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preparing for chin ups

Posted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 8:50 am
by Sting
Due to the good advice I got from another post I made, I thought I would try another one out.

I can easily do 3 sets of 25 pushups, but I can't do more than 2 chinups.

I want to be able to do more, but I can't even get more than 2.

The gym I go to has an assisted chin up machine, but I have been on it a while and am not noticing my unassited chin ups being any easier. I can still get done 2 (barely) and then can't do anymore.

What exercises should I do to get better at Chin Ups? I must seriously be missing a lot of muscle where I should have it. This goes back to Elementary school lol, where I couldn't even go across the monkey bars.

For the record I am 6'0 , 155 Lbs. Not exactly a huge load... I don't think.

Posted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 8:52 am
by ironmaiden708
Lat pulldown

Posted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 9:30 am
by Stephen Johnson

Keep in mind -

1 - Push-ups only use 60%-70% of your bodyweight, while chins use 100%. A better comparison would be push-ups to supine rows.

2 - The range of motion for push-ups is much less than that of chins

3 - Chins done with an overhand (pronated) grip put the biceps at a disadvantage. Push-ups done with the arms close to the body put the triceps in a strong position. The biceps and triceps are the weak links in their respective exercises.

I used assisted chin up machines to work up to the point where I could do five sets of 5 overgrip chins fairly consistantly.

Posted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 9:36 am
by stuward
Jumping pull ups, resist the pull back down so you take advantage of the excentric motion.

Posted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 9:27 pm
by caangelxox
What I am currently doing (have done for about 2-3 weeks) is using all 3 grips (overhand, underhand, and neutral grip) that equals 1 set. During the first week I did 1 OH, 1 UH, and 1 Neutral Grip Pull Up and repeating that whole thing 3 times before resting and then doing the next set. Then a few sessions later to 4 times around, then the next week I moved up to 3 reps per grip to equal one set (3 OH, 3 UH, 3 Neutral), then I moved to 4 reps per grip. I am not all about just improving reps on just one grip..I want to do all the grips. Each grip works different arm, back, and shoulder muscles.

After doing this, I tested my pull up max doing overhand grip and it was at about 10 reps. Before I started doing all of this, it was at 4-6 for a while.

This worked for me, but I don't know if it will work for you. Give it a try for at least 2 weeks (first of all test your max like I did) and then after the 2-3 weeks are up, test your max again using whichever grip you want and see if your reps have improved.

By the way, I cannot do one wide grip pull up yet (arms a tiny bit wider than shoulder width) bodyweight; however, I am working on it with the lat pulldown machine. Once I can go one rep wide grip, then I can do like I did with the other 3 grips, but differently. I would go one rep and then rest a few seconds, then another rep, and so on until I cannot do it anymore and need to rest. Once I can catch it up with my pull up/chin up/neutral grip reps #, then I will do all 5 grips together. I am also working on the assitance pull up machine for the wide grip. This is also how my strength to do a few pull up/chin up/neutral grip reps as well.

One important thing is to make sure you depress and contract your lats (shoulders down and back, shoulder blades squeezed together) when you do a lat pulldown or any kind of chin up or pull up. Also, keep your chest up and look straight ahead (neck in neutral position).

Posted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 10:02 pm
by VoK
What I've found, specifically with overhand pullups, is that the arms are the weak point, not the back. Most people do pullups and seem to get stuck on the last half of the pull, the part when you are getting your chin above the bar.

For me, what worked was first focusing the movement to use more of my back muscles. Instead of using all arms, I forced myself to bring my elbows to my side. This helped immensely.
Next, I proceeded to use forearm strength to get my chin above the bar. With the elbows at my side, I could pull an additional 4-5 pullups with almost all forearm strength.
I guess what I'm saying is that I'm reiterating the point of the biceps being the weak link. Rather than having that as a sticking point, I work around it.

