If you feel that your training has become boring and repetitive and you need a challenge, you’ve come to the right place. You not only need to be physically strong, but you also need to be mentally tough, because this is the stuff that separates the men from the boys.
Pull-ups are one of those exercises that people tend to either love or hate, there’s no in-between. There are lots of ways you can measure muscle strength and endurance. The most popular ones are the “big three”, namely the bench press, squat and the deadlift, as well as some bodyweight exercises such as the pull-up.
When it comes to measuring your fitness level, your bodyweight strength is as important as how much you can squat and bench. And there isn’t a better example of the importance of bodyweight exercises as the pull-up routine challenge undertaken by the new recruits in the Russian Special Forces.
At first, the challenge may seem pretty simple and easy, but rest assured by the time you’re finished with it you’ll be searching for a puke bucket.
- Pull-up bar
- A 25 lb weighted vest, 25 lb weight plate or 25 lb kettlebell
- If you can’t find a weighted vest, you can use a dipping belt to attach the weight plate/kettlebell.
The Pull-Up Challenge
Again, this routine is not to be taken lightly. It will certainly draw every ounce of energy from you. You will not only be testing your strength, endurance, and overall fitness, you will also completely scorch your forearms, biceps, and lats. You’ll need to do a total of 18 full range-of-motion pull-ups, each and every one of them done with a correct form. If the form breaks, it isn’t counted as a rep.
Oh, and one more thing – the 25 lb weighted vest, weight plate or kettlebell we were talking about, you’ll need to have that strapped to you during the entire “ordeal”. Even though it’s designed for the Russian Special Forces, this challenge is not that different from the level of strength and endurance that let’s say the fire brigade or other countries’ armed forces need to display.
If you need some pointers on how to nail the technique, here’s a step by step instruction:
- Grip the pull-up bar using an overhand (pronated) grip, with your hands shoulder-width apart.
- Straighten the arms and keep the back straight and rigid.
- Bend the knees slightly and cross the lower legs.
- Retract the shoulder blades, this way you’ll decrease the stress on the shoulder joints.
- Keeping the core tight throughout, pull yourself upwards until your chin reaches the height of the bar.
- Stay and pause at the top for 2 seconds. Then, lower yourself to the starting position.