Pull-Up Level 5 Overview

Primary Goal of Level

The goal of Level 5 of the Pull-Up Program is to complete one rep of a 20 seconds Elevated Leg Assisted Pull-Up Hold with a controlled 5-second descent at a 12-18″ elevation. If you are already capable of this, please move to the next level.

Secondary Goals

In Level 5, we are preparing you for the standard height pull-up bar! In the next level (which is Level 6) we will be on the pull-up bar at the standard height! Wow, look at you go. Not only am I impressed, but your dog is as well. Don’t have a dog you say? You should get one, they are wonderful companions and will bring more happiness to your life than this pull-up program :). But I digress.

In Level 6, the goal will be long holds at the top with your chin over the bar for 12-15 seconds with a controlled 5-second descent.

By this point, you may be wondering, why am I programming all of these holds at the top and slow controlled descents. Great question. First, if you haven’t already, read the Level 4 Pull-up overview where I discuss the three contraction types.

The pull-up holds and the controlled descent are isometric and eccentric contractions. These two contraction types are able to exert more force than a concentric contraction.

  • Eccentric = Lowering yourself down from the pull-up.
  • Isometric = Holding yourself at the top with your chin over the bar.
  • Concentric = The up portion of the pull-up.

What this means in practical terms is you are capable of performing the Isometric and Eccentric portion of a pull-up before you can do the concentric portion.

So, in Level 5 we are heavily focusing on the isometric and concentric portion. We are getting those contraction types in the pull-up strong so we can perform them at standard pull-up height in level 6. Ya dig?

Goal of sub-levels

There are two sub-levels in the Level 5 Pull-Up Program. Each sub-level has a goal. Once that goal is attained you can move to the next sub-level. Please take a look at the goals for each sub-level. You have two options on where you can start. For the first option, you can pick the sub-level that is most difficult for your current strength but you are not able to complete the goal of that sub-level. The second option is to simply start from the beginning and work your way through each level.

  • Level 5.1: One rep of a 10 seconds Elevated Leg Assisted Pull-Up Hold with a controlled 5-second descent at a 12-18″ elevation.
  • Level 5.2: One rep of a 20 seconds Elevated Leg Assisted Pull-Up Hold with a controlled 5-second descent at a 12-18″ elevation.

What is a pull-up hold?

At this level, we will begin using isometric holds. Isometric is just a fancy word for ‘not moving while flexing’. In fact, let’s do a little exercise science lesson while we are here. There are three types of muscular contractions used in strength training:

  • Eccentric: This is when your muscle is lengthening under tension. Let’s use a bicep curl as an example. Eccentric is when the weight is lowering down and making the muscle longer.
  • Concentric:  Still rolling with the bicep curl example. This is when the muscle moves up and makes the muscle shorter.
  • Isometric:  Now imagine that on the way up or down you just stopped moving. The muscle is not moving longer or shorter, but it is still under tension and not moving. The portion of the movement where it is not moving is called an isometric contraction.

Look at you! Getting smart and and strong at the same time. Aren’t we fancy?

Now, back to what a leg-assisted pull-up hold is. By now, you already know that the top part of a pull-up is when your chin is over the bar. Right?!?!

Well, the hold is simply staying there with your chin above the bar. Isometrically contracting your arms and back to hold yourself up.

Here is the hard part. While your chin is above the bar, you have to count. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Chris, you are making me do all this reading and counting. Can’t I just go to the gym and take a gym selfie and call it a day because counting is hard. To that I say, sorry, no, you have to count. Again, I digress :).

While above the bar, make sure you count one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand, and so on… Let’s keep good form and proper count.

Isometric Hold

Microcycle (i.e. weekly programming ) Design