Strength training with Bob Kezer: The pull-up

The elusive awe-inspiring pull-up.

Back in the day, like in the early to mid-90’s when it looked like we might have a chance for a preventive based health care system, I went professional with my strength training.

A book had come out titled, Biomarkers, by Evans and Rosenburg over at Tuffs, and it was the first solid research on what many of us had been saying for decades – that, “you’re not only never too old to regain muscle and strength, but the worse shape you’re in to start with, the quicker and more dramatic the results.”

Over the years working closely with the doctors in the area, my trainers and I implemented medical conditioning, pre-surgery/rehabilitation, and personal training programs for hundreds of people our community.

I owned a state-of-the-art Nautilus Next Generation weight assisted dip and pull-up machine in my strength center that was just the cat’s meow – it was so smooth, and almost every client worked out on it, from my youngest, an autistic lad of six, to my oldest, a sweet little lady of ninety-six named, of course, Virginia.

For those who don’t know, this type of rig had a counter weight that let a person kneel on a pad, grab the pull-up bar, and execute the movement with as little weight as I wanted them to use. In other words, I could start a client doing a pull-up with only 20 pounds of effort. And then, slowly, work them up to body weight. Progression, with perfect form in small steps with adequate recovery, is the key.

And my clients loved it. Yes, they got stronger, more flexible, and free of previous shoulders pain, but what I noticed the most was the confidence it gave them. It changed the way they walked and talked, and increased their desire to train more and engage life. The more progress they made, the more they wanted. Mastering the pull-up transformed those people, and not just their bodies.

Physical prowess. You want it, you have to earn it. One rep at a time. There are no short cuts in physiology. And mastering your pull-up game, is requisite.

When done correctly, the pull-up displays grace, power, physical mastery and it’s the primary posterior chain full body weight exercise for maintaining shoulder health and upper body strength. It rocks.

When not done so well, the people watching you cringe and turn away, you struggle and lose confidence, and the long-term result is you hurt your shoulders and stop training. That, sucks.

And know this, after you’re twenty-five years old or so if you’re not strength training then you’re on a progressive descent to being alive but not cognitively capable or functionally independent (they are very much connected), and usually with a lot of excess fat weight. Which is not how anyone wants to end up.

If you can’t do a pull up now, being able to do so will not only transform your life, but you will also be learning a skill allowing you to maintain and enhance that life for as long as you’re rolling on the planet.

If you are doing pullups now, but you’re not confident you’re doing them in perfect form, then stop doing them until you can correct the problems. Otherwise, the long-term damage is worse than the short-term ego boost. Work it out yourself or use me, but don’t procrastinate on this one or you’ll end up just another meathead in the gym that petered out and now tells has-been stories.

And, if you’re one of the few people who has managed to work up to 10 – 15 perfect pull-ups, congratulations. Like big time. Take a bow, it’s well deserved. That said, I also bet that you’ve been stuck at a certain number for a while and would like to, say, maybe double that number?

I’m taking applications for three classes, Pull-up Workshop Levels 1, 2, and 3.

Level 1, is for someone wanting their first perfect pull-ups up to those who are in that real shaky 1-5 pull-up range. With this class, we begin with band-assisted pullups and progress to full body weight pull-ups.

Level 2, is for those who can do 4-5 or more perfect pull-ups, and who want to at least double that number. In this class, we work with body weight from the start.

Level 3, is for those who can pull 15 or so perfect body weight pull-ups, and now want to do that many with 10, 15, or more kilos added to their body weight, or do a super high number with body weight, or maybe they’re in search of that incomprehensible one-arm free hanging pull-up. This level is like superman stuff.

Workshops are six weeks long and broken into two phases of three weeks each with no brake between phases (18 classes, total). If you decide to take the next level workshop after graduating the initial, there’s a mandatory one week break (hint: after six-weeks of intense strength training you’ll usually need a week of rest for the body to fully integrate the stimulus it’s received). Classes are three times per week, either Mon, Wed, and Fri or Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The first class will last a little longer, but after that figure 30 minutes or a little less on site.

Age, in and of itself, is not a disqualifier to participate. So if you’re terced edad (starting Sunday I get my own special line in the bank and all the other goodies!), and you’ve held it together pretty well up to this point, fill out a questionnaire and let’s see what we can do.

Classes start (ojalá) Monday, 25 September.

English and Spanish.
Both men and women.

The location is Alfonso Morena Mora and Lorenzo Piedra. I’m considering both morning and afternoon classes, depending on the need.

The Level 1 class (learning phase) is limited to two people. The cost is $195 per person.

The Levels 2 and 3 classes (development phases) are limited to 3 people. The cost is $145 per person.

Payment in cash, up-front, and non-refundable.

COHAB BJJ teammates and prior clients get a 20% discount.

I will also consider training at your location, or holding seminars out of town.

NOTE: If you have a group of people who want to do it all together, say 3 people or more wanting the Level 1 class at the same time slot, we can do that if it’s okay that at one point in the class two of you will be standing aside watching for up to 15 minutes while the other two train, and then you will switch. If you’re all friends coming together, that’s fine. In that case, expect the class to take up to 15-20 minutes longer. There is also no discount for more people, but you’ll all get the same exceptional care.

Email me for a questionnaire to get started. For those eligible, I’ll have a YouTube video uploaded shortly to explain the program further.

Defend liberty.
Protect our kids.
Serve man for God…and do your strength training!

Suerte, everyone.
Bob Kezer, PhD

Alfonso Morena Mora y Lorenzo Piedra

Bob Kezer

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