upper body

5 Ways to Challenge Your Pull Up

Do you remember the first time you did a pull-up? It was like the stars lined up, the clouds parted and the sun shined down upon you in a magnificent ray of light. No? Well, that's how I felt. Granted, I was in first-grade when this took place, so maybe take that with a grain of salt.

Either way, pull-ups have been a staple in the gym for a long time, and most people are already doing them (or at least want to be able to do them). But once you conquer the elusive first pull-up, where do you go from there?

Obviously, you practice and keep working on the original because you want to get better, but there comes a time and place when you would like a little variety -- a way to do pull-ups that keeps you engaged and excited about going to the gym.

Here are five ways to add variety to your pull-ups and keep the challenge fresh:

Interested in reading more?  Click the link below and checkout the rest of the article over at Livestrong:

5 Ways to Challenge Your Pull Up

about the author

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James Cerbie is just a life long athlete and meathead coming to terms with the fact that he’s also an enormous nerd.  Be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram for the latest happenings.

Steak and Potato Training: What Longhorn Steakhouse Can Teach You About Strength Training

Do you ever go out to eat and can’t decide what to get? You sit there for 20 minutes going back and forth between two different options, and suddenly a third option comes into the picture making it impossible to make a decision.

No?

Maybe that’s just me, but I’m a little crazy anyway.

When I go to my favorite restaurant, Longhorn Steakhouse, there is no question what I am going to get:  STEAK.  Obviously.  And a couple sweet potatoes on the side.

When I first started off in the weight room, I was that guy who was at a random restaurant and didn’t know what he wanted.  Now I'm that guy at Longhorn Steakhouse, and I know exactly what I want.

I bet you are probably questioning how I got to Longhorn.  Well gather round children, here we go! (Mario voice)

As you may already know, I compete in Strongman Competitions. I used to train for football, but now I train to lift weights.  Training for football still requires lifting heavy, but training for a competition requires heavy lifting in specific ranges of motion.

Football was not my Longhorn.  It was more of like a Red Robin to me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love and miss Red Robin, but Longhorn stole my heart.  At Red Robin my go to is a bacon cheeseburger, not a steak.  That’s because a bacon cheeseburger at Red Robin is better than their steak.

But now I’m at Longhorn.

Where’s my steak?

My point here is that when you are at different restaurants you order different things.  Same concept when it comes to training.  You do different training and diet programs when it comes to training for different end goals.

Squatting, it’s like brussels sprouts.  Whether I’m at Longhorn or at Red Robin, I’m not ordering them.  People might say they're good for you, but it’s just not worth choking them down anymore.

It fills me up and takes up room in my stomach.  Valuable room in which could be replaced with high quality nutrient dense foods.  Squatting hurts my knees, and if I ignore the pain and fight through it...it travels to my hips.

This negatively affects my other lifts, both in quality and volume. I bet you are sitting there and thinking how the hell did this guy become the national champion strongman?

I got strong and efficient in specific movements.  Not one event in strongman requires you to squat or have your femurs at or below 90 degrees.  I have tried, and I am still trying, to bring the squat back into my training.  I squat light and do single leg exercises to maintain full range of motion strength and to stimulate hypertrophy.

Deadlift is the big time lift that takes the place of squats.  Being able to deadlift pain free, I have worked my deadlift volume up to 3-5 times per week (depending on the phase).  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t squat.  I am saying that you can get strong as fuck without certain “main lifts.”

Maybe bench press is your brussels sprouts.  Your best bet would be to work the same muscles, but shorten the range of motion.  Floor press would be the deadlift to a squat; shorter range of motion but, working similar muscles.  Unless you are a competitive weightlifter, there is no problem. There is always an alternative.

Whatever lifts you choose to be your staples, make sure you can attack them day after day and remain pain free.  Accumulating volume is the secret to strength, but accumulating the volume in a safe and efficient way is the hard part.  Being able to dial up or dial down frequency and intensity at the right time is always crucial.  As long as you know what your end goal is, the process will be that much easier. Find your favorite restaurant, and go get steak every night.

How do you know if certain lifts are a bad idea?  You just know.  You know that the kid in the squat rack going down a quarter of the way isn’t onto something.  You know the guy in his 50’s screaming to get an extra rep on bench probably is not onto anything either.  If it looks and sounds bad, no doubt it's bad.

Just go ahead and watch this clip of the world record clean and Jerk. It looks effortless and beautiful and he’s petting 533lbs over his head.

Steak and Potato Exercises:  (available at any restaurant, quality guaranteed)

Lower:

Deadlift

Goblet Squat

Barbell Hip Bridge

Rear Foot Elevated Squat

Double and Single Leg RDL

Glute Ham Raise

Upper:

Deadlift

Pull Ups/Inverted Rows

Push Ups

Floor Press

Chest Supported Row

Half Kneeling Db Press

Core:

Deadlift

Round Back Breathing

Planks/buzz saws

Hanging Hold

Suitcase/Farmers Carries

Med Ball Break

What's your steak and potato exercise?  What's your brussels sprout?  Drop us a line below and let us know!

about the author

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Zach Hadge is a World Champion strongman, Super Mario Bro extraordinaire, and overall monster in both training and life. He’s here to show you the doors, to tell you when its time to grease the hinges, pick the lock, find a new door, or just bust the door down completely. The only other thing he asks for in return is effort.  Follow Zach on Instagram (@hadge_brothers) for all the latest happenings.

Mastering the Pull Up: Everything You Need to Know to Be A Boss on the Bar

It was that time of year again. The time of year I lived for as an adolescent— the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. If you’re anything like I was as a child, ala overly competitive and highly energetic, you probably remember this test. It was the one time over the course of the year to lay your stakes as the most athletic kid in the class. Tests included things like the mile (which I hated), the sit and reach test (my greatest nemesis), push ups, sits ups and of the course….pull ups.

I’m not entirely sure how things turned out when I was 7, but I vividly remember my effort as an 8 year old. I had managed to pass the other tests with flying colors, and the only remaining obstacle in my way was the pull up.

I stood there evaluating the bar at the beginning of PE class (the best time of the week), eagerly waiting my turn. My name is called and I hop up on the bar—all I needed to do was 5 lousy pull-ups and I’d get one of those cool t-shirts signifying my supremacy.

As I completed rep numero three, I realized I was screwed: my muscles only had enough left for one rep. Sure enough I finish the fourth rep and hang onto the bar for dear life, attempting to will myself to the fifth rep. I probably started flinging and kicking like someone lit a fire beneath me, but to no avail. The fifth rep just wasn’t going to happen (it probably didn’t help that I felt the need to do a few warm up sets to show how cool I was).

I dropped down from the bar completely devastated and stormed off—and thus my obsession with pull ups began.

Be sure to head on over and checkout the rest of the article at Schwarzenegger.com.  I go over any and everything you need to know to become a pull up jedi master.

The Greatest Push Up Article in the History of Ever

My good friend the push up seems to get no love these days. He’s been degraded in many circles to mere punishment, and often gets overlooked by gym goers for being “too easy” or not as sexy as the bench press.

Well I’m here to take a stand for my good friend the push up.  He’s plenty sexy and deserves your attention.

That’s a little snippet from an article I wrote for Tony Gentilcore last week, which just happened to pull in the #1 spot on the Personal Trainer Development Centers strength training articles of the week.

If you're still not sold, I go over all of the following:

How a push up is different than the bench press

Why the push up is really important

How to do a push up properly

How to regress a push up for someone just starting out

10 more advanced variations to challenge yourself with

Be sure to check it out below:

The Greatest Push Up Article in the History of Ever