Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pullup Program - Starting Tomorrow

So you want to improve the number of pullups you can do huh! Well, me too! Pullups are tough (yes I know, very tough). Right now I can do about four narrow grip pullups, two wide grip pullups and eight chin-ups, but I am not really happy about those numbers. Would like to up the numbers. Ideally I would love to be able to do 20 pullups of each type but have been struggling to improve the numbers.

Also, if you CANNOT DO ANY PULLUPS, no problem, you can also start doing this program, but just do the program using assisted pullups (e.g. with a chair) OR by doing negatives i.e. jumping onto the bar and then slowly lowering yourself down. Do note that pullups are important for building back muscles and are probably the king of all upper body exercises (second only to power-ups). So anyway, what is the program?

The Armstrong Program

So I am going to try to do the Armstrong Program developed by Major Charles Lewis Armstrong. The program is a five day a week program which means you are going to be doing pushups and pullups Monday to Friday. Sounds great right? A detailed description of the program can be seen @ The Armstrong Pull-up Program. A summary of the program is below:

Every day: Wake up and do three maximum repetition pushup sets. Start doing pullups two to three hours after the pushups

Day 1: 5 x maximum effort sets - rest 90 seconds between sets.

Day 2: Pyramid sets - rest 10 seconds between sets. Start doing pullups with the first set having 1 rep, the second set having 2 reps, the third set having 3 sets etc. until you miss a set. That is, when you finish round four with 4 reps, if in the fifth set you can only do say 2 reps, you have missed a set. Rest and then do a maximum effort set.

Day 3: Training Set Day - rest 60 seconds between sets.  Do nine training sets, the first three with your hands in normal position, the three sets with your hands in a narrow grip position and the last three with your hands in a wide grip position.

A training set means you are able to complete the 9 sets you are meant to be able to do on this day. My starting training set will probably be 1 rep. But it is a start.

Day 4: Maximum Training Sets - do as many perfect form training sets until you fail. Rest 60 seconds between sets.

Day 5: Repeat the most difficult - so whatever was the most difficult day for you in the previous four days, repeat that day.

Day 6 & Day 7: Rest days. Take a break and then repeat the cycle.

So a good video introduction of this program is shown below.

So who is in? Who will be joining me? Good luck!


  1. How about rest days? After 3 days I'd need some recovery. Or just take a day off when needed?

    1. No - do Day 1 ~ Day 5 and then Day 6 & Day 7 rest. Good question. I will modify the post to specify as such. Thanks for the feedback and looking forward to going on this fitness journey with you :)

  2. Okay, I'm in. Managed 3-3-3-2-2. Missed the morning pushups bit, but will start putting those in tomorrow.

    About hand positioning...

    Narrow - hands right next to each other
    Normal - shoulder width apart
    Wide - elbow width when arms are stretched out parallel to the ground

    is that correct?

    1. Well done Peter - hand should be shoulder width apart - I couldn't start because of a recent shoulder injury - my niece jumped off a hih bar the other day _ I wasn't ready and twisted while catching her... :( will start as soon as the pain resides.

    2. Hey Peter - how was your day 2. I finally started this morning.

      73 Pushups - 25, 20, 17, 11

      19 Pullups - 6, 4, 3, 3, 3

      3 Chin-ups - 3

      How was your day 2

    3. Day 2: Managed 1-2-2.5 then did pushups
      Day 3: Did the full routine with a single, good form rep each time, followed by pushups.

      My back is stiff, muscles are tired. Good feeling.

    4. Good stuff Peter - keep strong :)I did day 2 today 53 pushups in the morning then 1,2,3,4,2,3 :) will do day 3 tomorrow.