Whenever we teach the pullup, we tell our clients to “leave some in the tank.” We want people to practice technical failure and never grind out reps. Many clients take the approach of doing as many as possible and slowly add more bands or drop the weight throughout the work out.
As apart of my training program, I have to do 100 pullups through out the day. The goal is to do it in as few reps as possible without ever grinding out reps.
When I first started, it took me forever to get to 70 pullups. Ignoring the “never grinding out reps” rule, I would do as many as I could, burning out until I couldn’t pull myself up any more. In my first set, I could do eight. On my next set I would get around 7 and I would slowly fade throughout the day, banging out 3-4 on my last 2-3 sets to get to 70. I simply wasn’t recovering. I wasn’t learning. My work capacity sucked.
Fast forward 4 months. Now I bang out 8-9 reps per round, reaching the 100 mark in about 11 sets. I’m always conscience of my form and how I feel, I never grind out reps or reach failure.
Out of curiosity, I wanted to see how I would perform if I took 11 sets to failure. My hypothesis was that I would fade through out the day, ending up with a smaller total than the 100 perfect reps I was currently used to.
Not only did I get to 100, I did it in less sets. I totaled 104 reps in 10 sets. My sets were as follows:
12,10,10,9, 10, 11, 10, 11, 11, 10
So if my total reps was 12, I got fairly close to it every time without tiring through out the day.
So how did that happen?
Work capacity is defined as “the organism’s ability to tolerate and recover from stress applied to it.
My ability to produce a similar amount of reps over and over has improved dramatically through out the training program. I can now maintain a submax effort for longer, expend less energy doing the same amount of total reps (my overall weight has stayed the same) and recover in between sets.
So how do you get there?
Think about your weaknesses. Think about the fitness components you always ignore, the ones you skip and/or you always half ass.
There lies the answer.
Your ability to raise your own ceiling, or your ability to “do work”, lies in how well rounded you are. If you’re plateauing and have stopped seeing results in certain areas, it may be time to bite the bullet and start doing that aerobic work you’ve been putting off for months.
I’m not saying you have to run a lap to improve your pullups, but if you have any interest in producing the same output over and over again, you’re going to want to look into it. All recovery is aerobic in nature. If you want to improve your overall performance, you’ll need to embrace an all encompassing view of health. A good example is a math equation.
Your performance is an output, it is the final answer to a large equation. If you’re lacking in one area, you’re limiting how much the total number can grow.
Imagine rating these capacities on a scale of one to five, then multiplying all of them to find your level of performance.
Aerobic Capacity: 1/5
Psychological factors: 4/5
Now lets multiply them: 3 x 4 x 1 x 4= 48/625
Say you improve your strength to a 5/5
3 x 5 x 1 x 4 = 60/625
Sure, you’ve improved. But did you grow that much? You’re still only a 60 out of a possible 625.
Now lets say this person took the time and improved their weakness while maintaining their original strength, nutrition and psychological factors.
3 x 4 x 3 x 4= 144/625.
They’ve tripled their output.
Of course this isn’t space math or exact/actual numbers, but you get the point.
It is a good example that by working on your weaknesses, you can exponentially increase your performance.
I didn’t get better at pullups by just doing pullups. I improved my numbers because I am training all of my energy, nervous and muscular systems. This is proof that an all encompassing view on health and programming is the key to efficiency, longevity and performance.
Don’t believe us? Just ask these guys.
By: Matt Malloy