20 Pull-ups program


This program is based on principles required for successful physical improvement: VARIETY, OVERLOAD, and REGULARITY.

Regularity is very important for the success of every training program. By performing daily exercises as described here you will on your way to achieving your goal of 20 pull-ups in one set.

Morning push-ups routine

Pull-ups target mainly upper back muscles. For balanced development we recommend a complementary morning routine of 3 maximum effort sets of normal push-ups with 5-10 minutes rest between sets. Follow this routine for the entire length of the program. It will strengthen all your shoulder muscles and will help reduce muscle soreness during the first couple of weeks.

Training principles

  • The program is divided into five training days translated into a Monday through Friday schedule.
  • It is necessary to use consecutive days (don’t skip days) when on the pull-up routine.
  • It is important to rest two days, Saturday and Sunday.
  • We recommend that you do not attempt the pull-ups until 3 or 4 hours after the morning push-up routine.
  • Quality is more important than quantity – concentrate on perfect execution of each repetition.
  • Do not change the number of repetitions in a set during a training session.
  • It is more important to do the pull-ups than it is to do the push-ups.


The concept of training set

A training set is a specified number of repetitions, different for each individual. The number of repetitions must allow you to complete 9 consecutive sets with 60 seconds rest in between (this is the routine for day 3).

You can start with a training set derived from your initial test:

Initial test reps Training set reps
less than 12 1 or 2
12 to 15 2 or 3
more than 15 3 or 4

It is much more important to successfully complete 9 training sets of 1 repetition on Day 3, than it is to complete only 6-7 sets of 2-3 repetitions.

Ongoing adjustment

After a successful Day 3 routine, on Day 4 you can try to raise by 1 the number of repetitions in a training set. If you complete at least 9 sets, use the new training set for next week.

Be aware that in the first few weeks you may find that you are able to do fewer repetitions. This is a normal physiological reaction called teardown. As you continue, you will improve.

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