20 Pull Ups Program Integrated with a Regular Training Routine

Posted September 25, 2008 in Workout Routines 28 Comments »
Pull Up Routine
Pull Up Routine

There is a neat new program at https://pull-ups-training.com/ that will help you increase your pull ups. Check it out then read this article.

Someone beat me to the punch. I was going to write a program like this based on what I saw at The 100 Push Ups Challenge, but I just didn’t make the time to do it. So what I will do instead, is to explain how to work this 20 Pull Ups program into your regular training routine so as not to sacrifice the rest of your muscles while on this program. Get ready for some 2-a-day workouts!

The premise of 20 Pull Ups is to combine several training methodologies throughout the week by doing several sets of pull ups each day. This is a 6-8 week program for those who can already do at least 5 pull ups. However, if you can’t do 5 pull ups, there is a slightly longer program that you can use, which incorporates assisted pull ups for the first 4 weeks. Either way, you should give this program a try if you want to be able to do more pull ups.

Notes on Lifestyle and Nutrition

If you follow the 20 Pull Ups program with my recommendation for morning workouts, make sure you get plenty of sleep each night, and make sure you are eating at least 5 small meals or snacks a day with plenty of protein. Post workout drinks are very important. Try Biotest Surge for a specially formulated post workout cocktail. Also attempt to throw back a gallon of water a day.

By the end of the 8 weeks you should be in some kind of superb shape if you follow these programs exactly as prescribed and live the type of healthy lifestyle that I am describing here.

The Pull Ups Workouts

This is a synopsis of the workout. For the details, visit the 20 Pull Ups website itself.

Day 1 – 5 sets, as many pull-ups as you can do.

Day 2 – An ascending pyramid, to which I previously dedicated an entire post here: Increase your pull ups by 50% in one day, and one max effort set.

Day 3 – 9 sets; 3 overhand, 3 close-grip chin ups, 3 overhand; all using a number of ‘training reps’ that were decided earlier in the week. I won’t get into the details of ‘training reps’ just go to the 20 Pull Ups website and read about it.

Day 4 – See how many sets of ‘training reps’ you can do, and adjust your ‘training reps’ accordingly if you can do more than 9 sets.

Day 5
– Choose the worst or hardest workout of the week and repeat it, trying to improve on your numbers.

Weekends – Off completely! No exercise what-so-ever unless it’s like hiking or some recreational stuff.

Reflection on 20 Pull Ups

This could potentially be an interesting program, but could potentially damage your progress on other muscle groups if you focus too much on pull ups and neglect legs, chest, shoulders, and core. Do not try to improve on anything else other than your pull ups while you are on this program; everything else should just be on maintenance phase for now.

Combining a Regular Training Program with 20 Pull Ups

It seems to me that the best way to utilize a program like this, is to do a regular workout in the morning Mon/Weds/Fri and a couple sets of push ups each morning on Tues and Thurs, then hit up your 20 Pull Ups routine at night. You would not ever train back or biceps in the morning, and you would want to take it easy on triceps too. Morning workouts should focus on legs, chest, shoulders, and core.

The Morning Workouts

Start with a warm-up. Then do 5 sets of 5 for the first exercise, 3 sets of 5 for the second exercise combo, and 2 sets of 7 for the third exercise combo. Combos should be done with minimal rest between exercise 1 and exercise 2. Rest 60 – 90 seconds between sets and combo sets.

Stretch for 10 minutes after your workout.

Do not forget your post workout shake within 20 minutes of the workout. This is especially important to get nutrient back into your body before the evening pull ups workout.

Do not be concerned if you don’t make significant progress on your regular workout routine. You may or may not lift an extra rep or an extra pound in each consecutive workout. If you do, GREAT, but most of the focus should be on improving your pull ups.

Day 1 – Squats, Incline Dumbbell Press & Calves, Dips & Abs

Day 2 – Max effort push ups as detailed by the 20 Pulls Ups program.

Day 3 – Bench Press, Lunges & Abs, Clean and Press & Calves

Day 4 – Max effort push ups as detailed by the 20 Pulls Ups program.

