How To Make Pull-Ups More Challenging

This one is for the beasts out there. If you can already bang out 10 or 20 pull-ups, you might be getting a little bored. Earlier we talked about how to make pull-ups easier, but now it's time for the flip side. Here are some of the more advanced moves you can try once you've mastered the basics.

Photo by Claudio Brisighello.

  • Weighted pull-ups. You may be able to add weight before you add reps, so give it a try. Gyms often have a belt near the pull-up station with an attached chain. You can hang a weight plate on the chain to give yourself an extra workout with each rep.
  • One-arm pull-ups. To work towards these, you'll need to use your second hand for assistance, but use it less and less as you get stronger. For example, do pull-ups with your hands closer and closer together, then use one hand to grab the other wrist. After that, progress to one of these one-and-a-half-armed variations.
  • Muscle-ups on a bar or on rings. This is a pull-up where, at the top of the motion, you simply keep going up. You end up with straight arms, hands on top of the bar, as if you were leaning on a countertop. This hand position is different than the usual grip for pull-ups, so one way to get started is practicing pull-ups in this "false grip" position.
  • Typewriter pull-ups, where you go back and forth along the bar as if you were a typewriter carriage, or perhaps a cartoon squirrel eating corn on the cob.
  • Pull-ups with just your fingers. It's the same exercise, just with two or three fingers on the bar instead of all four.
  • All the unbelievable things rock climbers do. A lot of climbing is like doing pull-ups with just your fingers, so next time you visit a climbing gym, check out the training equipment they have, like fingerboards that give you different ways to practice doing pull-ups or hangs with just your fingers.

None of these pull-ups are easy; you could work for years on getting a good one-armed pull-up, for example. At least now you'll never be bored at the pull-up bar.


    Put lego below you so that if you stop you have to step on the lego.

    Install landmines underneath. You stop you go boom

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