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More Training Info > Floor Assisted Pullups

Floor Assisted Pullups

C. Schurman, CSCS

Printed also in Seattle Mountaineers' Cliff Notes, 9/00 issue of Sports Etc.

�Tis the season for climbers to master the pull up? Don�t worry, the floor assisted pull up demonstrated here can be performed by just about anyone without needing a partner or assistance from a spotter. Because pullups allow you to move most of your body weight upwards, they more closely resemble actual climbing movement than exercises you might do on a lat pull machine where you draw a bar down to your chest. However, most people find the regular pull up exercise to be rather daunting, if not impossible. If your goal is to increase upper body strength this off-season, make sure you include one of the following variations in your strength program.

See also Ladder Training to Increase Pullups

What You NeedLow chin-up bar, playground bars, or barbell secured in squat rack at chin level

How to Perform It: Stand facing the bar with palms facing forward (pronated) and shoulder width apart, feet directly underneath your hips. Hang down so arms are nearly straight, with torso under bar and nearly vertical, then, using only as much assistance from your legs as needed, pull yourself back up until your chin clears the bar. Keep your torso vertical and abdominals tight throughout the exercise so that you prevent arching or hyperextending the back. Although completing this exercise with a pronated grip is a little harder than its cousin the chin-up (palms supinated, or facing the chest,) in rock climbing nine times out of ten your hands will be facing forward.

How to Include It: Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions to increase upper body muscular endurance for the first three weeks, with about 60-90 seconds of rest between sets. If you start to feel any elbow strains this season, put at least 48 hours between climbing days and pull up days, and include reverse curls with dumbbells to strengthen opposing muscle groups in the arms.

Variations on a Theme: After 3-4 weeks, try what's called your 1-repetition maximum and see if you are able to do a full bodyweight pull up on your own. If you can, keep going and see how many you can do with good form. 2) Try having only one foot touching the floor at a time so you are less likely to use your legs for help. 3) Try splitting legs out wide and only letting tops of toes touch, rather than soles of the feet, so that you will use more arm strength. 4) Try doing partial repetitions by keeping a slight bend in your elbows instead of releasing all the way down. 5) Once every 7-10 days or so, do negatives: start with chin above bar and feet totally off the floor and take as long as possible to slowly lower body all the way to straight arm hang.Once you can lower your bodyweight for 30-45 seconds, you should be able to do several pullups on your own!

As always, before beginning a new conditioning program, consult your physician. Remember to perform strength training moves for the whole body at least twice a week, allowing 48 hours of recovery time between sessions. If you currently suffer from any chronic lower back soreness or other sport-related injury, consult your doctor, physical therapist, or conditioning coach.


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