I've always been a huge fan of pull-ups — way before they became a cool thing to do in CrossFit gyms. I remember repeating set after set off of a 2 x 4 in my garage rafters. I wore old work gloves to prevent splinters and lessen the discomfort of hanging onto a rectangular board.
Pull-ups became one of my go-to exercises for a few reasons. First, I always wanted a wide, muscular back after seeing some amazing backs on other lifters in my early days. Second, from my late teens/early 20's my low back was my weak link, which made bent-over rows (one of the other staple back exercises for guys who want huge backs) a dangerous lift for me. Pull-ups, on the other hand put my low back in traction rather than compression, which made them safe for me to do. Third, it made sense that an exercise this hard would deliver great results; and it does!
After a recent terrible illness which catabolized my muscle and left me with about a third of my former strength it was finally time to get back to training. For the first 4–6 weeks pull-ups were out of the question — no way. Finally, figuring it'd be a good test of where my strength stood, I decided to give them a try. I managed to do 3 sets of 2 pull-ups. They felt brutal, like I'd never done one before! The following week though, I managed 4 sets of 4! This last Monday, after adding one rep to each set for a couple months, I managed 10, 10, 10, and 9 reps!
Thank God my old friend the pull-up is back! I'm lovin' my pull-ups!