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Interview with Steven Proto

about Pull-up Training for
Maximal Strength
By John Sifferman

Learn how Steven Proto trained to set the Guinness World
Record for the World’s Heaviest Weighted Pull-up and how
YOU can model his approach to get really strong with pullups, weighted pull-ups, and one-arm pull-ups.
© The Pull-up Solution, John Sifferman, 2014. All rights reserved.

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I am thrilled to be hosting you for an interview. I’ve done weighted pull-ups – sure. and the fact that the performance only took a few seconds from start to finish… but enough blabbing from me. When I left for boot camp my max was 14 reps.guinnessworldrecords. and for a living. why pull-ups? What’s so great about this exercise? Pull ups are a great test of upper body strength. I guess before we get into anything technical. but I believe you’re the first of my interviewees whom actually holds a Guinness World Record.Interview with Steven Proto about Pull-up Training for Maximal Strength By John Sifferman Note: a version of this interview originally appeared on PhysicalLiving. I train at home. and asked if I could pick his brain about training. In the Marines the most I have ever done was 28 reps. once I got out of the Marines I decided to start adding weight. To think how much work went into that display of strength. Oklahoma. I’ve conducted dozens of interviews in the past. Currently. 3 . But nothing anywhere near this kind of performance. He said.”(Source: Not too shabby! That is some serious weight. I’m sure it was anything but easy. So. and below.2 lb (93. “sure!” So. I got in touch with him. you’ll see what he sent back. The plates were tied together with a chain. Onto the interview… John: First off. The entire apparatus was weighed before and immediately after the attempt. I sent him a long list of questions. a little background info about Steven’s accomplishment from the Guinness World Record’s website… “The heaviest weighted pull up weighed 206. Proto attached four gymnasium weight plates to a belt worn around his waist during the pull I recently learned about a man named Steven Proto who currently holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s heaviest weighted pull-up. And even though Steven made it look easy. they put the bicep in weaker position. I favor pull ups since they tend to be the most difficult. I am a Personal Banker. But first. USA.53 kg) and was achieved by Steven Proto (USA) at a personal gym in Edmond. could you tell us a little bit about yourself including your background in fitness and also what you do today? Steven: I first started weight training in my junior year in high school. I mean. When I joined the Marines I knew to get a perfect PFT I would need to do 20 pull ups. on 9 July 2011.

e. On other days I would pyramid up and back down though each of those for 6 sets. Then one day I was skimming though REPS! Magazine I saw an article about Tim Ferguson. What other exercises do you use in your training program besides pull-ups? While training for a pull up contest I find doing pull ups is the best thing. He did one rep with a 202 lb. Being active and preparing for competition whether it is online or in real life is the best motivation. I have a daily log posted on my website on what I did each day. A few rules are an overhand grip (pronated grip) must be used. everything else upper body gets put on hold. What was your training routine like to prepare for a world record attempt? While training for my weighted pull up world record I did weighted pull ups 4 days a week following various routines. arms. what would it be? Having competition has made the biggest impact of my success. dumbbell to himself. Among the witnesses must be at least one person familiar with proper pullup technique (i. curls. legs shoulders. i. chest. Any special diet considerations or nutrition strategies? I would consume 200 grams of protein and enough calories to maintain my bodyweight. On different days. and shoulders. but you probably knew that already! 4 . The weight needs to be weighted before and after the attempt. the body must remain straight throughout. personal trainer). I was able to beat his record with a total of 402 lbs. If you could pin-point one thing that had the biggest impact on your success. Note from John: Starting Strength is a great book. no bending at the waist (we will accept slight bending at the knees). I have also built a power lifting routine around Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength. medium weight for 3-5 reps and heavy weight 1-2 reps. of total weight. When I hit a plateau I will let up and train with rows.e. A year later I contacted Guinness World Records to see if they had a category for just the weight added then they sent me a record breakers pack.When did you realize that you wanted to break a world record for pull-ups? At the time I could do 1 rep with 160 lbs. I would train 4-5 sets with light weight for 6-12 reps. Even though it was a chin up and only counted total weight I contacted the record keeper for this record and he sent me the guide lines. from. and I thought that was pretty awesome. and a must-read for strength athletes. When I take a complete break I train 5 days a week back. which I gained 20 lbs.