Day 5 – Deadlifts, Overhead Press & Calves, Skull-crushers (Lying French Press) & Abs

Weekends – Off completely! No exercise what-so-ever unless it’s like hiking or some recreational stuff.


Again, if you follow these two program exactly, combined with proper nutrition and plenty of sleep, after an 8 week period you should be able to do a TON of pull ups without sacrificing any other muscle groups. You should also be able to drop some significant body-fat due to the healthy lifestyle and the vast number of calories you will burn each day.

Please leave some comments and let me know how you fare with this program. If you would like me to use you as a case study, I would be happy to post your stats, pictures, and progress on Project Swole as a featured series, but you have to stick with it at all costs (except illness or injury) or I will berate you as a failure for wasting my time.

20 Pull Ups Training

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28 Responses to “20 Pull Ups Program Integrated with a Regular Training Routine”

  1. Steve, I’ll be done with the strength training and want to try the pull ups in combination with your suggested workout. My workout schedule is usually noon or afternoon (not mornings). I am planning on doing max effort push ups and pull ups same time and also want to add intermediate 20 sec sprints HIIT for 2 – 3 days. Would it be best to do HIIT with regular workouts or pull ups routine (Tues/Thurs)? Also, do I need to do less weight than what I’ve done in strength training routine?


    • I’d do the pull ups with HIIT. Not quite sure what you mean with the less weight question, but there is not often a good reason to use less weight. Hope that answers your question.

  2. I am starting this program tomorrow. I will be doing the push-ups 5x a week as the other site says. I do Muay Thai and BJJ 3-4x a week, so I think that will keep the rest of my body in good working order. I am able to do 7 reps of Eight wide arm pull-ups. I will post again in eight weeks.

  3. hey all i ve been doing pullups for a month now but not this workout
    i can go up to 20 pullups but i still feel its not enaugh because i only weigh 80 kgs :S. i train tusdayes and thurtdays at the gym after college and monday wensday friday i train mixed martial arts with a friend what is the best way to integrate this pullup routine to my training ? thank you and is it possible to reach a 30 pullup max if i train with this programme for like a month ?

  4. Would it be ok to do the pull-ups shortly after the morning routine, instead of waiting until the evening?

  5. Hey Steve, I’m thinking of starting this program in a couple of weeks, would it be ok to use this program with the “Increase your Squat by 100 pounds” program when I do squats on Mondays?

  6. Hey, i just started this workout because i love pull ups and their overall effect on the upper body. Although, i’m a very skinny guy and just wanted to know if this work out is gonna help me gain some muscle mass so that i’m not so skinny anymore!

  7. Hi Steve,
    I just came across your site because I am actually in week 8 of the pullup program on the same site and I was trying to find information on how long I should continue it. When I started my first day of pullups on the program, my five sets were: 5, 4, 2, 1, 1. Week 8 Day 1 numbers were: 9, 6, 4, 3, 3. I do the recommended 3 sets of pushups in the morning (using the Perfect Pushup) and try to add 1 pushup to my total every day. I’ve gone from 17, 12, 10 on my first day to 24, 23, 21 on my most recent day. On at least one of my off days I do a lot of leg training including squats, calf raises, toe raises, and hamstring exercises.

    I am a bit worried about overtraining and am probably going to take a week off or so from the pullup program. Should I rest fully with no workouts or, as I was probably going to do, train other parts of my body? Or would you recommend that I try your suggestion in this post after I finish this week, without taking a day off? Sorry for the long post.

    Thanks for any feedback,

    • Mark: If your body is telling you that you are overtraining, you should listen to it. An active recovery week might be in order. The active recovery should consist of very little, if any, weight training. Do some HIIT workouts or go play a sport like racquetball for the week.

  8. How about maintenance? I thinking of incorporating your concept of intergrating the pull-up routine with the workout program you’ve described, because I don’t want to completely forgo the other aspects of training. However, at the end of the 8 weeks, what is the best method or transitioning back into a normal full body training routine and maintaining the progress made from concentrating on pull-ups?

    Thanks for your input,

    • Brian: As long as you do your regular pull up and/or chin up training every week, you will probably continue to make small amounts of progress. This could be as little as 4 sets of weighted pull ups a week, 2 sets of chin ups twice a week, or alternating 2 sets of pull ups / 2 sets of chin ups on a 3-day full body workout routine. Just keep training and you should keep your gains.

