Earlier this year, fitness YouTuber Alex Gharfeh committed to completing 50 clean pullups every single day for 30 days. While his original aim had been to hit 100 reps each day, totaling a godly 3,000 pullups by the end of the challenge, he eventually decided on a more achievable goal, tracking his progress as he went.
In the video, Gharfeh breaks the 50 pullups down into sets, as his pullup max is 10 reps in a row at the start of the challenge. After completing his first 50, he then wakes up on Day 2 aching all over. “My arms were sore, my elbows were sore, my back was sore, my abs were sore,” he says. “Everything was sore.”
That soreness abates after the first couple of days, and Gharfeh is able to continue with the challenge and work on his endurance. By the midpoint of the 30 days, he is proud of how “effortless” his pullups look, and he is able to do 18 wide grip pullups consecutively. “Don’t get me wrong, they’re not easy, they’re still a hard workout,” he says. “That’s why you have to keep practicing and practicing and practicing.”
Gharfeh switches between a wide hand grip and an underhand grip on the bodyweight exercise throughout the month. “I want to get different kinds of muscle stimulation,” he says, “therefore that requires different grips.”
By the time the challenge concludes on Day 30, he has improved his performance so much that he is now able to do 31 reps in a row without stopping — more than twice his original max. Completing 31 pullups in a single set also meant that he set his best time (under 10 minutes) for the 50 reps on the final day.
On Day 22, to mix up the challenge and make his daily round of pullups more interesting, Gharfeh makes some of them weighted, adding an extra 25 pounds to his reps. “Extra weight is no joke, but I guarantee if pullups start getting too easy for you, add some weight, it makes all the difference,” he says. “It makes it that much harder, which brings the fun and the challenge back into it.”
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“My arms definitely grew, my back definitely grew, I got a little bit of chest definition,” he says. “I can definitely tell the difference in my biceps and my back, my rear deltoids.”
Following the challenge, Gharfeh has scaled back on the number of pullups he’s doing, but still incorporates them into his upper body training. “I think pullups are a great way to gain strength in your arms and your back, as well as strengthening your core,” he says, “so I’ll definitely always be including pullups in my workout regimen.”
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