How To Train For Max Reps – Do More Pull Ups

One of the biggest problems I had when I started getting serious about calisthenics was my Max Reps. I was stuck at low reps of pull ups for ages.


More Than Lifting Pull Up How To Train Max Reps 

Getting good reps of pull ups is important, when you are at the top pull your elbows right back behind you.


Guys, I’m going to tell you now, pull ups are hard. If you haven’t been big on your training, you will probably struggle with pull ups. Some of my mates, who are strong fit guys, can’t do a lot of pull ups.


So even though I say you should be doing them all of the time, I understand that it can be difficult to smash out sets of 10.


When I was getting serious, I could only get 3 good wide ones!




It took a long time to get up to 10. Even now I fluctuate, if I’ve had a naughty evening down the pub with my mates, I probably wont hit sets of 10 solid.


So how do you actually increase your max reps?


What can you do if you only have 3 reps?


I am going to give you my six super exercises variations that will help you increase your reps quickly and effectively


Six Exercises To Increase Your Max Reps:


  1. Slow Reps
  2. 50-50s
  3. Isometrics
  4. Tweaks
  5. Explosive/Kipping
  6. Low Rep High Sets


Slow Reps


The first exercises is doing slow reps, 5 seconds each way. Doing this will improve the motion, because you are really working each muscle through the full movement.


The problem with Kip or rushed reps is you can get away with using some but not all of the muscles. You can’t cheat slow reps guys! This makes them great to mix up with kipped sets.




These are when you spring to half way, then spring to the full rep. You then do the same for the negative, Pop down to half way, then all the way down. At each point take a quick pause, a second or two, so a rep would go like this:


Up halfway, pause 1 second, up full rep, pause for 1 second, drop to half way, pause 1 second, down to the bottom, pause 1 second and repeat.


One thing you do want to be careful of when bouncing around like this, is that you stay in control. If you are flinging yourself about, you can injure yourself, so keep it controlled and make the movements explosive without jolting your joints.




One problem with max reps is losing form on the end of the set. you stop getting your chin up over the bar. A way to work this is to do top of the movement isometrics.


Pull right up, squeeze all the way as high as you can and hold it for 5 seconds, rinse and repeat.




Tweak reps are something I have coined for myself – i think – what you are doing is concentrating on certain muscles within the movement. This is a way to get more reps in towards the end of your set, especially if you are doing slow reps. This can seem a little confusing but I will try to explain.


Pull up slow, when you reach as high as you can get, halfway or so, turn your elbows in slightly to focus the force into your forearms and biceps. Then when you get as high as that will take you, turn your elbows back out to focus more on your back and shoulders again.


More Than Lifting Pull Ups Elbows In Tweaks 

Tweaks – Pull ups with your elbows in, when you get as high as you can pull your elbows out behind you


Moving within the exercise in this way will help reduce the pressure in certain parts of your body and it has really helped me to get a few more reps in when I am training.


Explosive / Kipping


Another way to get your reps up is to literally smash them out, no messing. Get them in as fast as possible, teach yourself to count higher than normal by getting a handful of bonus ½ reps or what ever, just get it in.


The more reps you do, the more reps you will be able to do, so keep your head down and get the reps in.


Kipping is naughty, but if you are just learning new tricks it can really help you get a few reps in. If you ask me in any other situation, kipping is a no no. However, if you are just learning muscle ups, do kipping muscle ups, don’t beat yourself up, you are teaching your body the movement.


Low Reps High Sets


This may seem counter intuitive, doing lower reps, but being able to reach 5, 6 or even 7 sets is going to really exhaust your muscles and promote lots of growth, which in turn will up your max reps.


Don’t go overboard with it, stay around 1/2 to 2/3 of your max reps and do as many sets as you possibly can


There are other ways you can up your rep game, but these variations or approaches to reps or sets will get you there good and fast.


Remember if you are trying to improve your max reps, you need to test it and find out what is working for you. We are all slightly different so what may work for me might not be as efficient for you.


Try these out, test them, track your progress and if you have any questions about your rep game, shoot me an email, it’s at the bottom of the page!


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