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13 Training tips to Relieve Knee Pain

14308297 - male athlete on floor clutching knee and hamstring in excruciating pain on white background

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Knee pain is miserable, especially when you’re trying to build a bad-ass, athletic body. And chances are if you routinely lift heavy, jump, and sprint, then your knees have barked at you a time or two.

Even more frustrating, knee pain occasionally comes out of nowhere to throw a wrench in your training, making life and lifting miserable. But, should your knee pain be a sporadic pain in the ass, it’s time to get rid of it. First, get checked out by a doctor if you think the injury is serious.  This blog is not meant to treat, cure, or prevent an injury, but only speaks to my experience as a coach and athlete. Moving on. 

This article gives you the tools to get your knees healthy, so you can get back to crushing your workouts. 

And if you’re one of the lucky few who’s never battled knee pain?

Even better. Follow my lead, and you’ll be a lot less likely to bust up your knees while still building and strong, athletic body.

Here’s a list of training tips to relieve knee pain for your workout repertoire.

Change your Jumps

Jumps are excellent for staying athletic and powerful.

The problem?

Jumps are stressful on the knees, especially multi-response jumps and broad jumps.

Multi-response jumps are multiple jumps performed in rapid succession, rather than one at a time. The problem here isn’t always the jump, but fatigue and a breakdown in technique. Most lifters rush their technique and end up minimizing hip and knee flexion on landing, shocking the joints rather than absorbing impact through the muscles.

Broad jumps are a standing long jump. While great for explosive horizontal power, lots of lifters only jump out, instead of up and out. If you just jump out without a focus on getting vertical height, you subject the knees to tons of shear stress at high speeds. No Bueno!

Either drop broad jumps if you have knee pain or focus on jumping “up” as much as out, with a low volume of two sets of three jumps.

Knee Friendl(ier) Jumps

Static Jumps:
Static jumps require you to start loaded, just like the bottom of a squat before jumping. In this position you negate the storage of elastic energy, making the static squat jump a great way to build static strength and explosiveness.

Plus, since there’s no countermovement, the jump is less complex. This minimizes the chance of poor takeoff and landing technique, like the knees diving in (valgus collapse).

Box Jumps: Box jumps offer a reduced stress on impact due to the box while allowing you to work on technique. Pause and stick each landing, then step off onto a shorter box. Don’t be one of those nimrods jumping backwards off the box for time, that’s idiotic and a good way to jack up your shins, not your vertical. 

Medicine Ball Back Toss: While not an actual jump, back tosses use the same explosive hip extension pattern as jumps. They’ll still get you explosive and athletic, but with much less stress on your knees. 

Hip and Glute Activation Warm-Up

One problem with sitting on our asses all day is that it decreases muscle activation in the hips and glutes.

Not only does this zap us of booty gains and more Jessica Biel-esque backsides (which is a terrible thing for Mankind in general), it’s a recipe for knee and back pain. 

So, in the best interest of humanity, knee pain, and back pain, spend more time activating your dormant glutes. 

During your warm-up, hit gluteus maximus and gluteus medius activation. This provides greater support to the knee (and lumbar spine) once it’s time to workout.

Pick one exercise focused on hip extension and one exercise on abduction and add them to your warm-up for 1 set of eight reps each. Instead of rushing, pause and hold position at the end range of every rep for activation.

Hip Extension Exercises (primarily gluteus maximus, also the hamstrings):

2:1 Supine Hip Thrust:

Hip Thrust:

Quadruped Hip Extension:

Hip Abduction Exercises: (Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus, and Tensor Fascia Latae)

Clamshell: Bonus points for gazing into the eyes of passersby:

Lateral Band Walk:

Quadruped Fire Hydrant:

Hit the Bike

I get a ton of clients recovering from knee injuries via local PT’s and soft tissue practicioners. One habit working across the board for knee pain and performance is hopping on the bike for 10 minutes before training.
Activation drills are great, but we tend to fall in love with mobility and stability drills at the expense of basic warm-ups.
Before your training, spend a few minutes increasing body and tissue temperature while lubricating the knee joint on the bike.
Wear layers to speed up the process, break a light sweat on the bike, then move onto your activation drills and dynamic warm-up.

Improve Hip and Ankle Mobility

It makes perfect sense: When our knees hurt, we should focus our attention on the knee, right?
Not exactly.
With most injuries, problems can originate above or below the joint. In this case, a lack of mobility through the hip or ankle can be the root cause.
Hip and ankle mobility are common struggle points across the board. Thus, it would behoove oneself to improve hip and ankle mobility for performance and injury reduction.

