Tuesday Tip of the Week: Chest to Bar Pull Ups

Chest to bar pull ups aka the nemesis to most of you in 18.5!

How can we improve this complex gymnastics movement? We have more than just 1 option, folks. My advice is to think from a general perspective, you need to improve your pulling strength. For very few people their limitation is actually something like mobility or their inability physically to pull their chest to the bar. The limiter for 95% is raw strength.

We often train our pulling strength to only partial range. We love to do chin over the bar pull ups, and in a workout for time, this is the only standard you should uphold when that is all that is asked of you, as it allows for faster reps and more work. However, when we are training for skill work or strength development in body weight movements, I encourage you all to PULL as deep as you can. For many of you a strict chest to bar pull up is very hard if impossible to do, yet we have the expectation to “add a kip” and be able to do it repetitively in a workout. My solution for you guys is to add in more strict pulling where you pull as deep as you can and not just to the minimum standard.

Try this:

1-2 days a week add in strict chest to bar work or pull ups as deep as possible, no kipping though.

Apply this in ranges where you don’t go to complete muscle failure but close. An example would be sets of 3-6 reps with as much rest as needed to repeat the rep scheme for 3-4 sets. You can even super set it with another movement that is also a weakness.

Another day you can work a lower reps scheme, think almost “half the work” and focus specifically on eccentric versions of the chest to bar pull ups. I suggest stepping onto a box or bench that puts you at the bar, then raising your feet while chest is still on the bar and literally fighting gravity and holding it there for as long as possible. You can do sets of one for max effort or as slow as possible or you can do sets of 3-5 where you lower for a count of 4-5 seconds!

The over arching point is that we all need more strict strength, specifically in deeper ranges of motion for the pull up. If you develop a bigger set of strict chest to bar, you will strengthen every aspect of your kipping chest to bar pull ups or butterfly chest to bar pull up!

Get to the basics, add in some of the examples above to pre or post WOD and start crushing more reps in workouts like 18.5