Brandon William is always looking for the next best way to challenge his body and fitness, from 30-day challenges to remarkable feats of strength and endurance. He’s previously challenged himself to train like a gymnast, give up sugar for 30 days, and even did 1 hour of pullups wearing a 30-pound vest. For his latest stunt, he challenged himself to master the one-arm pullup.
“The one-arm pullup is one of the most difficult calisthenics skills you can possibly learn,” he says.
He also notes that this move can take the average person up to a year to learn—but he’s giving himself 30 days to nail the exercise. To start, he did some research on how some other people trained to learn how to pull off the movement. Combined with his own calisthenics knowledge, he created a training routine to set him up for success.
“Risk of injury and developing tendonitis is quite high,” he says. So to avoid that, for each training session (2 to 3 times a week), he is focusing on just 3 different exercises:
Before he starts training, he attempts to do a one-arm pullup on each arm to get a baseline of his strength. He can’t pull off the movement with either arm.
“That is not easy. That is tough… I was not expecting it to be this difficult,” he says.
The next day he start his training, going in with the weighted pullups using a 55 pound weight chained around his waist, followed by the rest of the workout. After Day 1, he already had calluses. For Day 2, he switched his grip to a neutral one for the weighted pullups to help himself finish the reps. By Day 15, he still felt like he wasn’t progressing very much at all. So he called pro climber and fellow YouTuber Magnus Midtbø to get some advice.
Midtbø poses the question to William about which part of the pull up he struggles most with: the first or last part. Midtbø suggests that William practices ‘locking off’ (i.e. static holds) on his arm and holding himself there at just about 90 degrees, working his way up to a 10 second hold. From there, he should work on negative pullups.
This was the key. William also adds in Archer Pullups to his training, and by Day 30, he’s ready to test his strength. On his first attempt, he misses the rep by just one inch. But on the second, he nails it… but kicks his camera on the way up, which meant he needed to do a third attempt and final attempt. And his hard work paid off, because he crushed it on the third try.
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