Dead Hang Pull-ups w/ Danny Kavadlo

Danny and IIf you’ve ever had a pull-up contest (or been asked to judge one), then you know how hard it is to ensure fairness. There are a lot of things to consider, such as technique, range of motion, hand placement, grip, etc.

I’ve heard a lot of people boast about how many pull-ups they can do only to find out that what they count as a rep is barely half the range of motion.

Last month, when I took the 20 pull-up challenge, a few readers even criticized me for “cheating.”

Using the dead hang pull-up is one way to make sure everyone is on the same page.

A dead hang pull-up involves fully locking out the elbows at the bottom of every rep. No momentum is involved during a proper dead hang pull-up. It’s a total 180 from the kipping pull-up.

I stopped by to see my brother Danny last week at his gym (he’s the personal training manager at NYHRC’s flagship location on 23rd street), and we decided to have an impromptu dead hang pull-up contest.

I went first, making sure to proceed slowly and deliberately between reps. Danny went second, and seemed more focused on trying to beat my number, rather than doing every rep with total precision.

Alas, I feel as though our pull-up contest ended ambiguously, but we both got a great workout, so in that sense we’re both winners.

Watch the video below to see for yourself:


For more information about muscle-ups, pick up a copy of my book, Raising The Bar: The Definitive Guide to Pull-up Bar Calisthenics.

21 thoughts on “Dead Hang Pull-ups w/ Danny Kavadlo

  • By dannykavadlo -

    Okay, okay, I didn't cheat as bad as I thought. A couple of iffy ones. Just goes to show what we knew all along: EVERY BODY NEEDS TRAINING!

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Haha yeah but you still got good money there!

  • By Rosalie -

    I love you guys! You make me smile all the time.

  • By Jesse Kavadlo -

    I think just watching counts as my workout for today. Whew, that was tough!

  • By Carl -

    I watched. I said to Rosalie, “I don't know what to say.” She said, “You don't have to say anything.” Yes, I watched. Good job, guys.

  • By elizabethharcourt -

    Al. this is AWESOME. i'd like to do just one for now…i'll try for the properly-formed 18 in a few months. what kind of vitamins were you super-humans fed as kids?! very cool and inspirational, for sure.

  • By ashleycarr -

    Hahaha!! That video had me crackin' up and thanks for the info via sweet voice over! I love your videos and I'm trying to be in one doing a human flag!

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    I think my mom used to give us Flintstones chewables.

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Thanks Ashley–as soon as you're ready to show off your skills you let me know and we'll get you up here.

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    I think my mom used to give us Flintstones chewables.

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Thanks Ashley–as soon as you're ready to show off your skills you let me know and we'll get you up here.

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  • By jeffdf -

    Totally terrifying. After a (unassisted) headstand, I think deadhang pull-ups are the thing I would most like to be able to do (unassisted), LOL! Forget the 20 reps; I'd settle for one! First time for everything! JDF

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Hey Jeff–just start with working towards that first one and then take it from there–it's nothing to fear!

  • By Medicaid Doctors -

    I wanna find more info about this, anybody could?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      I have many articles about pull-ups on this blog. You should be able to find everything you need by using the search feature in the upper right corner.

  • By typedeaF -

    Nice. When I started weight training 8 months ago, I could barely do 3-5 wide grip pull-ups. Over the last 8 months, my back has gotten stronger but I still can only do 8-10. A friend of mine who hadn’t trained with me in months poked fun at my lack of progress. I just smirked because I know that now my form is infinitely better– doing a dead hang. You don’t mention it, but for me, when doing a dead-hang you REALLY involve a full Lat sweep. I feel so many more back muscles being utilized now versus when I was doing a “bicep hang” before.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks! The increased ROM definitely makes this a more challenging variation. Keep training hard!

  • By reincarnate100 -

    Hey Al, I have a question.At the time of this video you were at 18 Dead Hang Pull-ups, but I’m wondering, how many Pull-ups would you have been able to do with the same form as your brother did at this current time? I’m curious on how much the difference is, because in a Pull-up test, he’d still probably not get called for cheating.

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