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How many Pullups can you do?
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Richard Turpin Offline
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Post: #1
How many Pullups can you do?
I was looking through my old training diary the other day and was pissed off to see that I've hardly progressed at all in (wide-grip) Pullups in the last two years.

I usually try to do 3 sets of 10. Looking back in the diary, I can do the first set, usually get 8 for the second then 6 or 8 for the third.

My best is 13 good ones. No better than I did years ago.


I'm mid-40s and about 190lbs. Been training since my teens but only been doing pullups for last couple of years.

I've got a belt so I can add weight to them if I want to. The plan was always to wait till I could do 3 sets of 10 easy before doing this. But I'm going to start adding weight to get over this hump.

I train alone, so don't have a good handle on what is a good number of pullups, so how many are others here able to knock out?

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(This post was last modified: 11-08-2018 08:16 AM by Richard Turpin.)
11-08-2018 08:06 AM
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Post: #2
RE: How many Pullups can you do?
Around 10 max rep (full arm-length ones) right now. Used to be able to do 15.

I'm not particularly strong but I climb and pull-ups are inherently related to body weight. That's why skinny guys can often do more than muscular guys.

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11-08-2018 08:32 AM
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Horus Offline
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Post: #3
RE: How many Pullups can you do?
I've noticed that I can do different numbers on different pull up bars at the gym, even with identical hand spacing, which I haven't been able to work out. Perhaps one bar has more flexibility than others allowing a spring effect to help with upward momentum. Anyway, I've been focussing on these lately and I've got up to 8 (on the "easier"bar) from only 3 a few months ago, partly due to strength gain and partly weight loss. It's a slow process.
11-08-2018 09:57 AM
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RE: How many Pullups can you do?
(11-08-2018 09:57 AM)Horus Wrote:  I've noticed that I can do different numbers on different pull up bars at the gym, even with identical hand spacing, which I haven't been able to work out. Perhaps one bar has more flexibility than others allowing a spring effect to help with upward momentum. Anyway, I've been focussing on these lately and I've got up to 8 (on the "easier"bar) from only 3 a few months ago, partly due to strength gain and partly weight loss. It's a slow process.

It may be the thickness of the bar? Thick bars are much harder coz they force you to employ grip strength -- which is often the weakest link in the chain.

Lifters do the same when they use those 'fat grips' or whatever they're called.

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11-08-2018 10:15 AM
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Leonard D Neubache Offline
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Post: #5
RE: How many Pullups can you do?
I've suffered a similar issue with pushups for decades. I can make gains on chinups but pushups kick my ass no matter how long I stick with it. Strange.

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11-08-2018 10:20 AM
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Post: #6
RE: How many Pullups can you do?
The most I've ever done is 22 dead hang, full extension, no kipping (the only way to really count pullups). Like someone mentioned above, the easiest way to increase your reps is to lose weight. I think I'd try that before I started adding weights to a weight belt if I could only do 10.

The thing that helped me a lot was getting a pullup bar that goes into a door frame. Put that sucker on the bathroom door then make a deal with yourself that every time you take a piss, knock out 3 reps. When that becomes second nature, increase to 4, then 5, etc. You'd be shocked how quickly this will increase your numbers. But, overall, if you're carrying extra body weight, start getting rid of it.

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11-08-2018 10:30 AM
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Post: #7
RE: How many Pullups can you do?
I can do 18 strict currently. For a couple years I was doing them with weights in a backback and got up to doing 10-12 reps with 50lbs and could do about 30 bodyweight pull ups. Adding weights is the best way to progress, and changing it up with different grips, I like doing hammer grip and wide chins with a slight lean.
11-08-2018 10:33 AM
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Post: #8
RE: How many Pullups can you do?
I've done 25 strict before but I was 155 pounds at the time. I'm also built for pulling exercises. I rarely do pull ups a single big set though now.

