Recon Ron (Pullup Program)

#1
I offer the following to any all individuals here interested in establishing dominance over that classic benchmark of fitness and upper body strength, the Pull Up Bar.

For backstory: I am currently in my 19th year of service in the mighty fine United States Marine Corps, I also spent 4 years in another military program geared toward preparing myself for a long and prosperous career of crayon eating, "YUT/KILL!!!" screaming, goofy haircuts, waking up insanely early, and high functioning alcoholism. The Pull Up is the event which gauges upper body strength by the Marine Corps value system on our annual Physical Fitness Test and every correctly performed repetition is awarded 5 points toward the overall score. Giving rise to its unofficial title "The Money Maker". (Abdominal Crunches being referred to as "The Freebie" and the 3 Mile Run as "The Suckfest" or just "The Suck".) I was introduced to the Recon Ron Pull Up Program by a fellow Officer during my tour at MCRD Parris Island, SC and ever since I adopted it I have never failed to achieve the Maximum number of Pull Ups for my age group on the PFT. (Typically 20, though the USMC recently changed the standards in order to fuck with us. Consult the USMC website to receive the Max value for your age group.)

Recon Ron Pullup Program Weekly Breakdown



***Note: In my personal experience I have never progressed beyond "Week 13" in preparing for the PFT and have had no issue executing 20 pull ups for a perfect score. When I am not preparing for the PFT I typically only do pullups 3 days a week (as opposed to 5 when in training) and I pick Weeks 4-6 to be my "maintenance" sets.

RULES/STANDARDS:
  • You need to be able to perform 6 pull ups in order to begin the program.
  • You have as much time as you need.
  • At no point is your chin allowed to rest on the bar.
  • Assistance to get into the pull-up position is allowed such as a stepping stool or lifted to the bar, but can not be used to help achieve the first pull-up, you must start from a dead hang.
  • Grasp the bar with your palms facing forward or to the rear.
  • Have your arms fully extended and feet free from touching the ground or any assisting mount with the body motionless, you are now in the starting position.
  • Your legs can be straight or bent but are not allowed to be above the waist.
  • Whipping, bicycle kicking, or kipping is not allowed and if observed that pull-up will result in no count for that pull-up.
  • A repetition requires raising your body until your chin is above the bar, then lowering until your arms are fully extended, and the body is once again at a dead hang.
I hope this helps folks increase their pull up count. Especially current/future Marines, Paratroopers, Ranger studs, and LE/Fire/EMS who have programs that require pullups as part of their physical assessments!
- Payback sends
 

tact

Regular Member
#4
I would argue that one would receive more benefit out of weighted pull-ups, lat pull downs, and variations of dbell and bbell rows over any pull-up program that has been passed around throughout the years.
 

krax

Regular Member
Network Support I
#5
I would argue that one would receive more benefit out of weighted pull-ups, lat pull downs, and variations of dbell and bbell rows over any pull-up program that has been passed around throughout the years.
Yes and no.

I wouldn't recommend weighted pull-ups to folks that can't knock out at least 10 regular pull-ups without kipping or kicking. I'm also not sure if lat pull-downs are all that useful to those that can do at least 10 pull-ups.

I do think that various rows and weighted pull-ups are staples in any good training program, along with straight-arm pull-downs and curls.

There's a time and place to train for the test, and sometimes the best way to train for your service's PT test is through specificity.

Is the Recon Ron program revolutionary? No. Is it bad or dangerous? No. If your elbows and shoulders can handle the volume and you currently don't have a pull-up improvement program for your next PT test, I'd say go for it.
 
#6
Rightly or wrongly I have found that the only surefire way to increase Pull-ups is to do Pull-ups. Not saying that you can't do it with weights and I'm sure that there are plenty of lifting programs that will get you one or two more toward a max set. When I was doing a lot of lifting in my workout routine I would find myself able to easily hit 16-18 on the PFT. I'm just convinced that being disciplined and following the Recon Ron is the shortest distance between two points if you're somebody who needs to max out every time. RR is what got me to the max every time.

As Krax said, if you don't have a pull-up program and you have a PFT coming, give Recon Ron a shot. It is by no means revolutionary, I concur. But I've never seen anybody who used it not make marked improvement. When I was a Series Commander I saw millions of pull ups executed, the Senior Drill Instructors who posted Recon Ron in their squadbays all had high statistical improvements in their platoons from the IST up to the Final PFT.
 
#7
Quick question...maybe dumb..but I have no knowledge of USNC fitness tests... I consider a pull up to have palms facing away from you and chin ups to have palms facing towards you. Very different muscle groups. Which version is used in this process?

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#8
You can use either. USMC allows both methods. Palms away or palms toward (pull vs chin up). Personally I am a palms away/ "classic" pull up kind of guy, but either one is acceptable.
 
#10
@Payback,

What are your thoughts on weighted pull ups?

I'm at the point where I can do 5x5 pull ups and I'm thinking when I can get to 5x8 I will add weight (why 8? Typically 5-8 reps is the recommended "strength" rep range).

Only weight I have though is a 32# kettlebell, and I'm not sure if I'd be able to do a pull up with that much weight. Could do negatives, I suppose.
 
#11
Rightly or wrongly I have found that the only surefire way to increase Pull-ups is to do Pull-ups. Not saying that you can't do it with weights and I'm sure that there are plenty of lifting programs that will get you one or two more toward a max set. When I was doing a lot of lifting in my workout routine I would find myself able to easily hit 16-18 on the PFT. I'm just convinced that being disciplined and following the Recon Ron is the shortest distance between two points if you're somebody who needs to max out every time. RR is what got me to the max every time.

As Krax said, if you don't have a pull-up program and you have a PFT coming, give Recon Ron a shot. It is by no means revolutionary, I concur. But I've never seen anybody who used it not make marked improvement. When I was a Series Commander I saw millions of pull ups executed, the Senior Drill Instructors who posted Recon Ron in their squadbays all had high statistical improvements in their platoons from the IST up to the Final PFT.
Agreed. My bench and my backsquat have ZERO to do with how many pushups or air-squats I can perform for time. I don't know why, and it ain't right, but it just is.