Try this powerful variation on a traditional pull-up to build better dynamic strength on the wall.
(This article was originally published in March of 2017.)
The Chest-Bump Pull-Up (aka the Power Pull-Up) is one of my favorite exercises! While not too drastically different from a regular pull-up, the Power Pull-Up—when done correctly—adds a degree of difficulty. What makes this pull-up variation unique (and tough!) is the power needed to accelerate your body upward so that there’s enough momentum to propel your upper chest into the bar. When doing a regular pull-up, your body decelerates as you near the top position; but with the Power Pull-Up you accelerate into the bar. Therefore, each pull-up ends with a forceful chest bump into the bar.
How to Perform a Power Pull-Up
- Grip the pull-up bar palms-away and hands about shoulder width apart.
- Begin each repetition with a slight bend in your arms and the thought of trying to bend the bar—this will fully recruit your rotator cuff and scapular stabilizers.
- Now pull up explosively and with the intention of bringing the bar down to meet the pectoral muscles of your chest. Really strong climbers will pull the bar down to touch their upper abs!
- As you near the top of the pull-up, squeeze your shoulder blades together and lean your head back slightly—this will help push your chest up into the bar.
- Lower back to the starting position at a more moderate speed and stop short of going into a dead hang. Immediately begin the next repetition.
- Continue for a total of five to ten (hard) repetitions. Again, a rep does not count if your chest doesn’t forcefully contact the bar.
- Do one to three sets, always resting for at least 3 minutes between sets.
Take It Further
While you may initially only be able to pull the bar down to touch your upper chest during these Power Pull-Ups, make it your long-term goal to pull the bar lower so as to touch your lower pectoral muscles and, ultimately, your upper abs (like in the above photo). This training progression will develop into awesome pulling power.
- “Boulder Campusing” Power Endurance Training for Climbers
- Two Basic Exercises for Developing Strength & Power for Climbing
- Campus Power Training
- The Best Climbing Exercise You’re Not Doing: The Scapular Pull-Up!
- Weighted Pull-Up Program for Stronger Climbing
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