Try these mobility drills out as part of your warm-up.



Wall Ankle Mobilization:

Put ya Thang Down Flip it and Reverse it

Yes, this is a Missy Elliot line, but I’m talkin’ about lunges. Forward walking lunges and short stance split squats lead to higher tibial inclination and shear stress. That’s a complicated way of saying the further your knee goes over your toe, the more stress there is on the knee. Now, that doesn’t mean the knee tracking forward is a bad thing, far from it. But, if you suffer from knee pain, I’ve found it best my clients reduce shear stress.
In the first picture, the knee pushes further forward over the toe when stepping forward. This hits the quads harder, my stresses the knee.
When knee pain strikes, reverse the movement to keep a vertical shin.

Deload and Change Stances

A lot of injuries are the result of never backing off exercise intensity or changing movement patterns. To be a strong badass, you shouldn’t be a one-trick pony. Get strong with multiple techniques of the big lifts.
If you’re a powerlifter it’s fine to specialize. Otherwise, change foot position, bar position, and technique on your lifts to eliminate weak points and imbalances. I wrote a full article on micro progression here.

Otherwise, follow a periodized program like and back-off heavy weights every six to eight weeks.
To eliminate the confusion, follow a program like my Power Primer 2.0 to make consistent, injury free gains.

Widen your Squat Stance

In narrow and high bar squats, the knee tends to pass the toe, increasing, shear stress at the knee. Unless you’re blessed with exceptional dorsiflexion and genetics, this can add up to excess stress and pain.

It’s a double-edged sword, but widening your stance and externally rotating your feet shifts loading to the hips and lower back. This hammers your glutes, hamstrings, and adductors, but also stresses your hip and lower back joints. In excess, neither is good, so switch up your squat stance to prevent overuse at any particular joint.

Hip Dominant and Hamstring Work First

Since deadlifts are more hip dominant, you’ll decrease shear stress at the knee while giving the glutes and hamstrings a huge training effect. Since most of us train what we see in the mirror (hi abs and biceps), anterior-posterior balances are common. Deadlifts and posterior chain dominant exercises fix that in a hurry.
Still, be careful and note how your knees react, as compressive loading during deadlift lockouts is still stressful. If this is the case, test out stability ball hamstring curls for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps before training, or avoid axial loading for a few weeks. 

Do Reverse Sled Drags

Sled Drags are one of the best ways to build massive quads without aggravating your knees. Use them before, during or after training for pain-free quad training and building massive legs.
You’re able to hit a huge training volume without a ton of joint pain as there is no eccentric stress. You’re pulling a sled against weight and the resistance of friction, making reverse sled drags one of the best pain-free quad builders.

Front Squats Instead of Back Squats

On one hand, front squats use a narrow, quad dominant stance that leads to more shear stress than most wide-stance back squats.
But, you’ll use less weight and thus, decrease compressive stress on the knee.
This provides an interesting trade-off. Every knee is unique, and some people struggle with heavy compressive loading whereas others have pain from greater shear stress.
Nothing in training is absolute and what works for me might not work for you.

But, the decrease in loading (and compressive stress) might let you train hard without knee pain. 

Add Single Leg Work

Single leg work is tricky. Too much, and you’ll overstress the knee.
But, more often than not, years of heavy squats and deadlifts have left you ripe with asymmetries and imbalances that if unattended, trigger pain and injuries.

I’d advise first getting to the point when your knee pain is no longer present. Then, add single leg work back in to address your weak points. 

Unilateral exercises like lunges, single leg RDL’s and pistol squats attack these imbalances by:

-Increasing balance and proprioception
-Training the lateral subsystem and knee stabilizers (adductors, abductors, deep spinal stabilizers)
-Providing a change of pace in your training

Start with reverse lunges and long-stance split squats. Then, use exercises like 2:1 accentuated eccentric pistols to a box to improve muscle activation and eccentric control.

Possible Supplementation to Improve Joint Health and Inflammation Markers

Make sure you’re covering your foundational basics first. That means sleep, eating high-quality food, and focusing on recovery. 90% of the time, this is what’s missing.

But, in the case you’re looking for an extra boost, these supplements might help.

