Weighted Pull-Up Workouts

Weighted Pull-Up Workouts

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Increase the difficulty of pull-ups by adding weight.

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Body weight workouts are effective for developing a foundation of strength and flexibility. Pull-ups, for example, are especially useful for developing upper-body strength. However, as your level of strength grows over time, you will eventually hit a performance plateau. Adding weight to your pull-ups increases the impact of the exercise, but there are a few factors you need to consider before you begin doing this.

Weight Equipment

To increase the weight of a pull-up, you'll need specific equipment that adds resistance to that of your own body weight. You can tie a rope through a free weight plate and then attach it to a belt around your waist; you can wear an adjustable weight belt, a weighted vest or ankle weights or attach resistance bands to the floor and to your body. The type of equipment depends on your personal preference; as long as the weight doesn't interfere with your form, comfort and ease-of-use will help determine the device you should use.

Pull-up Form

When using additional weight, it is important to maintain proper form for your pull-ups through both the lift and control phases of the exercise. Improper form will shift the resistance from the target muscles of the lats, biceps, deltoids and traps to smaller stabilizer muscles that may not be able to handle the increased weight. Use a secure bar. Place your hands on the bar using an overhand grip, set just wider than your shoulders. Let your body hang and then pull your body upward with your arms. Control your weight as you lower yourself down. Don't cheat your repetitions by trying to generate momentum on the lift phase and dropping too fast on the control phase.

Sets and Reps

With increased weight, don't over do the number of pull-ups. The exact number of sets and reps depends on how much extra weight you intend to use. If you're going significantly heavier, you want to limit the number of pull-ups you do in each set while limiting the overall number of sets. If you only add an additional five pounds or so, you can do a higher number of reps in each set with few if any complications. For pull-ups of any type, you don't typically need to perform any more than three or four sets per workout.


Increasing weight for pull-ups and other body weight exercises requires you to pay special attention to the schedule you use for training. Your body is going to need more rest to recover from the additional resistance. Take at least one day off in between workouts with weighted pull-ups. Two days are better, because there will be greater muscle regeneration. If you use resistance bands or weight plates tied to your waist, ask a friend to spot your pull-ups to make sure you don't get tangled up and so your reps don't generate a pendulum effect.