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I want increase my endurance with bodyweight exercises including pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups etc.

Would it be better to use progressive overload and start at, for example: 3x4 reps for Pull-ups and progress by an extra rep per set every day until I get to my max (say 3x8) and then rest for a day and resume...

or...

grease the groove: do single sets of low reps (for example 3 reps a go) throughout the day. So for example, every time I walk into my room, do 3 pull ups.

or...

a combination of the two: grease the groove with 2 pull-ups a go on the first day, 3 pull-ups a go on the second day, 4 on the third etc. until I reach the point where I'm doing 1 under my max every day and then have a day or two rest and resume?

Also, from what I've read about greasing the groove, it's just making your muscles more efficient - so surely gtg will only work for a certain period of time before you're muscles are as efficient as they can be - maybe then is the time to swap to progressive overload?

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How many pull-ups can you do right now? –  Dave Liepmann May 16 '13 at 16:22
    
My 1 set max: 12 –  Dan May 16 '13 at 16:38
    
At such numbers, the most progress will come from weighting your pull-ups: that is what would constitute progressive overload for you. I wrote some thoughts on this in another answer, but basically, find a way to add weight and keep adding about 2kg a week (with a standard schedule, eg 3x(5-8) thrice a week). The magic starts once the weight is off. –  VPeric May 16 '13 at 19:27
    
@VPeric You recommend adding weight with a 1-set max of 12 reps? –  Dave Liepmann May 16 '13 at 19:47
    
I don't have the equipment or the want for weighted pull-ups. I just want to improve my endurance of moving my own body around. –  Dan May 16 '13 at 20:13

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

If you currently have a one-set max of 12 good-form full-range-of-motion pull-ups, then doing three sets of four isn't going to do much to move that max count. Nor will even a large number of sets of 3 throughout the day. You need to do high-rep sets to improve your high-rep set performance.

In my experience, once I am doing a dozen pull-ups, greasing the groove isn't useful as my sole approach. To improve past 8 or so reps I need to do sets of more than 8. (Below 6 or 8, I've found greasing the groove quite useful on its own.) The primary way I'll do this is with 3 sets of my max (say, 15 then 13 then 12) plus some optional couple back-off sets of 5 to 8 or maybe a version of greasing the groove with a handful of 5- or 10-rep sets on days I'm otherwise resting. 3x4 seems like a step backwards.

If your 12-rep-max isn't current, or finishes with three kipping reps, or finishes with two reps with bad form, or doesn't involve a full range of motion, then I'd use greasing the groove or lower-rep sets to work on those aspects of my pull-ups first.

Make sure you warm up and stretch out your shoulders properly in the morning before your first set of greasing the groove.

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I'm not sure that progressive overload means what you think it means. To me, progressive overload means "work near your limit." If I can do 12 pull-ups, then 3 sets of 4 pull-ups isn't near my limit, so it doesn't help get me better at pull-ups. Progressive overload for that scenario might be 3 sets of 10, or 12 then 10 then 8, or 8 sets of 8 with short rests. Greasing the groove with sets of 6 or 7 would definitely help--but I'd still do near-max sets during my actual workouts. –  Dave Liepmann May 16 '13 at 17:16
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The approach you describe of 3x4, then 3x5 the next day, then, then 3x6 up to 3xMax before resetting I've only seen used for gymnastic moves (such as in Building the Gymnastic Body), where the progressive overload is provided by advancing to a more difficult variation of the move. For instance, if my best front lever is a tuck front lever for 3 seconds, then I might do 6 sets of 15 second tuck front levers, then 6 sets of 20 seconds, then 6 sets of 30 seconds (my max) before dropping back to 6 sets with less time (say, 15 seconds) of a more advanced technique (say, a half-tucked front lever). –  Dave Liepmann May 16 '13 at 17:19
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Chat room!!!!!! –  BigHomie May 16 '13 at 18:05
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Resetting for barbell exercises is different than bodyweight exercises done for reps. For barbells, you do X pounds, 5 sets, 5 reps, and if you can't then you back off. With bodyweight you're usually just shooting for a vague number of reps for 3 or so sets. "3 sets to failure" is a fine pull-up program, and there is no need to "deload" to fewer reps if you do fewer than expected. Shooting for 12 reps each time and only getting 12,10,8 is fine, no need to "deload", just keep aiming for 12,12,12 (or 13,13,13) next time. You don't deload the number of reps with bodyweight exercises. –  Dave Liepmann May 16 '13 at 19:38
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Gradually increasing reps is progressive overload. I just don't see where you get the idea of decreasing the reps again. –  Dave Liepmann May 16 '13 at 20:06

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