Workout Routines

The 100-Pullup Challenge to Test Your Upper Back

Time to step up—or, more accurately, pull up—to elevate your physique.

Pullup
Per Bernal

What It Is

A true test of upper-body pulling strength (think back and biceps), endurance, and overall grit.

Here’s your task: Do 100 body-weight pullups in under 10 minutes, resting as needed. That’s the full-blown advanced version. “Trying to get 100 pullups in under 10 minutes is no joke, especially if you’re only used to performing sets of eight to 10 reps,” says Jim Smith, C.P.P.S., owner of Diesel Strength & Conditioning (dieselsc.com). If you know for a fact this is beyond you, stick with 10 minutes but drop the reps to 50.

When to Do It

On back day. When doing the challenge, this should be your only back exercise in the workout. If your ego and muscles are still intact, retest one or two weeks later.

How to Do It

Set a timer and start pulling. As for how to get through it: “The goal is not to go to absolute failure, because you’ll never recover enough to keep hitting reps within the time limit,” says Smith. “Always keep two to three reps ‘in the tank.’ In other words, stop the set when you know you could still hit two or three reps.”

What to Aim For:

  • More than 10 min. = You’ve got work to do.
  • 8-10 min. = Nice, man. You did it!
  • Under 8 min. = All hail the pullup king

Performance Tip

“On the pullups, make sure you’re driving your elbows back to your sides or slightly behind your torso as you pull your chin over the bar,” Smith says. “This will help take the stress off your elbows and alleviate potential inflammation issues that can occur during high-volume pullup workouts.”

How to Prepare

To bump up your pullup volume for a good showing in the challenge, Smith recommends “greasing the groove” for at least one week by doing five pullups after every set of every exercise you do—for every workout. Here’s a sample leg day:

  1. Barbell Back Squat: 5 x 6-8 reps 
  2. Reverse Lunge: 4 x 10 per leg
  3. Romanian Deadlift: 2 x 12

*Do 5 pullups after all sets during rest periods. By the end of the workout, you’ll have accumulated 65 pullups.

Challenge by JimSmith, C.P.P.S.

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