How To Do More Pull-Ups and Build a Stronger Back

Want to do more Pull-Ups and build a stronger back? Incorporate eccentric training into your program. Here's how.

Good form and tempo are essential if you want to be able do more than a handful of Pull-Ups in a row. If you're not there yet, you need to incorporate eccentric training into your program so you can control your body weight for an extended period of time.

Unsure where to start? Here's how to increase Pull-Ups exponentially.

During the eccentric portion of a lift, you are 20 to 30 percent stronger than on the concentric portion. Your muscles lengthen as they develop tension, and your body is able to handle more of a load. This is an important aspect of any exercise, one that improves technique and tempo while developing strength and reducing injury. It slows down the exercise so you can really concentrate on your form while receiving coaching cues.

How do you incorporate this into your program? By alternating Eccentric Only Neutral Grip Pull-Ups with Lat Pull-Downs on different training days. The Eccentric Only teaches you how to control your body while building overall upper-body pulling strength and grip strength. With Lat Pull-Downs, you want to go through a controlled motion concentrically, pausing at the bottom isometrically and controlling the weight on the way up. Jerking and going fast uses momentum to help you complete the lift, but it also increases the risk of injury.

Eccentric Only Neutral Grip Pull-Up

  • Get into position by standing on a box.
  • Lower your body under control for the desired amount of time.
  • Go all the way down into a full range of motion.

Neutral Grip Lat Pull-Down

  • Fix the bottom attachment on your quads tight enough so you remain in a stationary position and can't lift your butt off the seat.
  • Initiate the beginning of the movement with your lats so you pull with the intended muscle group first; then the elbow flexors can integrate into the movement.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Control the entire movement.


Eccentric Only Neutral Grip Pull-Up

  • 4 sets of 4-6 reps @ 3-5 seconds. Progress first by adding time to the eccentric portion, then by adding reps.

Neutral Grip Lat Pull-Down

  • 2-3 sets of 6-8 reps. Progress by doing more repetitions at the same weight. Once you get in the mid teens rep range, increase the weight.

Once you can perform a proper Neutral Grip Pull-Up, you can progress to doing multiple Pull-Ups and multiple sets. After that's been mastered, move on to Pull-Ups with different grips to make the movement more challenging. With a neutral grip, you are significantly stronger because the sum of your elbow flexors (biceps brachia, brachialis, and brachioradialis) has an effective line of pull in conjunction with your back musculature. A good way to do this is to cycle your pulls every five to seven workout sessions.

Template: AMRAP = As many reps as possible

  • Workouts 1-5: 2 sets of AMRAP on Neutral Grip Pull-Ups
  • Workouts 6-10: 2 sets of AMRAP on Medium Grip Supinated (palms facing you) Chin-Ups
  • Workouts 11-16: 2 sets of AMRAP on Narrow Grip Pronated (palms facing away from you)┬áPull-Ups
  • Workouts 17-22: 2 sets of AMRAP on Wide Grip Pronated (palms facing away from you)┬áPull-Ups
  • Make the next cycles more challenging by adding a slower eccentric, more sets and reps, or more resistance such as a weighted vest.

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