How to Build a Nice Back with Pull-Ups & Calisthenics in 6 Months (My Story)

Yes, it’s entirely possible to develop a wide and strong back with a pull-up bar and calisthenics in 6 months. Here’s how I did it.

What you will need?

  • Progressive workouts with proper form
  • Consistent healthy nutrition 
  • Dedication
  • Enough Sleep and Rest Days

1. Progressive workouts with Proper Form

When I first started doing pull-ups I was very weak. I could barely do even one pull-up. 

But I was very eager to learn. In time I gained enough strength so I could easily do 12-15 with strict form in a row. 

Which developed my back and my physique.

Here’s how I did it.

Proper Form

In case you are not very sure what is good form when doing a pull-up I would recommend you to watch this video because it’s easier than me trying to write everything down. It’s short and on point. 

Workout

Goal: do 4 sets with between 6 and 10 pull-ups (for size and strength)

If you don’t have any strength to do even one pull-up I highly recommend you to hold the bar jump until your head is above the bar and then slowly lower yourself until your arms are straight. 

Do this for 6 reps x 4 sets (with 60 seconds rest between the sets).

If you have the strength to do more than 2-3 pull-ups, do as many as you can and then use the same technique to jump and reach around 10 reps x 4 sets (rest again 60 seconds).

In case you have the power to do more than 12 pull-ups with good form, you can use a weighted vest or a backpack filled with heavy things. (this is my current weighted vest in case you are interested)

More Bodyweight Exercises For Back

If you want to get quicker results and better developed back here are some other exercises you can include in your upper body workout. (I like to combine all 3 in 1 workout)

  • Chin-Ups (do 3-4 sets of them after the pull-ups with same rep range and jump technique)
  • Horizontal Pull Ups (3-4 sets at the end of your workout – you will have to find a place to do them)

Progressive Overload 

In simpler words aim to become stronger by doing one more pull-up, adding a bit more weight or decreasing the rest time between the sets with every workout you do. (increasing intensity and difficulty).

I personally did it by doing my best to do one more rep and the very last set when my body was tired. 

Example

Reached goal: 8 pull-ups (last set) 

New goal: 9 pull-ups (last set)

Helpful Tip: I have a separate small notebook where I write all the exercises, number of reps and added additional weight (if any) after every workout to track my progress. I recommend you do the same. It does help a lot.

Remember without any progress you won’t see any results.

2. Consistent Healthy Nutrition 

Don’t worry, I won’t tell you to use a super specific nutrition plan with X amount of protein, carbs and calories because you likely won’t. (I personally didn’t at the beginning)

Instead I tried my best to eat healthy foods that are high in protein and are nutritional. (you all know them – eggs, milk, meat, whole-grain foods, vegetables, fruits, etc.)

Everybody has access and likes different foods so choose the ones you like that are healthy. (You must like them if you want to eat them regularly!)

For me this simple plan worked perfectly during the first 6 month of my calisthenics journey and I saw great results.

Once you get a bit more advanced аnd gain some experience and mass I recommend you to start counting calories so you are in a caloric surplus (you eat more calories than you burn every day in order to build muscle and strength)

3. Enough Sleep and Rest Days

According to this scientific study [1] in order to maximize muscle growth you need to sleep at least 7-8 hours every night. 

So if you really want to get better with calisthenics like I did, simply aim to get to bed between 10-12 am and sleep until 6-8 every day. (You will also feel great and be more productive)

As for rest days and days between workouts it’s recommended to have 48 hours (2 days) between the same workouts (for example targeting your back) and at least 1 rest day every week. [2]

Example

  • Monday – Back
  • Tuesday – Chest and Arms
  • Wednesday – Legs
  • Thursday – Back 
  • Friday – Chest and Arms
  • Saturday – Legs
  • Sunday – Rest Day

That’s how I still do it and it works perfectly. Simply hit every muscle group 2 times per week with 2 days rest between the workouts.

4. Dedication

Getting in shape is a long process, not a short event. 

You won’t get strong and healthy with only 3 workouts, one day per week with healthy food and look like Superman in 2 weeks. 

All who tell you this are liars, want to sell you a dream or don’t have any real experience with sport and healthy lifestyle.

There aren’t any shortcuts when it comes to your health and physique. It’s all hard work and dedication.

But I can promise you that if you stick to everything I said above you will build a great physique (not only back) and feel like a completely new person in a couple of months.

Just remember to workout consistently, aim to become stronger with every workout, eat healthy and sleep enough.

The rest will come.

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