The other day my wife groped my back…

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and added, “feeling strong big boy.”  

Amazing!  Touched by the old girl and a compliment.  

I’d add what the grope led to but with three little ones driving us mad, both of us working full time and the incident taking place at the breakfast table in plane view you’ve already heard the most exciting part.

What I can tell you is this 6 seconds basked in glory didn’t happen by accident.  A heavy dose of pull ups and rows have me constantly at the ready state to receive a little attention from the wife.  Any man or woman can also set the stage for a similar compliment with a little targeted training.

Adding pulling to training a set up isn’t difficult and without a doubt must be a staple.

Every training day I alternate between a horizontal pull and a vertical pull variation.  

For horizontal pulls I focus on bent over rows on the bench and off the bench.  Working from the bench allows me to isolate the lats a little more, pull back a little further, and hold the movement at the top a little longer.  Working in the bent position off the bench puts me in a nice hang position and forces me to stabilize my lower back while performing the row. The real benefit here is that I’m setting the low back up for heavier lifting, like snatches, cleans and deadlifts down the line.   

Regarding the vertical pulls there are 3 variations I like and it’s really just a matter of playing with your grip. Consistently working three 3 grips (pronated, supinated, baseball grip) provides challenging variation and really helps to bring novelty to training.  Also, the stretch obtained at the bottom of each rep is unbelievable. Since replacing crossfit style pull work with strict pull up work my shoulders feel great.

Regardless of the pulling day the other key is starting this progression low and slow.  I love that crossfit has folks adding pull ups back to their training regime. However, the kipping madness is not where you should start your pull up journey if you are struggling to get your first.  In fact, its my view that you should not be so concerned with the amount of reps you are doing at all.

To create the stability needed to kip during a WOD, build the pulling strength to function like a proper adult, and eventually get groped by your significant other, or perhaps mis guided stranger, lies in time under tension.  At a minimum a full minute is required per set. I’d also aim for at least 3 sets to start and work toward 5 sets over time.

Gaining that minute under tension isn’t as hard has it would seem if you utilize a little tempo.  Things can add up pretty quickly and get you time in each of the three phases of muscle contraction (concentric, eccentric and isometric).  For instance no matter the grip of variation, pull for :02 (concentric), hold for :02 (isometric), and lower for :02 (eccentric). At 6 seconds per rep if you hit a nice nice set of 10 you have just set the stage for muscle growth!  

If you can’t hang that long on the pull up bar get a band to help.  If you can’t hold the dumbbell that long lighten the load.

Look gang, pull ups are something we should all have. And, all means all.  I am talking to you ladies and old people! If my 5 year old daughter can hammer out sets of 6 L-Pull ups you can start this journey and get better today.  We were all gifted the ability to be awesome. It’s a matter of deciding you are!

Don’t do it for me or because I said so.  

Do it for yourself.  

I started the story discussing an unsolicited compliment procured by a loved one.  What could be more precious? Well, maybe pulling yourself out of a hole, or having the grip, power and strength of halt your demise, or others, by cliff fall!

Any who, if you’re interested in hearing a little more about my pulling progression give my latest podcast a listen!     

Podcast link here https://backcountryandbarbells.com/episode-3-managing-travel-cultivating-discipline-and-pull-ups/

You can also head over to my youtube channel and see how I add tempo to pull ups!

Demo Link  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wXzoU9GLLA

I also wrote a program called Base Camp that features the alternating pulling work mentioned above.  

BaseCamp Link https://joesbarbell.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/BaseCamp.pdf

Thanks for following along and please, let me know your thoughts, how I can help your training, and if you know anyone else I should be learning from!  

Happy Lifting