 30 pull-ups.


  • projectearthprojectearth Contributor

    I rockclimb and on the side every other day I do 100 pullups in 25 reps 4 sets. I just got the bulletproof whey protein, how much table spoons do you guys take? The package says 2

    Enjoy the journey

  • edited October 2013

    I can do only 9( For some reason its very hard for me to do pull ups, even though I don't have problems with the most of other exercises. I've read about the muscles used for pull ups and chin ups and I think I just lack technique.

  • When comparing pullups it'd be beneficial to list your weight, as power to weight is a much better indicator of strength. Those skinny 140lb rock climbers can do a ton of pull ups :0


    I would suggest incorporating some sort of overhead press into your routine as well, if properly done it'll help with shoulder issues. Check out starting strength by Mark Rippetoe.


    My max is 14 BW, but I prefer doing them weighted and doing less.

  • StevoStevo Upgrade in Progress

    For someone who can't even do 1 pull up, I'd suggest doing some lat pull downs Body By Science style on a lighter weight to build up strength.

  • StevoStevo Upgrade in Progress

    ^ even better!

  • That's the one I gave you right? That was a while ago, you're sure getting better at it.

    I was getting better at it, but then I moved and stopped exercising for a while. Now I'm doing BBS stuff once every 7 to 12 days.

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