Category Archives for "Athleticism"


Why you can’t do even one pull-up and how to fix it

I’m sure you’ve seen somebody do pull-ups with such an ease and grace that you were simply amazed. And, you probably thought, I’d love to be able to do pull-ups like him.

And, that thought made you feel bad because you are painfully aware that you can’t do even one pull-up.

Okay. Here is the thing: If you have two arms you can learn to do pull-ups. Period! I don’t care if you are a female or male, small or large, young or old. All you need to do is learn the skill.

And, I say “learn the skill” because the pull-up is not an innate capability, like the push-up – push-ups are fairly simple: go down, go up. All you need is the strength. The pull-up is a learned skill, which goes way beyond just being strong.

Think about it this way: To hit a tire with a sledgehammer you have to have two arms and the ability to swing a sledgehammer. That’s your push-ups.

To play the piano you also have to have two arms, right? But, that’s not enough – you also need to acquire the skill. So, think of the pull-up as learning the piano, only learning the pull-up is much, much easier.

Ok, then, but why is it so difficult for us to learn to do the pull-up?

Here are the two main reasons why:

  1. We do the wrong exercises
  2. We use assistance instead of gravity

In the first case here is how we think: “To learn to do a pull-up I have to train my biceps and my lats.” And, we end up doing isolation exercises.

The problem is the pull-up is a complex movement pattern and it requires that we train the entire body exactly the way the pull-up is done. Which simply means you have to train the pull-up by doing pull-ups. There is no other way around it!

In the second case, we use pull-up assist machines and rubber bands instead of gravity. There are 3 big problems with assist machines and bands:

1) they provide too much help and at the wrong times;

2) they don’t train some of the muscles we need for unassisted pull-ups – like the core muscles for example; and

3) transitioning from assisted to non-assisted pull-ups is even harder than starting from scratch.

So many people have told their stories of being able to do 8-10 pull-ups with minimal assistance but as soon as they try unassisted pull-ups they feel like their muscles are frozen.

Ok. So, this is why you can’t do the pull-up, but how do you fix that? Here’s how…

  1. Train pull-ups by doing pull-ups. This is called Specificity – meaning train the skill you want to learn. If you want to learn to play soccer you are going to sign up for soccer, not for tennis – that’s specificity.
  2. Do pull-ups using gravity and your own body weight. The only techniques you’re going to need are static holds and negatives. That’s it. Nothing fancy. At the end of this article, I’ll link to a video I made a few years back that demonstrates these techniques in a fun way.
  3. Train the pull-up often – that means 3-5 times a day, every day. When you watch the video that I just mentioned, keep in mind that it’s a fun video and it says train every other day. You should train every day, several times a day. And, don’t worry about overtraining. Just practice the skill like you’d practice the piano.

I personally have a pull-up bar on the door to my home office. Several times a day as I go through the door I do a few pull-ups.

This is it. If you do these 3 things there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that you will learn to do the pull-up.

Anyone can learn to do pull-ups – ANYONE! And, that includes you. You just have to commit to it, be diligent, and put in your time and effort – just like I did.

I’m leaving you with this message. There are two types of people in the world:

those who talk about things,
and those who make things happen

Which type of person are you?

If you are still reading, I think I know the answer. And, I know you know it, too. So, get to work and make this happen. And, I’m here to support you every step of the way!

Video: My workout [Sept. 2016]: Part 4 of 4 – WORKOUT SUMMARY

We are at the end of this 4-step video series.

In this fourth and last video, I summarize everything I said and demonstrated in the previous three videos.

I explain (one more time) my gym workout, its components, what I do and don’t do, when I do the stuff and for how long. I also talk about my non-gym-day training and skill practice, and my personal opinion on training with isolation machines (which I don’t do!).

I also talk about my non-gym-day training and skill practice, and about my personal opinion on training with isolation machines (which I don’t do!).


Video: My workout [Sept. 2016]: Part 3 of 4 – RELATIVE STRENGTH

In this third installment of “My workout” video series, I talk about and demonstrate Relative strength training.

“Relative strength” is a strength training that’s relative to your own body weight – in other words, it’s bodyweight training aka. calisthenics.

I do insert a little weight here and there and that’s to challenge myself even more than what just my bodyweight can provide as far as a challenge to my musculoskeletal system.

In this vid I demonstrate front-lever-like pull-ups (from vertical to horizontal, not from strict front lever), combined with ice cream makers. Also, handstands and pistol squat. I also throw in a set of dragon flags and a couple of dashes of sprints at the very end.

Not everything I did that day for my bodyweight training segment is on the video – I didn’t record stuff that I did more than once, such as the handstand and additional pull-ups for example.

In the fourth and last installment, I’ll summarize everything I did and said in the previous three videos.

Video: My workout [Sept. 2016]: Part 2 of 4 – POWER

My workout – installment 2 out of 4.

In this installment – how I train for EXPLOSIVE POWER.

Usually, there are several exercises that I resort to for my power training part of the workout: vertical jump, power clean, muscle up, clap push-ups, or clap pull-ups.

Regardless of what additional exercises I want to do for power during a particular workout I aways, ALWAYS do the vertical jump.

The vertical jump is the most pure representation of explosive power. It involves the posterior chain – hip drive. Power is generated in the hips – always!

My strong suggestion – include jumps in your workout – vertical, broad, plyometric training of vertical jumps, etc.

In the first installment, I discussed the Absolute strength portion of my workout. In the third installment of this video series, I will discuss the Relative strength training portion of my workout.