  • Glucosamine and chondroitin (for their possible joint-regenerating effects). I like Stronbone from Onnit.
  • Fish oil supplements (to help balance fatty acid profile, battle inflammation, and arthritis)
  • Curcumin (to battle inflammation and soreness)

Admittedly, research is all over the board on joint supplements, but when I’m in pain I’m willing to test supplements that “might” make a difference. This is your call. 

Reduce stress, sleep, and eat well first, but understand joint stress is part of the game with heavy training and you might need to an extra hand.

If it hurts, for the love of god stop doing it.

A few years ago, I was sprinting, jumping, cleaning, and squatting heavy on the regular. Even after a chronic knee injury, I kept slamming my head into the wall.

One of the best lessons I learned from Coach Loren Landow was to take my ego out of it.
Amidst my bitching, he asked, “If your client had the same injury, would you do (insert exercise)?”

The lights went off.

Ask yourself the same question. If you don’t have clients, pretend you’re programming for your mom.

Even if you “win” and tough it out with a steady dose of Advil and Biofreeze, you’ll lose the long game.
Remember, what goes around comes around, especially when training through pain.

Don’t be a hero, no-one cares about the time you squatted through pain when you’re laid up after getting a scope and looking stone-eyed at three months of rehab.

Training Tips to Train Around Knee Pain

These exercises and tips aren’t only for those of us with bad knees, they’re essential in prevention. After all, the best way to prevent pain in the first place to take proactive steps. Anf if you think an injury is serious make the smart move and go see your doctor. And that means knee friendly training to stay healthy and performing like an athlete for the long-haul.

P.S. I know this was a ton of information. If you found it useful, please share and pick up a quick and easy knee prevention guide. It’s Free.

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How to get Shredded for Summer

shredded doorway

Can you lose fat and get shredded in 30 days? 

I’ll cut to the chase. The answer is “yes, you can still get shredded this summer. ”

But it raises the summer dilemma: choosing between getting shredded for the beach and the delights of beer and barbecue.

What does all this have to do with the choices we make on the road to becoming our best selves? Everything, as I recently discovered. My choices were starker than most, at a time my training had stagnated. I had to undergo the rigors of hard dieting for a recent photo shoot.

What I learned along the way was a revelation. And it can help you. Because I’m a lot like you: imperfect.

Here’s my story. It concludes with how I can help you apply what I learned. You, too, can get shredded fast.  

So please read until the very end.


Willpower is a Finite Resource

Willpower is the power to create change, even when you don’t want to.  

It’s the grit to suck it up and head to the gym at 5:00 am, even though you didn’t get to sleep until midnight.

Or switching to club soda after a single beer when your buddies are still ordering round after round of the good stuff.

And while these all appear like simple decisions, they’re not easy. Examples include your decision to take the train instead of driving to work. Or picking out your outfit. Or deciding what to eat for lunch (mmmm broccoli.)

My surprising suggestion? Automate.  Here’s how:

Set a morning routine and stick to it. For me, this is waking up and heading to the gym for 30 minutes of low-intensity cardio. After a few days, it’s  no longer a decision. It’s just something you do.

Set a deadline. How far away is that wedding or special event for which you want to look your best?  Start working towards it. If there’s no event or deadline, create one! This will encourage you to say no to the chicken and waffles temptation and stick with the egg white frittata.

Prepare. An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t change to accommodate your decision to change your body. Like you, I went to a Memorial Day cookout. My friends were hanging in the pool, playing beer pong, and crushing handfuls of chips, burgers, and dogs.No, it wasn’t fun passing on a good time, but I made the best of it. I prepared for the razzing by telling told most of my friends I wouldn’t be drinking. Any shit-talk was over and dead before we got there. Then, I made a few steaks —  enough to be part of the event without being the macro-counting dweeb in the corner.  

Increase Training Frequency

Train more to get better results. Duh! It’s hard to beat this for a statement of the obvious.  Less obvious is why this is so: momentum and physiology.

First, training more reinforces your goal. We’ve all missed workouts. Suddenly, one missed workout turns into to two and you realize you’ve eaten like shit for a week. Keep the momentum going in the gym and good decisions expand from there. Hit foam rolling sessions or cardio between lifts. Warm up. Do something — anything —  to build momentum.

Second, increase the physiological responses to training. That means you’ll activate muscles and burn stored carbs and body fat more often. Since muscles contract with training, you’ll increase protein synthesis to hold onto lean muscle. You’ll increase exercise post oxygen consumption (EPOC), leading you to burn more calories when you’re resting.

