I hear a lot that you should not train pull ups to failure, so I usually do strength training with lots of rest in between sets. The reps depend on whether I choose to do Fighter pull up mode (5-4-3-2-1) or SSPT mode (8x2), but always try to do same or higher volume than before.

However, would it be better if on certain days where I may choose only to do pull ups, I train in steps (1-2-3-2-1..) and do more volume. Yesterday I did 48 reps as compared to 16 reps I do usually. Occasionally I failed on the max-rep set with a 60-90 second interval between sets.

My pull up progression is the worst in my overall bodyweight training. One of my concerns is that I am extremely skinny, and I think if I only do strength training, then perhaps my hypertrophy gains won't be as high as my strength gains, and I won't have a big enough fuel tank to progress well.

  • 1
    What is your question? Commented Aug 9, 2019 at 8:18
  • It's in the second paragraph. Whether it is better to do less volume with strength training or doing four times as much volume in training to failure. Commented Aug 9, 2019 at 9:54

1 Answer 1


I don't see why training pull-ups to failure would be worse than something else. You just can't do it every time because you fry your nervous system and need time to recover. Doing it too frequently therefore raises the probability of injury. And given that the pull ups may cause some damage to the shoulder I would assume this is the reason, the shoulder being a complicated body part to keep healthy and heal.

Now to your question, strength has two components : a "physical" one and a "nervous one". The physical one is gained by increasing the size/number of your muscle fibers. The number is apparently not easy (or even possible) to increase while the size can be increase via classical body building training i.e. higher number of repetitions i.e. more volume. The nervous one is gained by training at low repetitions because then the strength is gained through better coordination of the muscle fibers together, better coordination of inter-related muscles and firing-rate of the necessary muscles. Take up any good book on strength training and you should see those two components.

So ... I would say it depends on what you want to achieve. Going to failure also trains the psychological aspect of it, your capacity to overcome "pain" and "tiredness".

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