Three months ago I challenged myself to a six month goal to do 25 unbroken strict pull ups. As part of this challenge the plan was to test at 3 months and hopefully be at least halfway from my 19 pull up starting point, which would have put me at 22. Turns out it only took 3 months to get up to 25 pull ups!
I followed a very specific program from Gymnasticbodies.com called foundations 1 over the course of the last two of the three months. Funny thing is, none of my work incorporated pull ups on the bar. All of my work was done on rings with my feet on the ground. Through working to the progression of an exercise called a "hinge row" and as well as an "incline ring row" and achieving mastery in each - meaning 5 sets of 15 with only about 60 seconds of lat stretching in between - my pulling strength and endurance increased dramatically.
To say I didn't do any pull ups during this time would be an exaggeration. I did do some weighted pull ups just to satisfy my curiosity of how my strength was maintaining with such high volume at a lighter load. It was fine. Alternating on the minute with sets of 10 back squats I was able to complete sets of six strict chest to bar pull ups for six sets. Previously my best chest to bar single rep was only 65 lbs. I'd say that's a significant improvement, although I haven't tested a one rep to see for sure.
Not to sound too much like a sales rep for GB, but the program is really legit. It is extremely detailed, with video examples of true gymnasts performing the specified skill correctly and can be scaled very appropriately to your own skill level. Many of the exercises that appeared easy at first crushed me when performed with the specified precision and limited rest. The amount of control and strength required to perform simple movements incredibly well is astounding and the training benefit for me has been extremely rewarding.
I'm going to keep up the gymnastics training and at the six month mark, which will be July 2nd, I will retest and shoot for 30 strict pull ups. It's a lofty goal, but I'm feeling confident and I know my training will be consistent and I am up to the challenge. Feel free to consult with me in the gym or through email if you have an interest in developing your body weight skills further. It translates so well to the barbell and all of our skills in CrossFit, if you have the time, you really should give it a shot!