Now that I don’t have another kettlbell certification to worry about for another year or so, I decided to take the time to structure the weighted pull up training that was originally programmed for me via Karen Smith. I wanted to discuss a training tip today that I learned from that Master Herself when it comes to Ironing out your Iron Maiden Challenge (or Beast Tamer challenge for you dude types ).
Enter Ye the Drop Set.
You will first have to find your current 1 rep max. Don’t be shocked if that is significantly LIGHTER than any other weight that you can press. When I first began my weighted pull up training, I started with a 16kg for my 1 rep max, and I could easily press the 24kg at that point last July. Once you find your max, you will then set up a drop set to your 3 rep max then 5 rep max.
So, for me when I started, my drop set pull up session looked like this.
1 Pull Up at 16kg
3 Pull Ups at 12 kg
5 Pull Ups at 8kg.
I did 3 sets of the above drop set until my strength increased enough to manage more weight. You will want to tweak these pull up numbers based on your particular strength levels. Also, make sure you are engaging your lats and abs and are NOT relying on your trap muscles for this pull. Trust me, the last thing you want is a terrible stiffness in your neck from heavy pull ups. The hollow position is your best friend on the weighted stuff, and you can read more abut why that is the case here.
Within a few months, you may want to rearrange the drop set ladder to a 1 rep, 2 rep, and 3 rep max. About 6 weeks out from my Level II, I revamped my own drop set to the tune of the following.
1 pull up at 20kg
2 Pull Ups at 16kg
3 Pull Ups at 14kg.
I did 3 rounds of this and realized that I was able to hit the 24kg soon after. Gnarly!
Let’s talk about WHY this works. Once you’re strength is up to speed with the 1,2,3 ladders, You’ll notice that you have a significant volume of lifting here. In 1 round of the above drop set, you are moving a total of 94 kilos (206.8 pounds for those of who you need the conversion). That is WELL above a 24kg (53 pounds) weight. Done three times in a row your total volume per workout is 620.4 pounds (or 282 kgs for those that prefer the metric system 😉 ). In short, that’s A LOT of effing weight to pull! The more your body adapts to this sort of stressor, the more likely you will be able to get a mere 53 pounds above the bar with ease. Trust me, this right here is GOLD in terms of your programming, so make sure every rep is solid and you can get your throat to the bar.
Now, the question I always seem to get on this sort of programming is “how long will it take for me to nail this lift?”. Well , that depends. In my own case, I was able to get a 24kg weighted pull up in practice within 12 weeks starting at a 16kg max. I should note that I am a very unusual person who finds gaining strength to be easy. Individual differences will rear their head in terms of the time it takes to successfully get your 1 rep max up to speed, so please, be patient. It may take you 12 weeks. It could take you 12 months or longer. stay the course, no matter what. I’m 3 years into perfecting these three lifts, so believe me. I know it can be frustrating. But don’t lose hope. Once you nail it in practice, it’s all about making it consistent and damn sexy 😉
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