Try four 30-45 minute lifting workouts, two high-intensity conditioning workouts, and two low-intensity cardio workouts builds momentum maximize discipline and accelerate fat loss.

Example Week

Monday: Upper Body Push

Tuesday: Low-intensity CV, 30 minutes, P.M: Low Sprint

Wednesday: Upper Body Pull

Thursday:  Lower Body

Friday: Sprint

Saturday: Total Body Lift

Sunday: Low-intensity CV, 30 minutes

Drinking Really Jacks You Up

While it’s possible to drink — even get drunk — and still make progress, it’s a slippery slope. More often than not, a night out sends momentum barreling away from your goals. You know what I mean. Five drinks later and you’ve got an acute case of the “fuck-its.”

You wake up to an empty pizza box, skip your workout, and spend the next day on the couch. Now, I’m not saying you can’t drink. You’re a grown up. YOLO. But be reasonable.

If you drink, go with a vodka and soda with lime.

Or try a
Nor-Cal Margarita: 
2 Shots MezCal. Two full limes, squeezed. Club soda to chase.

Tip: Keep it to 3-5 drinks per week, max, and avoid drunk food. Want more guidelines? Watch my dude John Romaniello explain God Mode.

Do Shorter Workouts

When you’re dieting down, your workouts exist to maintain muscle, testosterone, and metabolism. That’s 95% of it. Keep the workouts short, sweet, and to the point. Each week had two upper body days, one total body day, and two conditioning days. Plus: 30 minutes of low-intensity cardio 3-4x per week.

But the workouts weren’t long. Many of my lifting sessions were 45 minutes from warm-up to cool down.

If it’s not essential, eliminate it. Pay close attention to your rest periods. Save for lifting heavy once per week to hold onto strength, keep rest periods 45-60 seconds on most exercises.Yes, you’ll have to drop the weight a bit at first, but you’ll eliminate a lot of wasted time scanning Facebook between sets.

Focus on the task at hand.  Get wired in knowing your workout is short, and put in high-quality work. Focus on the essentials. Eliminate the trivial junk.

Lift Heavy Once Per Week

During fat loss diets, most people jump into endless circuits and short rest periods. This is a mistake.

While some high-density work is okay, you’re better off keeping lifting for what it does best: Improving  anabolic hormones and muscle retention. You’ll get stronger as your diet creates a caloric deficit to burn fat.

Once a week, use a compound lift and push the weight for 2-3 sets of 3-5 reps. I chose the chin-up and front squat, but you can pick whatever you like as long as there is an upper body and lower body exercise.

Fasting, Hunger Pangs, and Dietary Discipline

I love to cook and eat. A lot. So it was hard to stick to my macros when dieting down, especially since I’m the primary chef at the Chateau Bach.

I adopted an intermittent fasting protocol, abstaining from food for 16 hours every day, and eating only in eight-hour windows. There are sacrifices in all diets. Skipping big meals with my wife, Lauren, was not something I was willing to do. So fasting during the day allowed more flexibility at dinner.  #Marriagegainz

Beyond sipping BCAA’s and creatine throughout the day, three strategies help me stave off hunger and stay disciplined.

Hydrate like it’s going out of style.

Most folks still mess up and don’t consume enough water. Aim for ½-1 oz of water for every pound of bodyweight.  Beyond the metabolic and health benefits of proper hydration, additional fluids will help you feel fuller, longer. If you’re still struggling, try carbonated water. The carbonation takes up more volume in your stomach to make you feel full and gives you a kick of flavor.

Eat “Clean”

I admit, I hate the term, but for simplicity, eating “clean” means natural foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean sources of protein, rather than Ben and Jerry’s and stacks of poop inhibiting quest bars. Natural foods give you more bang-for-your-buck and fill your belly full of essential macronutrients and micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. They are less calorically dense. Translation:  despite crushing three cups of spinach, they’re low in calories. So stock up on veggies and lean protein.  

We’re All Way Different

Dietarily speaking, your kindergarten teacher was right when she said you’re a special little butterfly.

But she didn’t know she was referring to your diet. What we all need to remember is what works for me, won’t necessarily work for you. That’s why actual experience working with humans—not just an IG account of half-naked selfies—is so damn important..

On one side of the scale image an ex-athlete, muscular dude.

He’s sort of a douche, so we’ll name him Chad.  