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11-08-2018 10:37 AM
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Post: #9
RE: How many Pullups can you do?
I can do 14 in full, proper form currently. I'm aiming for 20.
11-08-2018 10:43 AM
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Post: #10
RE: How many Pullups can you do?
(11-08-2018 10:20 AM)Leonard D Neubache Wrote:  I've suffered a similar issue with pushups for decades. I can make gains on chinups but pushups kick my ass no matter how long I stick with it. Strange.

I read somewhere that your push up to pull up ratio should be about 4:1 for balanced strength - unbalanced pushing/pulling strength can lead to shoulder injuries so your problem is probably a good one to have.
11-08-2018 10:43 AM
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Post: #11
RE: How many Pullups can you do?
Back when I was in university, I could do 29 as I recall. I was in ROTC and max score was 30 so I was shooting for that but never quite made it. Now I can do maybe 8. I never train pullups nowadays because I live in hotels and do my exercise in the morning and no bar available. Please don't suggest using a door. I wrecked a hotel door long ago trying to do pullups against it. (Against the door itself, not inside the frame, I mean.) And no, I'm not going to do pullups later in the day when I'm walking around and spot a bar. I know myself and my motivation is limited (I'm 57). Grateful I have enough motivation to do those 20 minutes of floor exercises each morning.

Since I can't do pullups, I work lats and grip using yoga scale pose on fingertips. Fingertip L-sit would be similar. Handstands build some shoulder girdle strength related to pullups. Yoga peacock works biceps to a very limited extent. But no way to fully duplicate pullups using just floor exercises. Since I can do about 90 regular pushups, I'm quite unbalanced.

For guys who do have a bar available, I strongly recommend hanging from a towel (or two towels fur wide grip): works grip, no callouses, allows elbows to assume natural alignment.
(This post was last modified: 11-08-2018 11:14 AM by Shemp.)
11-08-2018 11:11 AM
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Post: #12
RE: How many Pullups can you do?
~212 body weight

8-10 chin ups, though I mostly do them with weight now. I like to alternate between underhand and neutral grip when I can.
11-08-2018 11:29 AM
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Post: #13
RE: How many Pullups can you do?
(11-08-2018 11:11 AM)Shemp Wrote:  For guys who do have a bar available, I strongly recommend hanging from a towel (or two towels fur wide grip): works grip, no callouses, allows elbows to assume natural alignment.

Great tip about the towel! I first started pull-ups through Judo, where we used to hang the Gi over the bar. Worked finger and grip strength as well.

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11-08-2018 11:37 AM
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Post: #14
RE: How many Pullups can you do?
I haven't tried to max a set of pullups in a long time, but walking into the gym fresh I'd venture to say I could hit 10-12 good ones. I'm currently around ~206 lbs.

Pullups are like any other movement - you need to train them to get good at them and hit a lot of reps-per-set. Body weight is a big factor, but I've seen dude 250 lbs+ hitting large sets and even doing muscle ups so training is a huge component. If you have strong arms and a strong back then you can smash pullups regardless of weight.
11-08-2018 12:00 PM
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Post: #15
RE: How many Pullups can you do?
21 for me but I’m around 230.

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11-08-2018 10:04 PM
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Post: #16
RE: How many Pullups can you do?
On a very very good day I can hit 30 at 225....But for some odd reason, I do more dead hang pull ups than the half reps ones.

But I pride myself on the fact that I can do 10 Pulls ups with a 45-pound weight under me, AND 2 reps with 90 pounds under me.
(This post was last modified: 11-08-2018 10:12 PM by Donfitz007.)
11-08-2018 10:11 PM
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RE: How many Pullups can you do?
(11-08-2018 12:00 PM)General Stalin Wrote:  Pullups are like any other movement - you need to train them to get good at them and hit a lot of reps-per-set. Body weight is a big factor, but I've seen dude 250 lbs+ hitting large sets and even doing muscle ups so training is a huge component. If you have strong arms and a strong back then you can smash pullups regardless of weight.

I have a friend 265lbs + who did 17 in his mid 30s.

I could do 14 +/- at my max. One time I did a program and it did make a big difference.

