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3 drills to better your pullups from record-holder Alicia Weber

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Alicia Weber

A screen shot from Alicia Weber’s record-setting inverted rows video.

When Alicia Weber was a little kid, no one ever told her girls can’t do pullups. And if they did, she never listened.

“I started pullup training at, 4 and I am still going strong at 33,” says Weber, a personal trainer and wide-ranging athlete. Of course when you lay claim to a slew of world records, “going strong” takes on a whole new meaning.

Weber says she’s broken more than 400 fitness records since 2008. At RecordSetter.com – the Wikipedia-like answer to the Guinness collection – she currently holds nearly 200 titles.

Among her more than two dozen pullup records: 57 consecutive pullups and 43 pullups in one minute. If you want to beat her most egg-on-spoon-in-mouth-pullups-in-one-minute record (yes, that’s a thing), you’ll have beat her 16 reps.

But you don’t have to be addicted to setting records to get good at one of her favorite exercises.

While that first pullup is always the hardest, she says, with these three drills you’ll be knocking them out in no time. Do them long enough, and maybe you can break Weber’s records for each these exercises as well.

Inverted rows

Also known as a reclined row, start by lying under a bar at least 30 inches off the ground. Grab the bar with your hands about shoulder-width apart, with a standard palms-out pullup grip.

“Beginners should start with legs bent and feet flat on the ground. Advanced exercisers will perform the exercise with legs straight out and heels on the ground,” Weber says. Begin by hanging from the bar with arms fully extended, then pull up to end one to three inches from the bar. Your back should remain straight throughout.

Do the exercise quickly, but correctly, to build aerobic power.  Do it slowly, at fewer reps, to build muscle, Weber says.

Here’s her record-setting video

Monkey bar arm walks

Get back out on the playground for this old recess favorite.

“This exercise is easier than a pullup because the arms can be held in extension the whole time,” Weber says. It’s great for building many of the same muscles you’ll need for pullups.

Practice arm walking the monkey bars for 30 to 60 seconds going both forward and backward.

Here’s how she does it

Flexed arm hang walking

This is best to perform on steel parallel bars, ideally about waist high, but the outside rails on monkey bars work as well.

Palms should be facing each other. Weber likes to tuck her knees up toward her chest.

“Maintain a flexed arm hang for the entire duration of the exercise and walk the bars forward and backward without rest for 30-60 seconds.”

Here’s her record setter

Jon R. Anderson is a staff writer for OFFduty. Contact him at jona@militarytimes.com.

Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson is a writer for OFFduty. Reach him at jona@militarytimes.com.