How to Increase Your Pull-Ups (10+ Reps)

This article assumes you can already perform 1 set of around 8-10 pullups. If you’re looking for tips on how to perform your very first pullup check out this article.

For the rest of you, this is how you can finally break your pull-up barrier and break that 10 rep plateau to sets of 15 reps and higher.

1. Prioritize Pull-Ups

Pull-Ups are often an “after thought” exercise. Because it’s a bodyweight exercise that requires no set-up these tend to get thrown in at the very end of a workout.

Problem with this being you’re now going into pull-ups pre-fatigued from whatever your training was for the day. This can be especially troublesome if you just did an entire back workout.

If a pull-up goal is really important to you, set-up your program so that pull-ups come first. This guarantees your grip strength, and back strength won’t be comprised, and you’ll be able to perform to your true capability.

2. Utilize Pull-Up Variations

You don’t have to keep slamming your head into the metaphorical brick wall by only ever doing regular bodyweight pull-ups. Try working in multiple variations into your routine.

My favorite go to for when I’m very serious about my pull-up progress is splitting things up into 3 training days.

Example

Day 1: Heavy Weighted Pull-Ups 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps

Day 2: Bodyweight Pullups 4 sets SUBMAX REPS (Submax= 1 rep before failure)

Day 3: Light Band Assisted Pullups 4 sets of SUBMAX REPS

This variation between my pull-ups allows me to get used to pushing my pullup strength with the weighted sets, getting used to normal pullups with bodyweight pullups, and finally getting used to “supramaximal” sets with light band assistance where I can do more reps than usual. Overall keeping me more well rounded, and as an added bonus keeping training fun by changing things up.

3. Increased Frequency

You’ll notice above that my go to for pull-ups is around 3 training days per week. You can work these in anywhere really, the important thing to note is that increased training frequency.

Once you get passed a certain strength/skill level with your pull-ups training 1-2 times per week isn’t going to do much other than maintain your current progress. You’re going to have to push your body to adapt.

Consider adding in an extra pull-up training day if you really want to speed up the progress of your pull-ups.

4. Dead Hangs

Something that goes overlooked in pullup training is your grip strength is not only going to be a limiting factor in how many pull-ups you can do, but also a mental factor in how hard pull-ups feel overall.

If you grab until a pull-up bar and already feel your hands wanting to give, this is going to make pull-ups feel mentally harder right off the start.

Likewise, if you are starting to get into high rep sets like 15+ reps, you may realize your back strength is hanging on, but your grip strength is causing you to fall off the bar.

To eliminate this problem altogether consider adding some deadhangs into your training. These could be down after your pull-up training or on different days altogether, the point is to build up your grip to the point that it’s no longer a limiting factor for you.

As a bonus that extra grip strength will help you out in basically every other movement in the gym not just your pull-ups.

 

Matt Molloy

Matt Molloy

I'm a graduate the University of Pittsburgh with a major in Exercise Science. I’m a local guy (North Penn) and athletics has dominated my life. I've led teams in basketball, baseball, soccer, golf and my passion, long distance running. I've been strength training for 6 years with a focus in power-lifting but have recently stretched to strongman since joining the pride here at the Den. When I’m not in the gym I enjoy, spending time with my friends, music, and relaxing and playing some video games.