I agree with the weightloss thing, especially if you drop weight and were previously heavier, you get the immediate lift
11-08-2018 10:11 PM
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Post: #18
RE: How many Pullups can you do?
At my gym there is no bar for pullup, only a system with a bunch of different grips (a hammer grip and a very wide pullup grip).

The pullup grip is too wide for me and gives me some kind of rotator cuff pains for the next few days. So I avoid this exercise until I switch to a gym that has pullup bars where I can adjust the width myself. Anyone has had this issue before?

I began working out a few months ago, I can do 9 hammer-grip pull ups (strict). No idea what would be the equivalent for normal pullup (I guess less reps) and chinup (more reps?).
11-09-2018 01:29 AM
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Post: #19
RE: How many Pullups can you do?
Chin ups use more muscle mass... so give better benifit. Remember. After about 12 reps it’s just endurance. Remember the benifit tapers off... being able to do 30 reps is not as twice as useful as 15... after 15, it’s how much lactic acid can you tolerate!

A better stratagy is to add wieght as the user above nailed, or super slow reps with minimal acceleration and no lock out, muscles always under tension. Unless your a rock climber, I would go the strenght route (3-8reps, stop 2 reps of failure).

I think 15 was my measured best. Full hang.
11-09-2018 01:39 AM
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Post: #20
RE: How many Pullups can you do?
185lbs , I do 5 reps for 3 sets with an extra 60lbs on me, NomoreTo, your friend is a monster
11-09-2018 01:44 AM
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Post: #21
RE: How many Pullups can you do?
chin ups I can do 3x10 but pull-ups are still hard, at four to five I'm spent... don't train it a lot though
11-09-2018 02:12 AM
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RE: How many Pullups can you do?
(11-09-2018 01:39 AM)BeardedMastodon Wrote:  Chin ups use more muscle mass... so give better benifit. Remember. After about 12 reps it’s just endurance. Remember the benifit tapers off... being able to do 30 reps is not as twice as useful as 15... after 15, it’s how much lactic acid can you tolerate!

A better stratagy is to add wieght as the user above nailed, or super slow reps with minimal acceleration and no lock out, muscles always under tension. Unless your a rock climber, I would go the strenght route (3-8reps, stop 2 reps of failure).

I think 15 was my measured best. Full hang.

That's kinda what I've been wondering. At what point do I say 'that's enough reps' and start focusing on adding weight to a belt, to keep hitting that magic 'bodybuilding' range of 10ish reps with progressive overload.

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(This post was last modified: 11-09-2018 05:18 AM by Richard Turpin.)
11-09-2018 05:17 AM
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Post: #23
RE: How many Pullups can you do?
Honestly most people never reach a point where they are finished with standard bodyweight chins, unless they are a serious gymnast and already doing a lot of more advanced bodyweight stuff.

That's not to say you shouldn't vary between weighted and unweighted chinups throughout the year. Weighted chins are a great exercise, and I do more of them than unweighted chins. But I will probably spend 1/3 to 1/2 of the year working with bodyweight chins only. This is because full range of motion bodyweight chins, with a pause at the top, and a pause at the bottom where you squeeze your scapula together and hold it for a second at the absolute full extension, are still a supreme exercise, and few people, even advanced trainees, are at a point where there is no value to be derived from them. I can do between 16 and 18 of these 'excessively strict' pullups. Time spent trying to increase this number is never wasted.
11-09-2018 09:57 AM
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Post: #24
RE: How many Pullups can you do?
The most I would ever get to was 22 reasonably well-formed reps.

Now, I'd probably be lucky if I did 6? Or 8? Probably 6. But it's one of those things where if you just do them every morning, in a month or two you can quickly ramp back up to your usual max.

Unless you got fat. Then, I mean, you're still going to be fat.
11-09-2018 10:08 AM
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Post: #25
RE: How many Pullups can you do?
I can do about 15 dead hang pullups now at around 190lbs. Use to do more when I was lighter. I've done them regularly though for over a decade, and my back is monstrous because of it. Like I can stop lifting for 6 months and my arms may get get a little smaller but the back stays the same lol.
11-09-2018 10:15 AM
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