If I’m pressed for time and trying to squeeze some movement into my day, my go-to option is a quick ego-boosting upper-body workout and this is one of the best you’ll find. Trust me, I tried it.
“This will cause extreme swelling in the upper body,” warns Chris Hemsworth’s trainer Luke Zocchi, who shared the two-move session with his 312,000 Instagram followers.
He’s not wrong either. Though it took just six minutes, the bodyweight workout left me walking a little taller, and with an enviable chest and back pump.
All you need to give it a go is a pull-up bar and something to do dips on—parallel bars in a gym, a pair of chairs placed opposite each other, or gymnastic rings (my preferred option).
Zocchi describes this session as a “little burner to try in your next chest and back session”. You can use it as a workout finisher, part of a wider hypertrophy training routine or when you’re in need of an upper-body pump, pronto.
A photo posted by on
Zocchi changes his grip for each round of the pull-ups. He begins with an angled grip, progresses to a hammer grip with palms facing, goes underhand to grind out six chin-ups, and finishes with an overhand grip.
I added another two elements to the workout. Firstly, every set had to be unbroken. This provided an extra test for my muscular endurance and added a tactical element to the session—if I rushed into the next set, I risked failing the seventh pull-up out of eight and having to restart the round.
I also placed an extra round of two reps at the end, it just felt like a neater way to tie things up.
They seemed like a good idea at the time, but by the second round I was struggling. Interestingly, it was only the pull-ups that proved problematic, highlighting where my weaknesses lie.
My opening 10 reps went well and I took a tiny rest between sets. But when I found myself straining my chin skywards as I ground out my final rep on the next round, I realized that had been a mistake.
My rest times grew longer for the final rounds, and my strict pull-up form went from picture-perfect to just about justifiable.
One saving grace was that each round involved fewer reps than the last. Of course, this helps physically, but mentally it’s reassuring to know that your largest sets are behind you. For this reason, I was able to persuade myself not to let my rest periods drag on and wrap things up in a little under six minutes.
How To Scale This Workout
Pull-ups are notoriously difficult, and if the idea of 28 reps, even with different grips, seems out of reach, you can still perform this workout with a few adjustments. Use a long-looped resistance band to perform assisted pull-ups—the more resistance the band offers the easier it will be—or an assisted pull-up machine at the gym. Coach’s triceps dips exercise guide also includes easier variations using a weights bench so you find a version you can manage, too.
And to improve your back strength for pull-ups, try this pull-up workout plan for beginners and you’ll be pulling your chin above the bar like a pro in just a month.
For help choosing, read our tried-and-tested guide to the best pull-up bars.
Get the Coach Newsletter
Sign up for workout ideas, training advice, reviews of the latest gear and more.