Once I break tempo with a few seconds rest I always get just 5 more. What would you recommend for someone who cannot do a single pull-up yet? I would first start with chin-ups if you can do those. for 6. for 12. Have you experienced any injuries. that you like to use and why? I have not tried any other pull up variations as part of my routine. Curls and rows will be useful but your primary focus should be weighted pull ups. how did you deal with them? I have had lingering bicep pain I believe is caused by inflammation from over hand grip pull ups. for 2. Your bicep is not in its strongest position while doing pull ups. 50% of bodyweight for 5 reps. Are there any other advanced pull-up variations. For max bodyweight reps I do them fast and steady. Do you know of any recognized strength standards when it comes to weighted pullups (e. assistance is fine. I went to 5 . etc.g. It all depends on your type of training and how conditioned you are. I feel training with weighted pull ups has helped and I just made attempts until I was able to do them. 2/3 of bodyweight for 3 reps. for 1. If your goal is to do 1-2 reps you should be adding only enough assistance to do 1-5 reps. It is half way between supination and pronation and any strain can lead to a lingering pain. I feel anything that isn’t straight up and down could cause injury.)? There aren’t ratios for body weight and added weight. Once you can do a couple of reps with your own body weight unassisted reps are the way to go. I never trained for them specifically. and 180 lbs.Do you find any value in specific assistance exercises to improve pull-up and chin-up performance? Unless you are unable to do a single rep. and 205 lbs. Around the same time I could do 100 lbs. 160 lbs. Is there a logical progression of exercises that one can use to build up to heavy weighted pull-ups and other advanced variations? The best way to get better at weighted pull ups is weighted pull ups. and if so. And how about the rarely seen one-arm pull-up? How did you go about working up to this feat of strength? These are one of the pull up variations that I would only attempt once and a while. Assisted pull ups are the best option but you have to be careful not to add to much assistance. There are many was to train for them but I just never did. besides weighed pull-ups. every time.

or across the front of your thighs. What are some of the unique challenges or limiting factors that come with heavy pull-up training and how do you address them? A comfortable dip belt to hold the weight and strong enough chain. What are some of your preferred recovery methods (e.)? I have not though about recovery methods for pull ups. straight bar mounted high enough you can do a pull up with only a slight bend in your knees. active recovery. yoga. dip belt. I just go through the weights and back up and let my hips hold the weight. A strong. Those are the two I recommend. etc. What are some of the common mistakes you’ve seen from beginners who start doing weighted pull-ups? Not performing warm-up sets with light weight. Also it needed to be high enough that I would only have a “slight bend in my knees”. What are the benefits of building your own equipment and what are some of the more popular/useful options out there that someone could consider? Building a bar may not be the best choice for everyone. Changing the center of gravity will slightly affect the direction your back muscles pull. or get a custom leather belt from Bob’s Belts. they are bought in bulk by online venders at a dollar a piece and resold for $20+. Either between your legs (preferred). joint mobility.g. I will upgrade the chain and clips on a cheap belt if it looks like it won’t hold the weight. and wear it the same way constantly. I use tennis racket wrap. stretching. I made my own bar from the ceiling because I wanted a 360 unobstructed view of my body for GWR. not my waist. Some people will run the chain back though the second D ring. Kipping on weighted pull ups. I just rest. If you plan on adding over 135 lbs. 6 . You want to avoid cheap belts made in Pakistan. When I’m done training.see a specialist. Go with a Spud Inc. What are some of your favorite pull-up training tools and equipment (especially home gym equipment) and why? Any must-have investments? Dip belt is a must have. Wrapping your pull up bar is also helpful. The orthopedic surgeon review my bicep MRI and couldn’t not find anything wrong that might require surgery. you should spend the money on a strong nylon or leather belt.

com/ExtremistPullup. Do you have any advice for someone who wants to work toward achieving some of the impressive feats you have? Train weighted pull ups consistently and mix up your routine if you stop seeing results. 2 with 135. and 1 with 160. I also suspect someone might beat it before then.facebook. John Sifferman Health-First Fitness Coach Pull-up Training Extraordinaire 7 . The key to hitting a heavy single rep is in your warm up. When I make attempts for over 200 lbs. Your form needs to be good – no kipping – the same way you would normally do them.. Steven! Sincerely. Do you have any plans for setting or breaking more world records in the future? I would like to beat my own record with 225 lbs. Also. I’ve seen footage of you doing extremely heavy weighted pull-ups.You could build a bar outside or add a bar to an existing squat rack. you want to train in the rep range you will want to be it or train with a short enough break that you have that muscular fatigue. 3 with 90. and many other impressing feats of strength and athleticism that most people could only dream of doing. If your goal is to do 30 pull ups. one-arm pull-ups. This is a great way to increase the number of quality pull ups you can do in one set. You can rest between any number of added: five 45 lb. I also post videos and information on my athlete Facebook page https://www. Where is the best place to find more information about you and your work? I have detailed information about how and where I train on my website http://www. I will do around 5 reps with 45 lbs. avoid injuring yourself. Thanks.extremistpullup. All you need is an imagination. plates. Could you share one of your favorite pull-up workouts? One of my favorite pull up routines for endurance is 100 reps in the shortest time possible.

and akita dog. In 2008. Since then. John launched his popular Physical Living website. and training people in various capacities ever since. John has had an ever-growing interest in physical training that has led him to work with people from all walks of life to assist them in their pursuit of better health and fitness.About the Author John Sifferman fell in love with pull-up training at the ripe old age of eleven after his Dad setup a homemade pull-up bar in the basement of his home. where he continues to share about health-first fitness and physical culture with his readers around the world. John lives in the beautiful state of New Hampshire with his wife. Connect with John: Physical Living Facebook Twitter Youtube Email Newsletter 8 . John became a certified personal trainer through the National Strength and Conditioning Association in 2006 and has been teaching. coaching. children.