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 a Personal I recently learned about a man named Steven Proto who currently holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s heaviest weighted pull-up. The plates were tied together with a chain. So. you’ll see what he sent back.53 kg) and was achieved by Steven Proto (USA) at a personal gym in Edmond. Proto attached four gymnasium weight plates to a belt worn around his waist during the pull up. When I joined the Marines I knew to get a perfect PFT I would need to do 20 pull ups. Currently. I guess before we get into anything technical. The entire apparatus was weighed before and immediately after the attempt. I mean. why pull-ups? What’s so great about this exercise? Pull ups are a great test of upper body strength. Oklahoma. on 9 July 2011. I’ve done weighted pull-ups – sure. To think how much work went into that display of strength. I sent him a long list of questions. I train at home.”(Source: http://www. and asked if I could pick his brain about training. In the Marines the most I have ever done was 28 reps. I am thrilled to be hosting you for an interview. But first. 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. a little background info about Steven’s accomplishment from the Guinness World Record’s website… “The heaviest weighted pull up weighed 206. I’m sure it was anything but easy. 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. and for a living.2 lb (93. and the fact that the performance only took a few seconds from start to finish… but enough blabbing from me. USA. I got in touch with him. once I got out of the Marines I decided to start adding weight. When I left for boot camp my max was 14 reps. But nothing anywhere near this kind of performance.guinnessworldrecords. 3 .com/world-records/12000/heaviest-weightedpull-up) Not too shabby! That is some serious weight. He said. and below. they put the bicep in weaker position. Onto the interview… John: First off. I favor pull ups since they tend to be the most difficult. “sure!” So. And even though Steven made it look easy. I’ve conducted dozens of interviews in the past.

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

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

I use tennis racket wrap. If you plan on adding over 135 lbs. 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.)? I have not though about recovery methods for pull ups. What are some of your preferred recovery methods (e. they are bought in bulk by online venders at a dollar a piece and resold for $20+. dip belt. Some people will run the chain back though the second D ring. or across the front of your thighs. joint mobility. 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. yoga. I will upgrade the chain and clips on a cheap belt if it looks like it won’t hold the weight. you should spend the money on a strong nylon or leather belt. The orthopedic surgeon review my bicep MRI and couldn’t not find anything wrong that might require surgery. Kipping on weighted pull ups. active recovery. I just rest. Either between your legs (preferred). stretching. 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”. You want to avoid cheap belts made in Pakistan. not my waist. Those are the two I recommend. 6 . Changing the center of gravity will slightly affect the direction your back muscles pull.g. Go with a Spud Inc. When I’m done training. Wrapping your pull up bar is also helpful.see a specialist. I just go through the weights and back up and let my hips hold the weight. etc. I made my own bar from the ceiling because I wanted a 360 unobstructed view of my body for GWR. straight bar mounted high enough you can do a pull up with only a slight bend in your knees. or get a custom leather belt from Bob’s Belts. and wear it the same way constantly. A strong. 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.

You can rest between any number of sets. When I make attempts for over 200 lbs.facebook. Thanks. The key to hitting a heavy single rep is in your warm up. 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. added: five 45 lb. plates. I will do around 5 reps with 45 lbs. and many other impressing feats of strength and athleticism that most people could only dream of one-arm pull-ups. All you need is an imagination. avoid injuring 3 with 90. 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. This is a great way to increase the number of quality pull ups you can do in one set. I also post videos and information on my athlete Facebook page https://www. and 1 with 160. John Sifferman Health-First Fitness Coach Pull-up Training Extraordinaire 7 . Steven! Sincerely. If your goal is to do 30 pull ups. 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. I also suspect someone might beat it before then. 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..extremistpullup. I’ve seen footage of you doing extremely heavy weighted pull-ups. 2 with 135. Also. 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.You could build a bar outside or add a bar to an existing squat rack. Your form needs to be good – no kipping – the same way you would normally do them.

coaching. John became a certified personal trainer through the National Strength and Conditioning Association in 2006 and has been teaching. Connect with John: Physical Living Facebook Twitter Youtube Email Newsletter 8 . children. and training people in various capacities ever since. In 2008. and akita dog. 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. where he continues to share about health-first fitness and physical culture with his readers around the world. Since then.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. John launched his popular Physical Living website. John lives in the beautiful state of New Hampshire with his wife.