Chad has trained for ten years, is strong as an ox, but needs to lose the beer gut.

On the opposite, we have your aunt Mary.

Mary has been dieting for years.

But it’s yo-yo dieting. Mary has gained and losing the same 20 pounds like it’s going out of style.

There’s no way in hell that the basic “ bodyweight/lbs x12” calculation to determine calories works evenly for both Chad and Mary. Chad’s actually a bit easier in this case and will drop body fat fast if he lays off the burgers and beers for a few weeks.

But not poor Mary. She’s been dieting for years and as a result, her metabolism is jacked up and her metabolism is down-regulated. 

Basically, that means she’s been in a deficit so long her body holds onto fuel and her hormonal systems are jacked up.  

In this case, even calorie calculations that are considered very restrictive (10x BW/lbs for fat loss) is a lot of food for your poor aunt Mary.

This all brings me to my point:

If you’ve been dieting long-term, there’s a good chance you need to repair your metabolism.

Eat a well-balanced diet for a slight excess. Yes, this is a mental mind-fuck. I get it. And yes, the scale will go up—but that’s taking one step backward, repairing damage, and setting you up for ten massive steps forward.

Fitness Photo’s and Cuttin’….This Shit Ain’t Natural

I’ve never thought myself a “bodybuilder” or physique dude. To me, training has always been about building a better high-performance machine. But, I still train for vanity because, in the end, I want to look awesome in a t-shirt, and butt naked.  Or for a photo shoot.

So there was nothing natural about my photo shoot preparation.

But my basic approach didn’t change. It has always been to get amazing results through the ruthless execution of the basics.

Those fitness models in the magazines? The Ryan Reynolds in Blade or Brad Pitt in Fight Club?

These physiques we see and idealize are the result of incredible dedication. They work hard for a time, but the results are mostly short term.  

Ordinary people like my clients have the same issue. They can’t sacrifice their careers and family life to look their very best all the time.

I had the same issue with my photo shoot prep. But  I was feeling stagnant in my training. And I wanted to better understand the industry I work in, all its glory and craziness.

If you’re  dropping fat, depleting  your body, and improving  insulin sensitivity… you become ultra-receptive to both training and a higher calorie diet.

If you’re struggling to build muscle, your best bet is to dial back and go into a cut, getting to 6-10% bodyfat.  Then, ramp back into a muscle building diet. You’ll find your body is adding muscle, not fat, and at a much higher clip than before.

Diet down to boost your ability to build muscle. It’s cheat code for gains.


A few months ago, my brain was spinning. My business was growing, but I was spending all my time working with my clients to the detriment of my own training. I wasn’t in bad shape. But I wasn’t accountable until I set an ambitious  goal. Going through an aggressive fat loss phase forced me to take action and be accountable.

Finding Out What It’s Like

I have no intention of ever competing in bodybuilding. And I no longer play competitive sports. So the discipline required for the hard cut was essential to best serve my clients and readers.

I needed to better understand their struggles.

You see a “beginning photo” and a final shot. But but you don’t see the 5:00 am workouts or 1300 calorie struggles after a killer sprint session. And I won’t mention again manning the grill on Memorial Day while your friends and family drink beer and hot dogs, knowing you’re relegated to chicken and broccoli.

A Personal Challenge to get Shredded for Summer

Life is pretty cushy in 2016. Our biggest concern is what other people think of us, not whether we’ll have a fire to stay warm, or be able to impale a rabid Saber Tooth tiger before he rips your arm off.  

To grow physically, mentally, and spiritually, we need a challenge.

Adaptation must be forced.

It doesn’t come naturally.

Changing your body and going all in is one way to do that. When times get tough, you must persevere, kick the resistance in the face, and keep on  truckin’.

Bit I’ll admit it. During the cut, I sometimes wanted to quit.  And I fucked up a few times. Poppin’ bottles until four A.M. (because “networking”)  was not a good idea. Neither were the missed a cardio session or taking cheat meals a little too far.

But in all cases, I looked in the mirror and asked, “Really? Is that all you’ve got?”

Then I got back on track, made up the workouts, and kept moving forward one meal at a time, one workout at a time.

Push yourself. You’ll be amazed at what you accomplish mentally and physically. ‘

shredded, eric bach fat loss, fat loss, shredded for summer

How to get Shredded for Summer.
It worked for me. And it can work for you. Here’s How.

