Russian Fighter PULL UP Program for 30 Days Straight | My Results | NoobStrength

I did the Russian Fighter Pullup Program for 30 Days Straight! Here are my results!

My Russian Fighter Pullup Program results video

Hey everyone. So in an attempt to be more of a boss, I decided to attempt the Russian Fighter Pullup Program for 30 days.

Basically, the goal of the program is to increase the number of pull-ups that you can do in a single set.

Why is it called the Russian Fighter Pullup Program? Well, we don't really know.

The author's name has unfortunately been lost in time. Presumably, it was probably made by some strong Russian dude. It also just so happens that every Russian person I know is really strong. Not to mention, Russians are usually portrayed in the media as strong. So logically, a program made by them must be pretty legit in getting you strong!

Despite having an unknown author, the program was popularized by a man named Pavel Tsatsouline. Pavel is often credited as the guy who brought the kettlebell to America and is also the founder of StrongFirst, a school of strength. I am certified through them as a bodyweight instructor.

The link to the article where I originally found the program can be found here, which is actually written by Pavel himself.

Also, a video version of this post is viewable here on my YouTube channel! You can see my beginning and end rep maxes at 1:00 and 2:52.

Preparing for the Russian Fighter Pullup Program

Before I started the program, I had to figure out where I was at currently. This meant that I would have to do a maximum set of pull-ups. So I hopped on the pull-up bar and went to work.

I ended up getting 11 reps.

11 pull-ups honestly isn't too bad but isn't amazing either.

On Strengthlevel.com, 11 reps put me in the novice category just 3 reps shy of intermediate.

And on physicalliving.com, I fell into the Advanced category but just barely.

Still, being considered "Advanced" is certainly better than not and did make me feel a bit better!

After I tested my max, it was time to start the program.

How the Russian Fighter Pullup Program works

The program is a 5 days on, 1 day off program. Meaning, you'll be doing pull-ups for 5 days straight before taking the 6th day off. Yes, it is a pretty high volume program. Each day, you will do 5 sets of pull-ups with the first set being the highest number of reps and the subsequent reps being one rep lower than in the previous set.

The default version of the Russian Fighter Pullup Program is for someone who can do a maximum of 5 repetitions in a single set.

Here is what the actual days look like in the 5RM program 

  • Day 1     5, 4, 3, 2, 1

  • Day 2     5, 4, 3, 2, 2

  • Day 3     5, 4, 3, 3, 2

  • Day 4     5, 4, 4, 3, 2

  • Day 5     5, 5, 4, 3, 2

  • Day 6     Off

  • Day 7     6, 5, 4, 3, 2

  • Day 8     6, 5, 4, 3, 3

  • Day 9     6, 5, 4, 4, 3

  • Day 10    6, 5, 5, 4, 3

  • Day 11    6, 6, 5, 4, 3

  • Day 12    Off

  • Day 13    7, 6, 5, 4, 3

  • Day 14    7, 6, 5, 4, 4

  • Day 15    7, 6, 5, 5, 4

  • Day 16    7, 6, 6, 5, 4

  • Day 17     7, 7, 6, 5, 4

  • Day 18    Off

  • Day 19    8, 7, 6, 5, 4

  • Day 20    8, 7, 6, 5, 5

  • Day 21    8, 7, 6, 6, 5

  • Day 22    8, 7, 7, 6, 5

  • Day 23    8, 8, 7, 6, 5

  • Day 24    Off

  • Day 25    9, 8, 7, 6, 5

  • Day 26    9, 8, 7, 6, 6

  • Day 27    9, 8, 7, 7, 6

  • Day 28    9, 8, 8, 7, 6

  • Day 29    9, 9, 8, 7, 6

  • Day 30    Off

However, my rep max was 11 so following the 5 rep max program to a T would not have been the best idea. The only other variations to the program are a 3RM program, a 15RM progra, and a 25RM program, which can be found on the original article on StrongFirst.com

Logically then, I would have to modify one of the programs to suit my particular situation. 

After asking around, I decided that I would simply do the 5RM program except change the reps so that it starts at 11. 

Here is how I modified the 5RM Fighter Pullup Program for an 11RM

If you looked at the 5RM program, you'll see that on day 1, your first set will be the same number of reps as your max, which in my case was 11. Your second set is one rep less than the first, so 10 in my case. The third set is another rep less, so 9. The fourth is yet another at 8 and the last is, again, one rep less at 7 reps. So the total rep count for your 5 sets on day 1 is 11,10,9,8,7.

On day 2, you simply add a rep to the last set bringing the reps to 11, 10, 9, 8, 8 for me.

On day 3, you add a rep to the second last set, bringing it to 11, 10, 9, 9, 8 for me.

On day 4, you add a rep to the set before that at 11, 10, 10, 9, 8 for me.

