In the grand scheme of things, my pullups have been one exercise where I don't see much progression. I've "always" been able to do 3-5 pullups by nature, and even now, after several years, I still wouldn't call it progress. Granted, the 5-7 reps I do now are more quality reps, but I'd definitely expect more progress.

I am beginning to resign myself to the possibility that it's simply my routine that isn't allowing me the best progress in that area.

My usual routine...

...consists of a 3-day split. Push, pull, legs. You know what I mean. On pull-days, pullups are my first exercise, and I've been doing every set/rep scheme known to man. Everything from 8x3 to 3x8, varying grips, and adding weights on belt on the first few sets.

My attempted change-up lately...

...has been to throw in some pullups at the end of the workout on push day and leg day too, just to increase the frequency at which I do pullups. And I do feel like that's been helpful. Whenever I get back to pull day, I can often do 1-2 more reps total, but that might also be because it's a good day in general.


What would you recommend I do in order to progress here? As mentioned, my goal is to progress into muscle-ups. My reps now are pretty good, and I can pull myself up pretty explosively, to the point where I get my chest to the bar. And I mainly do pronated grip pullups, although after I've done that, I tend to change it up for variation. Everything from supinated (chins) to neutral grip.

2 Answers 2


Sounds like you're ready to start muscle-up training, your numbers are decent enough (5 sets of 5 is my target before I move my students to muscle-up training).

Add in some jumping muscle-ups to your workout routine.

You're going to need a false grip on the bar, which means putting your thumbs and palm on the bar, rather than your fingers. This allows you to transition easier.

For the jumping muscle-ups, start off in front of the bar. This is really important, as in a muscle-up you pull backwards, rather than upwards like a pull-up.

So set yourself in front of the bar, with your hands in a false grip. Then explosively jump backwards and up. Kick your knees up and bring your arms down as fast as you can.

Once your chest is past the bar, do the fastest sit-up you can imagine and you'll be over the bar.

Combine this will kipping pull-ups and keep practising.


Here is a video tutorial I posted on how to do a jumping muscle-up


  • 1
    Good stuff! Living close to a park with monkey bars for some time, I got pretty acquanited with bar kips, which also brought me above the bar. Will definitely start throwing them into the routine now. Might not make it all the way over just yet, but getting used to the motion will probably help. Thanks!
    – Alec
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 17:40
  • No worries mate. If I get a chance this weekend, I'll film a tutorial for this move and put it on my YouTube channel.
    – Dave Mace
    Commented May 14, 2015 at 1:55
  • @DaveMace What's a false grip?
    – Daft
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 10:45
  • 1
    @Daft, check out the video I posted above. Basically you put your palm and thumb on top of the bar. It means that when you transition from under to on top of the bar you don't have to move your hands quite as much.
    – Dave Mace
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 22:01

Since you can do 5 to 7 pull-ups and your goal is muscle-ups, I'd focus on high-rep sets in every workout. Three sets of 8 is OK, but I've found that pull-ups respond very well to volume. Five sets of 8 on "pull" days, plus 3 sets of 8 on "push" and "leg" days would be a start. So would greasing the groove with sets of 2 or 3 all throughout the day, if you have access to a pull-up bar at home or work.

Another method that's worked for me is to pick a target total number of reps--50 would be a good choice for your situation--and try to hit that every day (or every workout day) in as few sets as possible. Don't fry yourself on your first set, don't exert yourself to failure, but just push yourself to get a lot of reps in each set and to keep adding sets until you hit 50 total. This approach worked for me when "3 sets to failure" stopped helping.

As for transitioning to muscle-ups, you should be training on rings at least some of the time, incorporating dips into your regimen, and trying out a false grip. When working on a bar, changing your grips and switching to chin-ups at least part of the time can help with muscle-up prep.

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