John in Liverpool emailed The Lean Exec to ask: In the book you recommend doing bodyweight exercises like pull-ups. I can’t do a pull-up. What’s the best way to increase my strength to do pull-ups?
While pull-ups are challenging if you can’t do one, it’s worth the effort to train yourself and increase your strength to do them. One way is to use the assisted pull-up machine and start with a weight balance that will allow you to do the reps, then decrease the weight over time and sooner or later you won’t need the weight.
This can work, but my preferred and suggested way (which may seem a bigger challenge) but is likely to get results faster the using the following steps twice a week until you can pull-up:
Dead Hang from an overhead bar until you can hold for at least 5-10 seconds rest for 15-30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.
Use a stable box, bench or support so you can hold the overhead bar at the top of the bar (chin just above the height of the bar), then step off the box/support and lower yourself to a Dead Hang as slowly as you can. Do this until you can repeat at least 5 times with control.
Starting with a Dead Hang attempt a Pull-Up as far as you can. Repeat Steps 2 and 3 until you can do a full Pull-Up.
Note: Once you can do a Pull-Up, repeat Steps 1 and 2 for the next rep and so on. Increasing your ability on any of the 3 Step techniques can also help you break plateaus and push to another rep. Good Luck & don’t give up!