My target is to do 50 pullups (without coming down in between them of course).

Is it more beneficial (faster for me to hit my target) by doing 1-shot as much as I can or is it more beneficial to split it into like 5 sets but 5 times lesser?

For example, right now in 1-shot I can manage 20.

But if I do 1 and come down, pause, and 1 and come down, pause, I can do a hundred (and possibly more if I just push it)

Side question: is it easier to aim for 50 pullups, 50 chinups, or 50 of 1-hand-facing-1-hand-not ?

1 Answer 1


First of all, 20 pullups is quite a feat, good job! I assume you are doing them with proper form: chin over bar on top, elbows locked and body still at the bottom. If you are doing something else, or eg. kipping pullups (basically, using your momentum in any way), the first thing you should do is transition to strict form pullups.

Doing 50 pullups is as much a matter of endurance as it is of strength. Personally, I've had a lot of good results doing weighted pullups, which build up strength. This will allow you to literally "fly" once the weight is off. What you want to do is to use a dip-belt and hang progressively bigger weights on it. You could also use a backpack (and fill it with eg. bags of sand) but it tends to hang awkwardly and it messes up your center of mass; because of this it also limits the amount of weight you can add. Using a dip belt takes care of all this. You should start low, a few kilograms added only (so as not to stress your joints too much). You should be able to add about 2 or 2.5 kgs every week. You can combine weighted pullups with any sort of program.

As for the program itself, I've again had a lot of luck doing "ladders". Basically, do 1, then 2, then 3 up to as much as you can, and then all the way back. Add a final "max effort" series at the end. If the last series is close or above your maximum, increase the max next time. The idea is to completely slaughter yourself. Doing ladders is beneficial because it will help with both strength (low reps, especially on the way back) and endurance (the high reps).

All that said, though, I don't think I know anyone who can do 50 strict form pullups, so this is all purely academic. Also, when you say you can do over a hundred with pauses, is this with hanging all the time or with letting go of the bar? If you are hanging through all this, then you are way beyond me and this advice might not apply to you at all.


Bonus: Most people will find chin-ups easiest (with mixed grip in the middle and pullups the hardest) but this depends on how well some specific muscles are developed and even your technique. They all target slightly different muscle groups, though, so for the best overall results you should probably try to use all grips (and even vary your grip width). If you must focus on one, the most popular choice are pullups.

  • heys thanks for the reply. anyway for the 100 i have to come down pretty much alot of times.
    – Pacerier
    Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 11:48
  • btw do you think it is normal to feel the muscles of the forearm burning after doing alot of pullup/chinups? often i do have this feeling and the muscles feel like they are very tight (for a lack of better word). on the contrary i do not feel much burning sensation at the biceps, so i'm suspecting i may have been doing something wrongly.
    – Pacerier
    Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 11:48
  • 2
    @Pacerier: This is ok, the biceps aren't actually involved very much in pullups (chin-ups emphasize them more, they're still not the most important muscle involved). On the other hand, you use your forearm muscles to maintain your grip and they are constantly under tension. In fact, I've seen many athletes whose main weak link was their grip/forearm strength. One simple way to train your grip strength is to wrap your pullup bar with a towel and hold onto that - a thicker bar equals more work for the forearm.
    – VPeric
    Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 12:10
  • @VPeric, Is it possible to increase my pull up reps without adding any extra weight? I have plateaued at 3 sets of 10,7,5 reps.
    – TheOne
    Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 14:40

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