There is no doubt that the best way to improve your pull-up numbers is to do a lot of pull-ups. There are many different ways to achieve that goal and of them is the ladder system. This method has been popularized by Pavel Tsatsouline but the first to do it remains unknown.
The ladder method works like this: you do 1 pull-up, rest, do 2 pull-ups, rest, do 3 pull-ups, rest, do 4 pull-ups, rest, do 5 pull-ups, rest…BIG REST and start all over again.
In general, this method is supposed to be done with a partner. You do one rep and then he/she tries to match it and the cycle repeats over and over again.
However, you can also do it by yourself, just make sure that you keep the rest periods short – 1-3 minutes for the first ladder and 3-5 minutes for the next ladders.
The main benefit of using ladders for your pull-ups is the enormous amount of volume that you are going to accumulate. If you are able to do 12-14 pull-ups in a row, your ladder will probably look like this: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7…1,2,3,4,5,6….1,2,3,5….1,2,3. That’s a total of about 64 reps. If you were to do pull-ups the classic way and go for three sets to failure, you would probably get 1×12, 1×10 and 1×8 which is 30 reps.
When doing your pull-up ladders make sure to always keep a rep or two in the bank. Never go to failure. The stimulation is supposed to be achieved through the massive volume – not by training to failure.
Related article: The Most Complete Pull-up Tutorial On The Internet
Will so much pull-ups cause elbow tendonitis?
It depends on how often you train and what other exercises you do. Extensive pull-up workouts should not be done more than three times a week. Also, you should’t do other exercises for your back except maybe for some lower back work. Otherwise the chances of over-training the small joints around the elbow and the wrist are quite high.
Will my back get bigger from doing so much pull-ups?
Of course, but don’t expect to develop the back of Simeon Panda by doing pull-ups. Without a doubt, however, such massive diet consisting of pull-ups after pull-ups will have positive effect on your V-taper.
Related article: How To Get Better At Weighted Pull-ups
Can I use ladders on other exercises?
Of course, technically that style can be used on almost all exercises. Make sure that your movement of choice is well tolerated by your joints. For example, if you are experiencing shoulder pain from dips, don’t do crazy things like ladders. It will destroy your joints.