Use Depth Drop Plyometric Pullups for Maximal Strength, Power, Size, and Performance
Dr. Joel Seedman, Ph.D.
Here’s a unique way to incorporate overload on depth drop plyometric pullups.
As many of you know I’m a huge fan of unique weighted pullup and dip variations as I often recommend the straight leg dorsiflexion loading method or knee flexion load method (read more about these unique pull-up loading methods here). I also like to incorporate plyometric pullup variations into my routines as well as that of my athletes. Unfortunately these can be a bit tricky to progressively overload as most loading methods are not suitable for depth drop and plyometric pullups.
However, by using a medicine ball held between the feet and ankles, this allows us to safely and efficiently progressively overload plyometric and drop catch variations of pullups. The medicine ball adduction loading method also helps to create increased core tension which results in irradiation and concurrent activation potentiation (CAP) all of which helps increase neural drive to the working muscles. However, to fully maximize these effects it’s important that the individual keep the ankles and feet dorsiflexed throughout as this optimizes neural signaling and biomechanics.
Due to the extreme eccentric component and deceleration forces produced from the drop and catch, the amount of impact and force absorption on these is enormously high. As a result drop catch and plyometric pullup variations take advantage of both mechanical tension and muscle damage making them highly effective for producing gains in both strength and functional hypertrophy.
The med ball adduction loading method is also very effective for incorporating into traditional pullups. Unfortunately it can be somewhat difficult to fully overload with this method as most gyms either don’t have heavy medicine balls or most lifters simply don’t feel comfortable handling more than 15-20 pounds between their legs.
However the increased core activation produced from adduction and core tensing makes the adduction method a viable method for enhancing pullup mechanics particularly when paired with ankle dorsiflexion. To take advantage of this method while simultaneously overloading the movement, try combining two loading methods by using both the med ball adduction loading and the trap chain loading (place a chain around your upper traps) as shown here by one of my awesome NFL athletes Jarius Wynn.
Due to the high impact and micro-trauma produced from the plyometric pullup variations I typically recommend 3-4 sets of 3-5 reps while simultaneously pairing it with an explosive vertical pressing movement such as an overhead push press.
In addition, if you don’t have access to a pullup set-up with different height bars you can simply use the same bar and flip your grip in mid air to produce a similar effect as shown by one of my awesome clients Young Han.
Are These Really Plyometrics??
Technically none of these are exactly plyometrics in the official sense of the word as the eccentric is not followed immediately with a concentric. Instead there is a pause in between each phase to help deconstruct the movement and focus on using crisp and clean mechanics rather than rushing the exercise. So they're technically more of a dynamic explosive pullup with a drop and catch deceleration component. They have many many similarities to an actual plyometric though so to keep things simple for the reader I'm categorizing them in the same type of movement classification as plyometrics (explosive movements with a large deceleration emphasis). In terms of the training stimulus they produce, the effect is just as strong if not stronger than a standard plyometric however the individual can actually focus on mechanics and technique even more so which further enhances performance and muscle function.