Russian Pull up Program

russian pull up program pavelThe Fighter Pull up By Pavel Tsatsouline

One look at Mike Tyson’s back when he punched should make it obvious how important the lats are to a fighter.

The lat provides a connection between yourarm and the rest of your body at the moment of the punch’s impact.

If the “armpit muscle” is not activated you cannot put your mass behind the punchand your shoulder is asking for trouble.

The pullup is the logical choice of an exercise to strengthen your lats.

If you ask an experienced bodybuilder how to work the latissimus most thoroughly he will tell you to look up, force your chest open, and draw your shoulder blades together on the top of the pullup.

This may be okay for bodybuilders, but what does this have to do with fighting?


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You move in the ring in what gymnasts call “the hollow position” – the scapulae flared and the chest caved in. This is the way you should finish your pullups. Look straight ahead and hunch over thebar. Touch your neck or upper chest to the bar to make sure there is no question that you have completed the rep. Lower yourself under complete control and pause momentarily with your arms fully straight before going for another rep.

Question: Where can I learn more about the Russian Spetsnaz?

Check out this book Spetsnaz: The Inside Story of the Soviet Special Forces to get a good look at what is going on behind the iron curtain.

These soldiers are training and in combat zones / hot spots around the world.


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The Russian Pull up Program Explained
Here is a powerful Russian pullup program adaptable to any level of ability.
The 5 Rep Max (RM) Russian Pullup Program
Day 1 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Day 2 5, 4, 3, 2, 2
Day 3 5, 4, 3, 3, 2
Day 4 5, 4, 4, 3, 2
Day 5 5, 5, 4, 3, 2
Day 6 off
Day 7 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
Day 8 6, 5, 4, 3, 3
Day 9 6, 5, 4, 4, 3
Day 10 6, 5, 5, 4, 3
Day 11 6, 6, 5, 4, 3
Day 12 off
Day 13 7, 6, 5, 4, 3
Day 14 7, 6, 5, 4, 4
Day 15 7, 6, 5, 5, 4
Day 16 7, 6, 6, 5, 4
Day 17 7, 7, 6, 5, 4
Day 18 off
Day 19 8, 7, 6, 5, 4
Day 20 8, 7, 6, 5, 5
Day 21 8, 7, 6, 6, 5
Day 22 8, 7, 7, 6, 5
Day 23 8, 8, 7, 6, 5
Day 24 off
Day 25 9, 8, 7, 6, 5
Day 26 9, 8, 7, 6, 6
Day 27 9, 8, 7, 7, 6
Day 28 9, 8, 8, 7, 6
Day 29 9, 9, 8, 7, 6
Day 30 off

You start with an all-out set and then cut a rep in each consecutive set for a total of five sets.The next day add a rep to the last set. Then a rep to the set before that, etc. The system is intended to be used for four weeks. In the end of the month take two or three days off and then test yourself. It is not unusual to up the reps 2.5 to 3 times. In other words, you are likely to end up cranking out 12-15 reps if you started with 5.

Video – Week 4 Day 2 Pavel Fighter Pull Ups Program 1st set 9 reps super set with 6 dips.

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If you can already do between 6 and 12 reps start the program with the first day your PR shows up. For instance, if your max is 6 pullups start with Day 7; if your max is 8 start with Day 19. If you run into a snag with this routine, back off a week and build up again. If you hit the wall again switch to another routine. Here is how the program applies to those who currently max at three pullups. The below is also excellent for anyone whose goal is pure strength rather than reps; just hang a kettle bell or a barbell plate on your waist to bring the reps down to three.

The 3 Rep Max (RM) Russian Pullup Program
Day 1 3, 2, 1, 1
Day 2 3, 2, 1, 1
Day 3 3, 2, 2, 1
Day 4 3, 3, 2, 1
Day 5 4, 3, 2, 1
Day 6 off
Day 7 4, 3, 2, 1, 1
Day 8 4, 3, 2, 2, 1
Day 9 4, 3, 3, 2, 1
Day 10 4, 4, 3, 2, 1
Day 11 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Day 12 off

Now you are ready to move up to the 5 Rep Max program. For a fighter capable of 15 pullups the routine would look like this:

The 15 RM Russian Pullup Program
Day 1 15RM x 12, 10, 8, 6, 4
Day 2 15RMx12, 10, 8, 6, 6
Day 3 15RMx12, 10, 8, 8, 6
Day 4 15RMx12, 10, 10, 8, 6
Day 5 15RMx12, 12, 10, 8, 6
Day 6 off
Day 7 15RMx14, etc.

A stud with a 25-pullup max would do it slightly differently:

The 25RM Russian Pullup Program
Day 1 25RMx20, 16, 12, 8, 4
Day 2 25RMx20, 16, 12, 8, 8
Day 3 25RMx20, 16, 12, 12, 8
Day 4 25RMx20, 16, 16, 12, 8
Day 5 25RMx20, 20, 16, 12, 8
Day 6 off
Day 7 25RMx22, etc.

You can see that the higher the RM, the quicker the reps drop off. The reason is simple. You should have no problem doing four reps a few minutes after 5RMx5. But x 24 is not going to happen after an all-out set of 25. The higher the reps, the greater the fatigue. Therefore you need to start more reps down from your rep-max and cut the reps more between sets.

Experiment.

An extra day of rest here and there is also in order; the recovery from sets of fifteen or twenty is not nearly as quick as from fives and triples.Yakov Zobnin from Siberia, the Heavyweight World Champion in Kyokushinkai, “the world’s strongest karate”, stands over 6’6” and tops the scale at 220 pounds. In spite of his basketball height and exhausting full contact training, the karateka maxes out at twenty-five strict pullups. What is your excuse? Power to you!

Pavel is a former Soviet Special Forces physical training instructor and the author of The Naked Warrior
Master the Secrets of the Super-Strong-Using Bodyweight Exercises Only

Questions from athletes in our gym and readers online.

Question: What is the 15rm russian pull-up workout? Check out the workout above and it will explain how the Russian Special Forces do the pull up workout.

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