Q: I’m going to be applying for our department’s SWAT team. Part of the physical test is a 2 mile run and pull-up test. You got to do at least 2 pull-ups with 50 extra pounds. Problem is I can’t even do a pull-up with just my body weight. Sad, I know. Any way I can train to do a pull-up?
My Answer: If you are having problems doing pull-ups, then here’s how you should progress:
- Do you need to lose weight? Obviously if you are overweight, then that makes it harder for you to do pull-ups. So if you’re overweight, then embark on a fat loss program.
- If you can’t do any pull-ups, then you will need to do negative pull-ups to build up your strength:
3) Once you are able to do a pull-up, then you’ll need to do high frequency training to increase your pull-up endurance. Set up a pull-up bar at home and one at the office. Every time you pass by the bar you do a pull-up or two. Don’t go beyond 5 reps, just do a few reps each time you come to the bar. Essentially you’re practicing the skill of pull-ups as frequently as possible.
4) Once every 2 weeks test out your pull-up max. See how many pull-ups you can do in a single set. Once you can do more than 10 pull-ups, then start adding a little bit of weight. Add more and more weight over time till you reach 50 pounds.
You should find out how the weight is attached to you for the pull-up test. Is it 50 pounds in a rucksack? Or is it a 50 pound weight hanging off a weight belt? Are you doing pull-ups in full tactical gear?
You should find this out, because how the extra weight is distributed on your body is going to affect pull-up difficulty. The extra weight will shift your center of gravity, so pulling with a 50 pound kettlebell or dumbbell is going to feel very different from a 50 pound rucksack. So train accordingly.
One last bit of advice: increase your grip strength. Increasing your grip strength will increase your pull-up strength. If you do pull-ups on a thick bar, it will increase your grip strength. It is more difficult of course, but you will get more grip and pull-up strength development.
Train with a thick bar, and when you switch from a thick bar to a thin bar, you will be able to do way more pull-ups than before. A lot of people do pull-ups at the gym where the pull-up stations have thin one inch thick handles. But when they try to do pull-ups at a playground or jungle gym where the bars are thicker, they can’t do as many. So find out how thick the bar is for the pull-up test. You don’t want to be surprised.
If you don’t have access to a thick pull-up bar, then you can place Fat Gripz on a thin bar.