Strength-to-weight Ratio in "loaded" bodyweight exercises | Uphill Athlete

Strength-to-weight Ratio in "loaded" bodyweight exercises

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  • #4996
    JP Laroche

    For the last 4-5 years I did small periods of weighted pull-up usually 4 to 6 weeks at a time. Although this was before I even knew the existence of the periodization concept I guess that getting super-fatigued by this particular exercise and abandoning it prevented me from overdoing it and that in itself was a form of periodization.

    In the last 18 months I focused mainly on bouldering to increase my absolute finger strength and my upper body power.

    After re-reading TFNA (which is awesome!) I stumbled upon your maximum strength pull-up routine. I had not done any weighted pull-up in the last 18 months so I chose a weight based on the upper range I had noted in my sheets 2 years ago.

    I did not want to go straight for the 1RM or 2RM, so the first 2 sessions I went for 3RM in order to estimate the next weight I would add for the following session using Brzycki formula.

    Today was my third session, I felt that it was truly 3RM, could not have done a fourth repetition. The amount of weight increased pretty quickly and now is 62 pounds (52% of my bodyweight).

    Do you have any targets that you use with your athletes concerning “loaded” bodyweight exercises (e.g pull-ups, dips, ring exercises, etc.) in terms of Strength-to-weight Ratio.

    For exemple, if I reach 60% of my bodyweight in added weight, is there any more benefits to be gained? Is there a point where it would become detrimental to be “too strong” in this specific exercise? Instead should I focus on the absolute weight and not focus about the ratio (I mean a 30 pounds pack is the same for a light climber vs a heavy climber).

    Thanks, and again awesome work with the book and the blog!


  • Inactive
    Anonymous on #5006


    You can never be too strong. Of course you can very easily be too heavy. But this special pull up strength program you are doing will not increase mass at all so that’s no concern. The added weight is a cool party trick (I used to be able to do a couple of pull ups with my 110 pound girl friend hanging on my back). But the really functional part that will come from this type of strength gain will be your increase in local muscular endurance. Navy SEALs that I work with use this program to improve their number of pull ups in a minute which is part of one of their selection tests. They start off quite skeptical that never doing more than 3 or 4 pull ups in a set will actually increase their endurance. But everyone who has every used the program, including these super strong (but muscle heavy) SEALs has seen big gains in the local muscular endurance that allows lots of pull ups.

    So this will make you stronger and give you more endurance as well.


    JP Laroche on #5010

    Great, thanks for the explanations! Good enough for the SEALs, good enough for me.

    That 110 pounds pull-up is quite impressive Scott! I’ll continue with it one period per year and with some other trainings hopefully I’ll see gains in my ice climbing next winter.


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