I’m giving you my top secrets to build your best body in the next Month 

Willpower is limited. That’s why having a coach is so important. Together, we’ll create the perfect plan that improves your life, rather than consumes it to build your ultimate body.

Apply Now: Only Five Spots Remaining  

Master Pull-Ups: Eight Tips To Pulling Prowess

Most everyone craves an athletic, cut physique but they fail to master the basic, multi-joint exercises that work best.

Case in point—Pull-ups. “But wait, all you have to do is grab the bar and pull your body, and chin to the bar…right?”

Not so fast.

Many dudes do “pull-ups”, but few master pull-ups, neglecting to do them properly or enough to build significant strength, muscle, or upper-body training balance despite the popularity of imaginary lat syndrome (medical abbreviation: ILS). The dichotomy between real results and and over-inflated I.L.S. strutting egos is terrifying. No upper body exercise is a better measure of relative physical strength than the pull-up, and it is grossly neglected. If you can’t do a proper pull-up you’re looking at an obvious mish-mash of issues that need fixing: you need to improve your strength, improve the push-pull balance in your training, and lose some fat. Therefore, the goal of this article is to review pull-up variations, execution and share he best tips to master pull-ups.

Whether you’ve mastered pull-ups with additional weight or have yet to do your first pull-up you owe it to yourself and your collection pre-shrunk t-shirts to expand your pull-up repertoire and become a vertical pulling beast. The benefits are huge. You’ll build a bigger and healthier upper body. You’ll add slabs of muscle to your lats, traps, forearms, and bicep.  Plus,  “I heard” knocking out pull-ups like a champ improves awesomeness %1,000 and makes Meg Griffin Mila Kunis swoon over you.

 Convinced yet? I thought so.

Master Pull-Ups with these Pull-Up Variations:

The pull-up is performed with the palms pronated, or facing away from you. The pull-up places a greater emphasis on the rhomboids, traps and lats as well as the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles. Chin-ups are performed with your palms facing you, known as supinated. This grip is typically easier than a pull-up and emphasizes the biceps more. Still great for training the lats, this is one of the best exercises for building big arms. Parallel grip pull-ups, known as the neutral grip, are performed with the palms facing each other. Neutral grip pull-ups are the easiest and safest of the three grip variations. The neutral grip is easiest on the wrist, shoulder, and elbow joints and is the most common pull-up among Bach Performance clients.

How to perform Pull-Ups

Most pull-ups are executed with half-extended arms and a full body seizure in effort to get the chest to the bar. Don’t be the idiot who only cares about rep quantity. Instead, master the quality. An exercise is only as effective as it’s execution. Start by grabbing the bar with your arms extended and shoulders retracted. Keep tension in the bottom position, avoiding  the relaxed, dead hang position. The dead hang position is best avoided as it places additional stress on the shoulders and elbows. It won’t bother you immediately, but long-term pulling from the dead-hang is problematic for consistent, long-term training. To master pull-ups squeeze the glutes to avoid over-arching the lower back while pulling the elbows down, bringing the chest to the bar and actively depressing your scapulae, finishing with your chin to the bar. Lower yourself under control, maintaining tension during the eccentric before repeating for desired reps. Can’t do Pull-Ups? Read “How to Do Pull-Ups” below: Part 1 Part 2


1.)  Select grip and width

2.)  Hold the bar with tension maintained in the lats and shoulders while squeezing glutes.

3.)  Drive the elbows down, pulling the elbows to neutral. 

4.)  Depress your scapulae and pull your chin over the bar.

5.)  Lower your body under control, fully extending the arms.

6.)  Maintain tension and repeat for prescribed reps.

7.) Here’s  a Fantastic video by Eric Cressey to help clean up your chin-up. Prepare to have your mind-blown. ===> Clean up your Chin Up

Eight Tips to Master Pull-Ups

1.) Drive the elbows down

You’ve seen it, a few “bros” barely extending the arms for sets of herky-jerky quarter-rep pull-ups. It’s as ineffective as it is stupid looking. Without extending the arms most tension is kept in the forearms and to a lesser extent, the biceps. Unfortunately, this limited range of motion fails to fully incorporate the lats. Pull with the elbows to build some serious wings and a well-developed back.

