Pavel’s Fighter Pull-up Program Optimized For Naturals

| by Truth Seeker |

My first run of Pavel Tsatsouline’s Fighter Pull-up Program resulted in overtraining. This is hardly a surprise since the routine calls for 25 days of high volume. If you are not familiar with the actual program, it looks a little something like this:

The 5RM Fighter Pull-up 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

Explanation: The program above is for people who can do only 5 good pull-ups in a row. You do 5 sets. The first set is to failure. Every following set has one less rep. The next day you add a rep to the last set. One day later, you add a rep to the set before the last one….etc.

I did it for ten days before burning out. My forearms were sore, and my life outside of the gym was affected too. I hated it, but my ego told me to continue. At one point, however, I actually started to regress.

The reason for my failure was not me. I did my part of the deal, but the program failed, and I decided to modify it.

I added 4 days of rest after each session. It worked. My recovery was on point, and I was stronger each session. It took me a few more weeks to finish the program, but I remained injury free and took my reps from 6 to about 14.

I also decided to completely ignore the advice of Pavel to perform the pull-ups in the so-called “hollow” position. His reasoning behind the hollow technique is that when a fighter is in a boxing stance, he is not sticking his chest out. It’s the opposite – the chin is down, and the chest is a little bit tucked in. Well, guess what? Pull-ups done in this fashion irritated my shoulders and hurt the mind-muscle connection with the lats. Instead, I did the classic bodybuilding pull-up on rings with my chest sticking out as much as possible. This version provides a much better contraction and saves your joints.

Having said that, I loved the program. I just don’t think it’s made for average humans like me. When choosing a routine, you need to think from your own perspective. Otherwise, the plan will fail.

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2 comments

  1. Adan

    Very good article. I already knew this system and I did not want to try it because I thought that what happened to you would happen to me. Now I have almost found your article by chance and I have some doubts:

    1- Do you want to say that you did the routine 1 day and you rested 4 until the next day?
    2- How much time did you rest between each series: is there a maximum or minimum time or did you do it according to your feelings?
    3- Do you contained much other exercises like legs, chest, abs …?

    Thank you!

  2. Thomas

    No Sir, I do not agree !!! These programs (FPP 3RM and FPP 5RM, both weighted) work great for me and I’m turning 60 in a few month. But you have to focus on the program, do everything else only ‘minimal’ so that you don’t loose (too) much. Additional rest days or training every other day is also OK, but 4 rest days needed between sessions shows that you have done too much other stuff.

    Kind regards T.

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