The pullup is arguably the most difficult Calisthenic exercise. If you are out of shape you likely will not be able to do a single pullup. Unlike most exercises you have to train specifically to do pullups. Pulling your chin up above the bar for the first time is an accomplishment. To get to the point where you can do multiple reps requires discipline, determination, and perseverance.
Elite Army forces around the world require candidates to perform pullups. The typical minimum number of reps theses elite soldiers can do per set is more than 10 and closer to 20. Training to 50 reps requires one to train specifically for the pullup following a program like the Armstrong Pullup Program.
How To Do 50 Pullups Using The Armstrong Pullup Program:
- When Were Pullups Invented?
- Why Should You Do 50 Pullups?
- The Armstrong Pullup Program
- Morning Exercise
- Training Schedule
- Day 1: Five Maximum Effort Sets
- Day 2: Pyramid Day
- Day 3: Multiple Grip Sets
- Day 4: Max Sets To Failure
- Day 5: Repeat The Hardest Day
- Modifications To The Program
When Were Pullups Invented?
To the best of our knowledge, Greco-roman soldiers used the pullup in their conditioning. There is also evidence that suggests the pullup and other bodyweight exercises were used in Egypt and India. What we do know is the modern pullup and chinup originated in Prussia in the late 1700s, popularized by Johann Bernhard Basedow.
Why Should You Do 50 Pullups?
It’s a feat of strength to be able to do a few pullups in a row. Getting to 50 pullups is a journey worth taking. The more reps you do the stronger your back, chest and arms become. 50 pullups is an aggressive target but it is achievable. If you follow the Armstrong Pullup Program you will find yourself building your reps in no time.
The Armstrong Pullup Program:
The Armstrong Pullup Program was developed by Major Charles Lewis Armstrong. He designed this workout to help him prepare to set the world record for the most pullups in a single session.
In order to gain more reps and reach the goal of 50 pullups, you will have to adhere to a strict schedule for a number of months before you reach 50. Any break from the program will slow you down so be as consistent as possible.
It is good practice to wake up, hit the floor, and do as many pushups as you can in one set. This may not be practical for everyone, but Major Armstrong was adamant that pushups be performed every morning during training. While you are training to do 50 pullups it is important that you do 3 sets of pushups, each set being comprised of as many reps as you can possibly do. Taking a break between the 3 sets (eating breakfast or taking a shower) is essential to doing the highest number of reps possible.
The pullup is performed with the palms facing away, the chin up is performed with the palms facing towards you. Most people will find the chinup easier than the pullup. When you first start training, mixing chinups and pullups until you are able to do 20 reps of each will help you reach your goal.
Day 1: Five Maximum Effort Sets
Perform five sets, each set to failure (until you can’t do any more). Rest for 90 seconds between sets. Focus on performing the exercise with proper form over number of reps.
Day 2: Pyramid Day
A pyramid set starts with a set of one rep, then two, then three, continuing on until you miss a set. Rest 10 seconds for each rep in the previous set. Once you miss a set, perform one final set to failure.
Day 3: Multiple Grip Sets
Do three sets with palms away (pullups). Do three sets with palms toward you, hands 4 inches apart. Do three more sets with palms away. Rest 60 seconds between sets.
How many reps per set?
If you only do 12 repetitions on Day 1, do one or two reps per set on Day 3. Day 3 has a total of nine sets so adjust your reps accordingly to ensure you are able to complete all nine sets.
Day 4: Max Sets To Failure
This day is based on the reps used the previous day. If doing 1-2 reps per set Day 3, do the same number of reps Day 4. Rest 60 seconds between each set and perform as many sets as you can until failure.
Day 5: Repeat The Hardest Day
If you found all of the days hard perform Day 1 again, otherwise perform the day you found the hardest.
It is important to rest for two days after you complete Day 5. Rest is just as important as training!
Modifications To The Program
It’s more important that you do the proper number of sets than a high number of reps in the beginning. You may not be able to do one pullup or one chinup. If this is the case you can hang, flexed arm hang, or perform negatives.
Negatives are performed by standing on something that allows you to hold your head above the bar, you then slowly lower yourself down to the ground. A negative engages the same muscles used in a pullup, and after doing enough of them you will find yourself able to do your first pullup.
If you follow this program you will eventually reach 50 pullups. Why not try to conquer 200 pushups as well?
*Always consult a medical professional before engaging in any exercise program.