Weighted pull ups – take it to the next level

So you have mastered the pull up! Weighted pull ups are an excellent way to step things up and really see some amazing strength improvements.

If you can bang out multiple sets of regular pull ups you have already achieved something many people spend years dreaming about (some of them would be happy with just being able to do a single rep, and that is a great achievement in itself when starting from nothing).

If you want to learn what muscles pull ups actually work click here.

There are a number of ways to challenge yourself from here. Weighted pull ups are an excellent choice and let’s not forget they are also really impressive so that is always a bonus. 

If you started out not being able to perform a regular pull up and had to work through the steps and progressions like negatives and assisted versions to achieve multiple reps you will find the weighted pull up journey similar. What do I mean?

Weighted Pull Ups- Getting Started

I mean you don’t want to try and lift twice your own body weight on day one. Apart from failing miserably and crushing your confidence you could also end up with a nasty injury setting your training back by weeks, months or even permanently. 

If you are training in a gym then you will probably have more options here. Most gyms will have weight belts with attachments for adding plates so you can just choose something light to start with and progress from there. 

If you are training at home or outdoors you may not have so much equipment. My personal preference is to use a weight vest. I usually don’t get to the gym so have devised ways to get a wider range of workouts with less equipment at home.

A weight vest can be used for so many exercises and is usually not expensive. My wife likes to use it too and since they can be as light or as heavy as you want it covers all situations. You can even use it for weighted running in Crossfit style WOD’s but lets get back to pull ups for now. 

Weighted pull ups beginners money saving tip

If you are at the very start of your weighted pull up journey don’t rush out and spend money on equipment if you don’t have it. Assuming you only want to add a few extra lbs at first you can simply use a backpack. Fill some water bottles or anything else that will hold some weight and put them in the backpack. You now have your own homemade weight vest. 

This is fine at the early stages, just be aware that it is not suitable for heavier weights and you should also make sure the backpack can take the weight as you don’t want it snapping off midway through a rep. 

You have chosen your weighted method so whats next?

Assuming that you now have a way to hang weights from yourself it’s time to get started. Here is what I recommend to get you moving:

  1. Start with a weight that you can achieve 3-5 full range reps with
  2. Go up around 15-20% from that weight
  3. Try to do as many reps as you can at that new weight
  4. Once you fail on a rep drop back to the starting weight and do as many sets of 3-5 reps as you can with one minute rest between sets
  5. When you can no longer do any weighted reps remove the weights and do regular pull ups with your normal volume of sets. You should be fatigued after 4-5 sets max here
  6. Thats it, rinse and repeat.

By following this pattern and increasing the weights as you need to your strength will improve and so will your other lifts. It is also important to look at other secondary exercises which I will cover in another guide. 

So take this blueprint, give it a try and let me know how it goes.