Ladder Training for Pull-ups

I'm not sure how many canoe clubs actually have pull-up tests but here is a pull-up training exercise idea for those who haven't done this before to help increase your pull-up max reps count and overall muscular endurance - great for distance prep - climbing into da canoe.

"Ladder Training" aka Pyramids

Starting at one rep with increments of 1, do as many pull-ups as you can then go back down to one in decrements of 1.

For example, if your max reps is 7:
(perform 1 rep, rest, perform 2 reps, rest, perform 3 reps, rest etc.)

If doing with a partner, you would alternate at each increment.

For paddling, modify the standard pull-up to finish at chest rather than chin.

Just another training idea ~

Submitted by kamamakakaua on Wed, 07/01/2009 - 1:38pm


this is great post. not sure if i can pull up all the way to my chest. i'll definitely have to move the power tower outside of the house.

anybody else got any useful, shareable training tips?

#1 Wed, 07/01/2009 - 1:53pm

This is probably one of the better videos I've seen describing the 'kipping" pull-up - a modified form of pull-up to assist in increasing the reps on this exercise - for training purposes, this is a nice addition to the collection of movement repertoire...

#2 Wed, 07/01/2009 - 2:07pm

here's a women's demo...

#3 Wed, 07/01/2009 - 2:14pm

One of the crossfit workouts is similar. Starting with one pullup on the first minute, add one every minute. So 2 in the second minute, 3 third minute, 20 at 20 minutes etc.

It's a alot of pullups if you last that long

#4 Wed, 07/01/2009 - 3:32pm

Another great strength builder for the upper body are push-ups. In my much younger days, I took part in some rather harsh and physically demanding military training. A huge part of the training was doing pullups and pushups. In the first few days we would perform 800 to 1000 a day and that number increased every week. One day I counted 275 pushups before we ate breakfast.

To get ready for doing that many pushups we trained like dacho suggests by breaking up the exercises into one minute sessions. We started with 10 pushups a minute, for every minute up to an hour. That sounds easy but it adds up to 600 pushups.

Once you can do 10 a minute for an hour, bump it up to 11, then 12 and so on. After you get strong enough and you want to make it interesting, put some cash on the line at the next canoe team practice and challenge your teammates to see who can perform the most sets of 10 pushups a minute in a row.

Next time you’re setting around watching the boob-tube, give it a try.

#5 Thu, 07/02/2009 - 6:54am

Current world record is 880 in 60 minutes.

#6 Thu, 07/02/2009 - 7:30am

Going with OC1 Driver's idea one step further, you could combine the pull-ups and push-ups -

One rep pull-up then one rep push-up, rest, 2 reps pull, 2 reps push, rest, 3 rep pull, 3 rep push, rest etc.


#7 Thu, 07/02/2009 - 10:56am

Push up world record, 10,507 at one go.

#8 Thu, 07/02/2009 - 11:05am

thats insane!

How long did that take???

#9 Thu, 07/02/2009 - 11:38am

Not sure how long, but it was a non stop effort, no breaks. 1 hour record is 3877, and 24 hour record is 41,001.
Don't know about you, but I feel pretty good if I can bang out 45 nonstop.

#10 Thu, 07/02/2009 - 11:49am

I can't figure out how to link youtube but in the spirit of Kamamakakaua's push/pull up idea.... Look up Burpee Pull ups.

#11 Thu, 07/02/2009 - 1:13pm

For the girls crew I'm stealing the crossfit idea: run (easy) out and back 25 meters, 10 push-ups, run, 10 crunches, run, 10 air-squats, run, then coming back 25 mtrs lunge. Next cycle add 1 (11 push-ups, etc). Do for a time interval (12 minutes?), and last 2 minutes up the run effort. Increase time and starting # of pushups, etc as fitness increases. This after base 2 mile run and regular push-up, core exercises. Add other variations as your imagination allows.
Seems to really be working for just overall fitness and conditioning. Going to 2x a week now on non paddling days. Plenty bang for not much time expenditure.
Love to hear others ideas...we steal without shame.

#12 Thu, 07/02/2009 - 1:18pm

This is the youtube i found...

