The pull-up is one of the main upper body exercises. It is tough and mastering it is an impressive sign of strength.
If you want to increase the number of pull-ups you can do, there are several programs available on the Internet for that.
Here are a few.
1) The Armstrong Pull-up Program
This is perhaps the most famous pull-up program on the Net.
It states “This program was developed by Major Charles Lewis Armstrong. Major Armstrong
developed this workout to prepare him to set a new world record in number of pull-ups
completed in a single exercise session.”
It has five days of training per week, with different instructions for each day.
You will need to keep track of your numbers for yourself, so that you know how many sets to do.
2) Recon Ron Pull-up Program
There seems to be little information on the origins of this plan, but it is often mentioned when pull-up programs are discussed. The program is fairly straight-forward. Each training day, you do 5 sets of pull-ups. The number of pull-ups to be done in each set is specified for you. The next week, the number of pull-ups to be done per day increases slightly. No further instructions are given, but you can get guidelines from other people on the Internet.
I chose this one myself because of it simplicity. I simply read and do. I do the pull-ups 3 times a week, with about 3 minutes rest between sets. I also change my grip from set to set.
2b) Pre-Recon Ron
Please note that the Recon Ron program instructs you to do 6 pull-ups in the first set. Since not everyone may be able to do that, I looked at how the Recon Ron program was written and wrote the Pre-Recon Ron pull-up program, to take you from 1 pull-up to 6.
3) 20 pull-ups
This one was inspired by hundredpushups.com. First you do a test, then depending on the results, you follow one of three columns given, and simply do the number of pull-ups specified, mostly in 5 sets. Rest intervals are also suggested for you.
You are to train 3 days a week. There is provision for those unable to do a pull-up to work towards doing them.
4) Art Of Manliness
http://artofmanliness.com/2008/07/08/pull-ups-fitness-routine/ has a pull-up routine as well, that increases the total number of pull-ups done in a workout, by adjusting sets and reps from week to week.
5) Marine Officer Programs
This document (PDF) has 5 programs. The programs seem to have been designed for anyone who simply wants to do pull-ups, not necessarily for someone who wants to increase the number they can do, but you might find them useful in increasing your numbers.
6) Physical Living
This article has a rather elaborate 3-month program that says it will help you rapidly increase your pull-up numbers in 3 months or less.
Like I said, I chose the Recon Ron program because of its simplicity. I like clear instructions. (Maybe I am just lazy 🙂 ). It has certainly worked for me. The first few weeks, I struggled to complete the sets as stated. This was when I was required to do sets of around 5 pull-ups! I have seen definite increase in numbers, and I can currently do at least 10 without struggling, and I can hang on to the bar and complete a set of 18.
One of my problems with programs that do not tell me a specific number of reps to do, is that I may get soft on myself and not push to do one or two more reps, when I actually can do them. If a program dictates that I do 18 reps, then I will try hard to do the 18. But if it just says I do my max, I may stop at 12, when actually I could have pushed to maybe 16.
My other problem is that I do not want to have to write down or remember my performance at various points, then use this information to calculate what I am expected to do at another point and so on.
This is only a partial listing. There are other programs out there. Pick whichever program you prefer, and increase your pullups.
All the best!