When life throws lemons in your face, go and make pull-ups!

20 pull-ups in a row - for many a challenge. Professional weightlifter Amanda Poulsen shows you how to do 20 pull-ups.

Life often has an unfair way to test your limits and capabilities, and this year life has for sure tested mine. During the Covid-19 I trained through all kinds of weather in my garden for several months. I was mentally though, the unknown of how long would this last, and the devastation of every single competition and training camp being cancelled. Luckily I’m very determined and pushed through the quarantine, and not only did I push through, I gained a lot of strength and PR’d my back squat and Clean and jerk right after the quarantine ended!

What a win. But, just as I was feeling stronger than ever, I suddenly felt pain in my hip. When I only got worse I got a scan, only to find out that I had inflammation in my bursa on the right thigh. Nothing serious, but an injury that required no movements and much rest for many weeks. I felt like a just got hit with a giant lemon right in my face, all the work that had been done during the quarantine felt useless.


Thank God that feeling didn’t last. I´m the kind a person who needs a purpose and a plan, with my training and in my life in general. I needed to find a way to get my purpose back with my training, now that I wouldn’t be able to lift for months. As a teenager I did rock-climbing for many years, and at that point I used to be legit at doing pull-ups. I suddenly got the idea to get back that pull-up strength, which I knew also would come in handy especially in my snatch-game later on.

And then suddenly I was back on track with a new goal.

My approach to the pull-up project were that I wanted to be able to do 20 unbroken pull-ups. I did all kinds of pull-up variations every day, max sets, weighted pull-ups, chin-ups, muscle-ups, kipping pull-ups, some climbing, and pulls in machines. I do at least 50 strict pull-ups every day now, and I even got a pullup bar in my living room. I’m at 21 unbroken pull-ups at the moment, and can easily do 15 every time I try.


My hip is now doing much better. I lost a lot of strength in my legs, but I gained so much upper body strength instead. Hopefully, I’ll be back to normal weightlifting training in a month, and until then I’ll keep building pull strength. Lesson learned; there’s always something you CAN do, it’s all about how you choose to focus and how you approach the obstacles that hits you. Adversity will hit you, no matter how hard you work, in the end it’s a test to find your limits.

So when life throws lemons in your face, go and make pull-ups.

So that you too can work on your pulling power, I have put together a pull-up program for you.


  • 5 times per week
  • repeat every week – slowly increase weights and repetitions
1Strict pull-upsBody weight5maximal3 min.
2Chin-upsAdditional weight54 – 6as long
as necessary
3Seal Rowsmoderate weight5102 – 3 min.
Pull-downs with wide gripmoderate weight5102 – 3 min.
4Behind the neck pull-upsBody weight54 – 7as long
as necessary
5Dumbbell rowingmoderate weight510 – 12
per side
2 – 3 min.
Pull-ups with wide gripBody weight
(advanced: add additional weight)
55 – 83 min.