Added On September 25, 2011
Increase Your Pull-ups And Dips By Using The "Grease The Groove" Technique
I remember the first time I tried pull-ups and dips - I got exactly one pull-up and three dips. I think that many of you have been in a similar situation. In order to increase my pull-up numbers I used the famous Grease The Groove method which was popularized by the famous Russian strength coach Pavel Tsatsouline. The main principle behind Grease The Groove (GTG) is to think of the pull-up and the dip as a skill which requires everyday practice.
Here's how GTG works.
Let's say that you can only do one pull-up with good form. In order to increase your numbers you will have to do pull-ups more often. So, you start doing one pull-up 8 to 10 times a day with at least one hour between each pull-up. You keep doing that for 5 consecutive days. It will feel pretty easy but don't go crazy and keep it simple - only 8 to 10 pull-ups a day. After those 5 days take two days off and test your max. You should be able to do 2-4 pull-ups with good form. In case you got only two pull-ups you continue with the same program for another 5 days but instead of doing only one pull-up you will do one pull-up followed by another rep with 30 - 60 seconds between the two reps. You do 1 rep rest 1 min and do 1 more rep. That way you will double your workload. After 5 days take two days off and test your max again. I'm pretty sure you will be able to do 4 pull-ups.
After you are able to do 4 reps your working sets will consist of 2 reps. So you keep doing the same program - 2 reps - 8 to 10 times a day with at least one hour between sessions. However this time I would recommend to perform your workouts only four times a week. Also take one rest day after two consecutive working days. Test your max after two weeks on this program - you might get 6 to 8 reps which is pretty good. After that the procedure is the same - cut your max in two in order to find your working sets and perform 8 to 10 sets a day four times a week. Keep in mind that once your working sets get to 5 or more reps you can reduce the sets to 6 or 8 every day.
I usually don't recommend staying on GTG for more than 2 to 6 weeks depending on your strength level. For example a set of one pull-up is not that demanding even if that's your max. However if your working sets are 6 reps or above you might overtrain especially if you do GTG more than four times a week. Keep it simple - 2 to 6 weeks. Listen to your body and back-up once you feel the slightest symptoms of overtraining. You should never feel tired after a set.
Also don't forget to modify the rest of your upper-body workout. It would be stupid to do GTG for pull-ups and at the same time perform lat-pulldowns, rows or other back exercises. Remember that your current focus are the pull-ups. The principle for dips, horizontal rows... is the same as the presented pull-up program.
GTG In One Line: Test your Max. Cut It In Half. Perform 6-10 sets 4-5 Days a Week.
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