  9. This training program is an excellent way to increase the number of pull-ups/chin-ups one can do. Within the eight weeks I have went from being able to do 15 or 16 maximum effort chin-ups to being able to complete 29 chin-ups maximum effort. That is in my opinion a very good outcome. An increase of about 13 chin-ups in just eight weeks.

    However, I didn’t lose or gain any weight, this was not my goal anyhow. Neither do I think that my arms have gotten any bigger, if so just a little bit, this also was not my goal. However, they have gotten much harder/tighter. Which I think is better then having them get larger anyways.

    If you follow this program you are bound to get results. Here are just a few friendly tips: I can not stress enough how important it is to receive proper nutrition and sleep. I would get about 8 hours of sleep every night, minimum. Also, if you do not have protein shakes, which I do not, there are plenty of ways to compromise. What I did was drink half a litre of milk which contains 16 g of protein and eat a whole-wheat peanut butter sandwhich.

    Steve, this site has inspired me to become a healthier person. It is great, keep up the good work. Theres just so much great advice on here. I look forward to trying other things you have posted, while maintaining things I have already done. I wish I had you as my own personal trainer. I just wanted to let you know that I am grateful for everything you have done, all the time and effort you put into this site really is awesome.

  10. I started this program today and will follow it for the full 8 weeks and see what the results are. I am currently 14 years old, 5’8″ and weigh 120-125 pounds. Prior to this program I could do from 15-16 max effort, fully extended reps. I will post the results in 2 months at the conclusion of the program.

    I’m not posting my info or results because I want to be featured or show-off. Firstly, I am doing this workout routine because I want to get into better shape, not that I’m out of shape. Secondly, I am posting the results so that people who would like to better themselves using this program will see how it can improve what you may already be able to do.

  11. A few questions:
    1) Wouldn’t doing chin-ups for 5 days/week overtrain my arms/back muscles?
    2) Do I have to do the inital push-ups even if I’m already on a separate push-up workout?


    • Amir:
      1) Eventually you will overtrain if you do hundreds of sets of chin-ups every week. Short term it will be more of a shock to your system, which will in turn force an adaptation.
      2) If you are concerned about overtraining your arms and back, why would you also be doing a push-up workout? Maybe you should do that push up workout on Tues and Thurs?

  12. I’ve been doing the https://pull-ups-training.com/ routine for 14 weeks and have gone from 2 to 12 pull-ups in a max effort set. I feel great about it but feel like I’m neglecting other muscle groups. I’m going to start supplementing with the morning work out you’ve described. This is exactly the direction I’ve been looking for. Thanks!

  13. So, you don’t think it’s too much chest/tricep work to do the push ups on Tuesday and Thursday? Right before and after your heavy bench day?

    Should I do the push ups every day as proscribed by the 20 pull up program?

    Thanks for this program, and for answering the question when you get to it.

  14. ha steve i would like 2 do this type of workout because i am a 37yrs old skinny man i been trying for like a year or so 2 gain some chest and arm muscle would this program work for someone like myself that a type one diabetic

  15. Dominic:
    There is plenty of tricep work in there. Your back and biceps are covered by the pull up routine.

    I also used to go heavy on my back, doing 3-5 rep weighted pull ups. After a while my back got pretty strong, but I was always still stuck at 15 or so consecutive reps. This program is geared more towards increasing the number of pull ups you can do, rather than increasing your pull up strength or the size of your back muscles. Of course you will definitely enhance your V shape by completing 8 weeks of this program.

  16. I read your work out routine and i have a quick question, when do i incorporate any back or arm workout within the 5 day pull routine or is the pull up routine my back/arm routine. I say this because i have been training for pull up by going HEAVY on my back and arms days.

  17. Great post, this is a hard workout, but No Pain no Gain right?
    My workout is based on strength training, low rep and heavy Weight, i just do pull-up in my shoulder and dorsal day 4to6X2..and in my arms day i do chin-up 4to6X2 with additional weight,then in some weeks i focus more in my laziest muscle ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Gain Muscle Size

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