Pull-ups are one of the most basic exercises for training overall upper body strength for rock climbing. As you train them, you will notice an increase in your ability to perform more reps and sets. However, once you get comfortable with these bodyweight pull-ups, your peak strength won’t improve over time. You must expose your muscles to increasingly higher resistance over time to increase your maximum strength, a mainstay of training known as progressive overload. Building maximum strength for climbing is important. It allows you to perform more difficult movements and improves your power and endurance, if properly trained.
An easy tool that many climbers could use to increase their maximum pulling strength is weighted pull-ups. This exercise is often underused, perhaps due to a lack of knowledge or a feeling of not being ready for the extra weight. Amazingly, top rock climbing coaches like Eric Hörst say that once you can do eight pull-ups in a row with good form, you’re probably ready to start adding weight.
Below, we go over correct pull-up form, how to add weight correctly, and a simple workout routine to add this exercise to your training cycle. There are many variations of pull-ups, but in this article we will focus on the conventional pull-up.
Before you add weight to your pull-ups, you need to make sure you’re using the correct form. It might be a good idea to film yourself from multiple angles to make sure your technique is right. If you regularly experience pain in your shoulders or elbows when performing pull-ups, see a trainer, physical therapist, and/or doctor to diagnose what’s wrong.
Begin your pull-up by standing under the bar. The bar should ideally be at a height you can reach without jumping. Grasp the barbell with your palms facing outward, arms slightly wider than shoulder width apart. From a relaxed hang, engage your upper back, pulling your shoulder blades down and reducing the distance between your ears and arms. To then pull your body up, mainly use your lats. Keep your core engaged and your elbows in line with your body, they shouldn’t fly out. A helpful tip to avoid wings is to think about bending the bar or going through your little fingers.
The goal should be to lift your chin above the bar without stretching your neck and face up. Rather than focusing on your chin, it can be helpful to think about bringing your chest up towards the bar. Also, don’t move your hips or legs (called “kipping”) to build momentum to clear the bar.
After holding the pull-up at the top for a second, you should lower your body slowly, taking care not to load your elbows or shoulders. For a demo of a classic pull-up see the video below by movement for climbing:
If you can perform eight to ten conventional pull-ups with the proper form described above, it’s time to start exploring weighted pull-ups to continue making maximum strength gains. To add weight, simply attach weight plates or dumbbells with a strap to a carabiner, then attach that carabiner to your belay loop or the top tether point of your harness. As you increase your weight, it can be helpful to use a lifting pin like this one from Lattice Training. Climbers using heavy weights should swap their climbing harness for a dip belt for added comfort.
You’ll be surprised how much harder your pull-ups will be just by adding five, 10, or 20 pounds. Don’t be discouraged though. You will see significant strength gains in just a few weeks using the training protocol outlined below.
Some safety considerations are very important when performing pull-ups with weights:
- Warm up thoroughly beforehand using either assisted or unweighted pull-ups (in addition to the other mobility and stability exercises you typically use in your warm-up).
- Use a bar that is the right height for you. You should not jump to grab the bar to start the exercise. If the bar is too high, use a stable structure to stand on to reach the bar comfortably. You don’t want to trip and fall off a wobbly stool or box.
- Descend with control. You don’t want the extra weight to overload your elbows or shoulders. To avoid this, don’t get into an outstretched arm position at the bottom of the pull-up – keep a slight elbow in your arm.
Here is a good example of a DIY weighted pull setup:
This weighted pull-up workout by professional climber Cameron Hörst is great for increasing your maximum pulling strength over time. The workout includes five sets of five repetitions of weighted pull-ups. Rest time between sets is three to five minutes. Before adding this exercise to your routine, you will need to experiment to find out how much extra weight is right for you. For this 5×5 workout, you’ll want to use as much weight as you can add while doing seven to eight pull-ups with proper form.
To warm up for the 5×5, do two sets of bodyweight pull-ups followed by one set using 50% of the weight you will use in the 5×5. Then take five minutes of rest before beginning the workout complete. Your first three sets probably won’t be that difficult to complete. But by the fourth and fifth sets, your fatigue should be building and you should be fighting to complete your final reps. If sets four and five don’t sound hard to you, add five pounds to your next 5×5 workout. Do this workout twice a week and you’re guaranteed to see strength gains.
#Increase #maximum #strength #weighted #pullups #Gripped #Magazine