2.) Stop Spastic Reps

Yes, I mean swinging and kipping, the sacred cow of Crossfit. This isn’t a pull-up. Kipping is a difficult, technical lift to rapidly accelerate the body to the bar and back down. Unfortunately, this rapid swing and subsequent rapid deceleration places tons of stress on the shoulders and elbows. It’s a technical skill that requires practice, but unless you’re competing in Crossfit competitions you’re better off mastering pull-ups, real pull-ups. Oh, and don’t do this either:

3.) Challenge Your Grip

Get strong from all positions and use various grips and tools—Fat Gripz, off-set grips, rings, towels, baseballs, wide, narrow, supinated, neutral, and pronated grips. You have no reason to be weak–Get strong pulling from various angles and modalities to minimize weak-points.

4.) Resisted Sets

Chin-Ups are best programmed like any other compound lift, with progressive overload and eventually external resistance. Keep in mind heavy, near maximal sets are extremely taxing on your nervous system, so intelligent programming and appropriate rest periods are a must. Train for strength with weighted sets between 2-6 reps, shooting to equal your chin up max (bodyweight+ external resistance) with your bench press max–Very difficult to do, but those who get close are jacked, athletic, and weight-room bad-asses.

5.) High Rep Sets

If you’re looking to build muscle, increase local muscular endurance for a sport like climbing, or “shock” your system into massive hypertrophy then high-rep pull-ups belong in your repertoire. If you do fewer than 5 pull-ups use a thick band for band-assisted pull-ups and to get the necessary training volume. If you’re a pull-up boss, able to knock out 10+ at a time with great form then try this drop-set:

  1. Pull-Ups (wider than shoulders, pronated grip) for 3-5 reps. Rest 15 seconds
  2. Neutral Grip Pull-Ups (shoulder width, neutral grip) for 3-5 reps. Rest 15 seconds
  3. Chin Ups (shoulder width, supinated grip) for 3-5 reps. Rest 90 seconds

Repeat this for two to four work sets, avoiding muscular failure until chin-ups at the end.

6.) Ditch the Dead-hang

Relaxing the shoulders and arms at the bottom of pull-ups removes muscular tension and places all the stress on the ligaments and tendons of the elbows and shoulders—recipe for future dysfunction and injury. Long-term vertical pulling is great for upper body strength and stability, when done correctly. I’ve found clients that stick with the “dead-hang” position are more prone to shoulder and elbow issues than those who stay slightly retracted. pull up positioning, deadhang pull-up, master pull-ups

Dead-hang position (left) versus slightly retracted (right)

7.) Lose Fat

Unless you need the additional bulk for sport or improving your powerlifting total, dropping  body fat will improve health, performance, and your chances with the Mila Kunis (maybe).  Few exercises test and build relative strength like the pull-up, dropping a few pounds will instantly boost your numbers, improve your ability to train with high volume, and help you master pull-ups.

8.) High Frequency Training

Think back to when you first started riding a bike: When you took off your training wheels you struggled right away and probably took a digger, and scrapped your knee. It wasn’t until you practiced over, and over again that you become proficient. The same persistence is required as you seek to master pull-ups. To make rapid improvements you need high frequency training. Training two pull-up variations per week will help you master Pull-Ups due to improved neural efficiency, muscular strength, size, and endurance. Train one workout per week with high reps and one workout with an emphasis on heavier resistance and lower reps. In both cases avoid failure—this only develops poor technique and zaps your nervous system. If you struggle to do many reps take 50-75% of max reps and do smaller, technically perfect sets, like four rep sets instead of eight. Practice doesn’t make perfect; rather, perfect practice makes perfect.  

Wrap Up

It doesn’t take complicated exercises nor “super-advanced” programming to build a strong, shredded, athletic body– it takes hard work and mastering the basics. Pull heavy, pull light, pull frequently, and pull correctly to  master your pull-ups—they’re a vital tool for building upper body health, strength, and mass.
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Activity Specific Warm Ups

Today I had my first officially published article through ACE Fitness, one of the most well respected fitness organizations around. BOOOOOOOOOOOYAHHH! So first, thanks for reading and your support of my blog, as feedback I receive is vital to improving myself as a trainer and writer.

But Anyways, this is an article I put quite a bit of effort into researching, writing, editing, and developing as I see it as a very under-utilized and lack luster piece of most programs.

Activity specific warm ups are important!  They safely prepare the body for activity, rev up the nervous system, and get you mentally in-tune to destroy your next training session. Whether you’re an elite athlete or someone just starting a fitness routine having a planned warm up is vital to having your best quality workout and staying injury free. Without further ado check out the link below and please let me know what you think.

Thanks for your support!


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