I had a long-term goal of achieving a one-arm pull-up. After doing some bodyweight workouts (one arm negatives, muscle ups (sort of), various pull-ups), I decided to try out weighted pull-ups. My goal is to do a weighted pull-up with 170 lbs, which is my weight. I am doing a 5x5 workout, based off of the Stronglifts 5x5. I do weighted pull-ups every other workout (switching between this and weighted dips), and I work out 3 times a week. I'm stuck at doing 5 reps of 110 lbs weight+bodyweight pull-ups.

How do I get over this plateau? I can do my first set fairly well, but after 2 sets I can barely do 3 reps. (and I get about 3 min rest in between, so I'm not tiring myself out). I would greatly appreciate any tips or workout regimens that worked for you.

3 Answers 3


Also consider doing two arm pullups, but shortening the length of pull on one side. This is achieved by doing a wide grip on one side, but standard on the other. When you shorten/contract one side partially, you hinder the amount of work it can perform, biasing the side that is performing full range-of-motion.

This is also one of my goals, and I am working towards it by executing pullups using a bar that has a gusset of 45 degrees coming off the pull up bar. This allows me to bias one side.

You may not have access to a pull up bar like this, but get creative by using a band or the like.

Law of diminishing returns applies!

Plateaus are always hard to deal with. Given your workload, it appears as if you are concentrating on strength when considering the strength developmental continuum. Because of that law, your body has become efficient working at the repetition range. Staying here will eventually mean a decrease in performance.

Your choice is then to move to peak power and strength, increasing the weight and decreasing the repetitions in order to become stronger, or decreasing the weight and increasing the repetitions to increase endurance.

I would move to decreasing the repetitions to focus on strength for about two weeks (more weight, less reps, closer to 4 reps than 6). Upon that point, and depending on your results from that microcycle I would continue along either an undulating periodization program (strength one day, hypertrophy another, endurance another) or a traditional (endurance, hypertrophy, strength, power, peak strength, peak power, in that order).

The law always applies, so you've gotta switch it up.

  • You can also hang a towel on one side and grip it progressively lower to achieve the same effect.
    – VPeric
    Jan 6, 2014 at 7:02

Drop weight and add reps.

Remember, too, that weighted pull-ups are only one part of working to a one-arm chin. You should still be doing one-arm negatives, one-and-a-half arm chins, and so on.

  • 2
    One recommendation I've seen is that it should be ok to start one-arm work (specifically, eccentrics) once you do weighted pulls with half of your bodyweight. OP is above that, so he should probably be working one-arm already. And of course, joint/tendon strength will be a big one. Don't really know how to approach that.
    – VPeric
    Jan 5, 2014 at 22:27

You should be trying to improve your bicep work capacity too.

Don't forget to have a proper macronutrient intake. Aside from neuromuscular changes, you cannot be stronger if your muscles cannot grow, and your muscles cannot grow if you don't eat what you should eat. Muscles don't come up from nothing.

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