The 50 Pull-up Challenge

A lot of people have asked me about how to go about increasing their reps on pull-ups. There are a lot of ways one can successfully do this, but the method that I am proposing is probably the most simple and direct.

The 50 pull-up challenge consists of doing 50 pull-ups in one workout, no matter how many sets it takes you. Even if it means you are doing sets of one rep by the end. You are allowed as long of a break in between sets as you need.

For example, you might start out with a set of 10, followed by a set of 8, followed by a set of 7, then 2 more sets of 5, 3 sets of 3, 2 sets of 2, and end with a couple sets of 1. This could take a while at first, but over time the amount of sets that you can do this in should go down.

At first I would recommend only doing this once or twice a week, as it will be a bit of a shock to your body. Eventually, however, you can condition yourself to doing this just about every day.

After a month or two, you could have it down to 4 or 5 sets. Highly fit individuals can do this in one or two sets. After a while it could simply be your warm up!

This same approach can be used to increase reps on pretty much any other exercise as well, like push-ups, dips, or even pistol squats. Additionally, if 50 is just not realistic for you right now, then pick a smaller number (maybe 30?) and then build up from there. For women it might be better to do the challenge with modified pull-ups.

The 50 Pull-up Challenge is not for beginners or the faint of heart! If you are not ready for it yet, doing the challenge with pushups instead of pull-ups is a more modest task to approach first.

8 thoughts on “The 50 Pull-up Challenge

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  • By Darren -

    Al,

    I wanted to drop you a note about your post above. When I first read it, I thought it was kind of silly. “If you want to do more pull ups, just do 50 of them!” Sure, easy to say. But I like your site and the rest of your advice, so I gave it a try. 

    At the time, I could do 8 pull ups max in a set. I had wanted to get to 20. I did 11 sets and only got up to 43. Two weeks later, I tried again and got to 50 in 10 sets.

    That was 2 months ago. Since then, I’ve gotten to where I do 5-6 sets totaling 50+. A couple weeks ago, I reached my goal: 20! I never thought I could do it.

    This page, along with the rest of your site, has been a great help in reaching this goal–one I never thought I could reach!

    Thanks so much.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks for the comment and congrats on your progress, Darren!

  • By Cmpoole7 -

    When you say do 50 reps in as few sets as possible, are you talking about to failure or submaximal sets? And if submax, then what percent of your max reps should I aim for per set? I have been stuck at 11-12 reps since October of last year, and I have been ready to break through this plateau. Thanks in advance!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Either way – just get those reps in.

  • By Liam Trott -

    Hi Al, I have done this twice and already it has increased my maximum reps per set. More importantly though since starting calisthenics I can now carry my girlfriend up the stairs :) Thanks for your posts!! All the best from England, Liam

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Congrats, Liam! Keep up the good work!

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