Do the same for day 5, bringing it to 11, 11, 10, 9, 8 for me.

Then you take a rest day on day 6.

On day 7, you add a rep to your first set, bringing it to 12, 11, 10, 9, 8 in my case. Then the cycle repeats itself.

You would then do this for 30 straight days.

Yes, the rest days count as one of the days. 

After the end of the 30 days, you take a few days off and then retest your max.

Here is the exact 11RM Russian Fighter Pullup Program that I did

  • Day 1 11, 10, 9, 8, 7

  • Day 2 11, 10, 9, 8, 8

  • Day 3 11, 10, 9, 9, 8

  • Day 4 11, 10, 10, 9, 8

  • Day 5 11, 11, 10, 9, 8

  • Day 6 Off

  • Day 7 12, 11, 10, 9, 8

  • Day 8 12, 11, 10, 9, 9

  • Day 9 12, 11, 10, 10, 9

  • Day 10 12, 11, 11, 10, 9

  • Day 11 12, 12, 11, 10, 9

  • Day 12 Off

  • Day 13 13, 12, 11, 10, 9

  • Day 14 13, 12, 11, 10, 10

  • Day 15 13, 12, 11, 11, 10

  • Day 16 13, 12, 12, 11, 10

  • Day 17 13, 13, 12, 11, 10

  • Day 18 Off

  • Day 19 14, 13, 12, 11, 10

  • Day 20 14, 13, 12, 11, 11

  • Day 21 14, 13, 12, 12, 11

  • Day 22 14, 13, 13, 12, 11

  • Day 23 14, 14, 13, 12, 11

  • Day 24 Off

  • Day 25 15, 14, 13, 12, 11

  • Day 26 15, 14, 13, 12, 12

  • Day 27 15, 14, 13, 13, 12

  • Day 28 15, 14, 14, 13, 12

  • Day 29 15, 15, 14, 13, 12

  • Day 30 Off

I ended up following the program to a T so when I tested my new max after a few days rest, I got 17 reps which is a whopping 54.5 percent increase in reps in just 30 days!

And let me tell you, I definitely felt 54.5% manlier than I did at the start of the program.

Seriously, the amount of social media validation I got was very ego stroking.

Wait! What if I can't do 5 reps? Is there an easier version of the program?

The good news is: yes! There is indeed an easier version of the program. If you go to the original article here, you will find a 3RM program that you can do. It will progress you to a point where you'll be able to do 5 reps and then you can switch to the 5RM program.

If you're not quite at the 3 rep level yet, you can modify the pull-ups by using a band for assistance and then proceeding as usual. Pretty soon you'll hit the 3 reps and can proceed according to the 3RM program. 

On the other hand, if you're a total stud/studette, they even have a 15RM and 25RM program for you. The rep scheme is quite different from that of the 5RM program in that you'll do fewer reps in the subsequent sets. 

How long should you rest in between sets in the Fighter Pullup Program?

The answer: as long as you want but at least for 10 minutes between sets. In fact, don't be afraid to spread your sets out throughout the day.

Yeah, it sounds like a freaking long time right? Don't believe me? Well, Pavel Tsatsouline literally says it himself in the comments on the original article

So why the long rest?

Well, the goal of the program is to increase the number of pull-ups you can do. The goal is NOT to see how swole you can get, or see how much muscle you can put on. 

Simply put, if you don’t rest long enough, there’s an extremely high chance that you'll be too tired. And if you're too tired, you won’t be able to hit the required reps per set. 

So rest up ladies and gents. That should be easy. I personally varied the rest times mostly out of necessity. Some days I took a 10-minute break, other days I would spread the sets throughout the day.

Can I do the Russian Fighter Pullup Program for more than 30 days?

Yes, you can, but I would not recommend it. As with all things in life, too much of a good thing isn't very good. If you do the program for longer than 30 days, you run the risk for overuse injuries such as tendonitis. Its best to just do the 30 days, and then take some time off. You can revisit the program later if you so desire. 

Can I do this program with Chin Ups? What about Push Ups, Dips and other exercises?

Yes, the program works just as well with Chin Ups. While I have not personally tried this program with Push Ups or Dips (or know anyone who has), I can't imagine a reason why it wouldn't work for other exercises. If there is someone out there who has, I would love to hear about their experience!

So there you have it, everyone.

Whether you’re looking to get stronger, impress a date, or just prepping for your nighttime superhero gig, doing more pull-ups will be extremely beneficial.

And the Russian Fighter Pullup Program is an excellent program for increasing the number of pull-ups you can do.

Try it out and let me know how it goes in the comments!

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I’m a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) certified personal trainer and StrongFirst Bodyweight Instructor based in West Los Angeles and Santa Monica. I offer 1-on-1 personal training, group/couples training, and online fitness coaching!

If you’re interested in working with me or have any questions, feel free to reach out!