For YouTube postings, you just have to copy and paste the url into the comment and mgically somehow OCP posts the videos on here - no need to the object embedding.

Not sure how to do it for vimeo tho but check this out ... its the "300' workout completed in under 30 minutes...

Anyone that can complete this workout period could probably do well in paddling with the proper technique - lot ta muscular endurance involved...

25x - Chin-ups (underhand)
50x - 135lb Hang Clean
50x - plyo push-ups on 45lb plates
50x - 40 lbs single arm 4b snatches
25x - 30 lbs sit-up presses
25x - squat jumps
50x - 95 lbs bentover rows, pull & shrug
25x - Push-up to pull-up

#13 Thu, 07/02/2009 - 1:21pm

i like these kind of workouts. but i have to admit, if i'm training on a one man i avoid them all together. too many workouts like this and i get all stiff and feel like i loose a lot of fluidity in my paddling. my torso gets tighter and i have a hard time articulating my hips to control the ama. but again, that's just me.

#14 Thu, 07/02/2009 - 7:16pm

I'm wondering if after doing all these pull-up exercises for a while, can it be expected that our water changes would be faster?

#15 Fri, 07/03/2009 - 6:06am

Garrins! I bet you could improve your water changes more by doing pullups than by practicing actual water changes.

#16 Fri, 07/03/2009 - 6:27am

Add some dips for water changes, too.

#17 Fri, 07/03/2009 - 8:58am

What's the point about being able to do multiple pull ups... you only need to be able to do one good one to get into the canoe??

The time spent on practicing actual changeovers will pay off more than gym work.

  1. Correct position in the water on approach.
  2. Correct hand placement on the gunnel's.
  3. Clean entry in one continuous movement grabbing the paddle as your butt hits the seat followed by legs in last.

The above are the important things to get right.

Swimming up to the edge of a swimming pool, pulling up and placing your butt on the copping without pausing, would be a good substitute if you live in cold water areas, you could even have someone standing by with a paddle in place for you to grab.

On of the best entry techniques I've ever seen is by Aussie Paddler Chris Maynard, i have a video of the entry, over the next few days I'll dig it out and post here.

Cheers Rambo

#18 Fri, 07/03/2009 - 6:33pm

I think the main thing for the exercises is so your shoulders can take the yank of the canoe at almost full speed (no need slow down). This way, the canoe pull you up and all you need do is spin your okole into the seat, zip up and stroke. So wack the gunnels hard (like a slam dunk).

#19 Fri, 07/03/2009 - 6:58pm

Koa, i agree with you to whack the Gunnel's hard, but not to let the canoe's forward movement pull you up. Having your upper body clear of the water before the canoe has a chance to pull you forward, not up, will lessen the chance of a dislocation. A ex bodybuilder paddling teammate has just done his second dislocation at Hamo last week, his first was at Vaka Eiva last year. So technique not brute strength is preferable in my opinion.

By all means do some exercises, but not to the extreme as some mentioned above.

A much better exercise would be to climb a 20ft thick rope and use your feet to help until you can do it unaided. At least your arms and shoulders are at a more natural position than hanging from a horizontal bar.

This Cross-fit stuff is nothing new, we were doing most of what they preach 30 - 40 years ago as Gymnastic strength training in preparation for apparatus, just not to the destructive extreme that some of them take it to.

Cheers Rambo

#20 Fri, 07/03/2009 - 8:04pm

Ok Rambo, whatevah you say, for that's when them antagonistic muscle training pays off? But you got to excuse us guys with the beeg opu that need the help of the canoe for hoist up inside. Wacky wacky - no can help, the lift is automatic when you hit the gunnels hard. If the canoe is stalled or going real slow, then no more the yank.

#21 Sat, 07/04/2009 - 1:27am

I left out the bit about the "big buttinskis" on purpose as not to offend anyone...hahaha. But i can relate to it as i learnt the hard way not to wear wetsuit shorts without a waist drawstring. Dang things fill with water and balloon out at the legs .... no can get in that way even with pull up training.

Cheers Rambo

#22 Sat, 07/04/2009 - 1:40am

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