Another method is to split up the pullup in 3 parts. Do 2 or 3 from a dead hang to a half pull up, focusing on just getting your elbows to your side. Do 2 or 3 from the middle to getting your chin above the bar. And lastly, do 2 or 3 with a full range of motion.

I've been working on pullups for a few months now. I've gotten up to a solid 15-20 depending on the day, with 100% range of motion. I'm aiming to get to 25-30, but this has helped me so far. Currently, I'm doing 5 sets of 5 with 30 seconds of rest in between.

Posted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:10 pm
by KPj
I've found inverted rows to be a good progression to pull ups. I've yet to see someone who can do 3-4 sets of 10 inverted rows that can't knock out a set of pull ups....

That involves doing them properly, though i.e. bring chest all the way up to the bar, even pause slightly to start with...

So you could just hammer away at those until you can get 4 sets of 10 then see if you can do any pull ups.

back when I started training and barely new my a$$ from my elbow, pull ups were a priority for me. It really bothered me that I could only manage a few with sloppy form. Same with Tricep dips.

Not that I would recommend it, but I started doing pull ups and dips as a warm up for every workout. Before long I was doing 3 sets of 10 quite easily as my warm up. I know now that it's a ridiculous approach, but it worked..

(Probably worth mentioning that I ended up with shoulder problems, due to a whole lot of eases a little guilt if I mention it.)

Anyway, I can knock out sets of 3 to 5 with 65-70lbs hanging from me... weight and reps depend on grip, which I alternate. I do pull ups at least once a week, too.

Previous to shoulder problems, I could do dips with 90lbs hanging from me, for 6 reps. Now, I don't do dips at all, too much of a risk... You could say i've learned from my stupidity...


Posted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:49 pm
by amivan
I like to do an exercise I got from... Arnold, I want to say, maybe, don't quote me on that, but it's one of the well-known names out there. Do as many sets as it takes to get 50 pull-ups (but that's advanced), in your case, I would do as many sets as it takes me to do 20 pull-ups. Do this once or twice (with a considerable gap of time between each) and you'll notice the difference within a few weeks as it takes you less sets to reach 20 reps. Once you can do 20 reps in 2-3 sets, increase your goal. If you're looking for a goal, shoot for 50 pull-ups in 4-5 sets. I know it works for sure because whenever I stop (for several months) doing pull-ups I find that I can only do 6-8 pull-ups, but after doing the "50-rep total" workout I get back up to 10-15 a set in about a month. The grip you do this with is your choice, I personally like overhand grip, choose the one that works best/you like the most.

Keep going at it, who knows you could be able to do muscle-ups at some point!


Your ability to perform pull-ups can be affected by the diameter of the bar you grip, monkey bars which are thin are much easier to perform pull-ups on than those thick padded bars on the assisted pull-up machines so if you have a playground nearby and you're someone that goes jogging/walking/etc. around the neighborhood you could do pullups on those if you dont mind getting stares :)

Posted: Tue May 06, 2008 9:56 pm
by Mick B
this is i guess along the same lines as this topic

I am about to finish a training cycle and before i commence another i want to work on my chin ups for say 4-6 weeks.

at present i can do about 12-15 as a max set depending on time of day, etc but i think that i would need to be doing about 20-25 as a goal before i start to add weight.

has anybody got any suggestions of a 3-4 day per week workout that i might be able to implement for the next couple of weeks before the next cycle starts.

obviously doing chin ups is the best way to improve but are there exercises that are good complements i should add to the sessions

Posted: Tue May 06, 2008 10:05 pm
by pdellorto
Look for "GTG" or "greasing the groove" programs for chinups. Basically, you do a sub-maximal amount of chinups scattered throughout the day.

There are also a number of pullup improvement programs aimed at people trying to max armed forces dead-hang tests. "Recon Ron" is one of them.

Another option, kind of a "brute force" option, is one I picked up from a guy named Gant Grimes over on the Crossfit boards. He wanted to up his pushup numbers so he did Tabata Pushups every week. 6 rounds of 20 seconds of max pushups, 10 seconds rest. Then he'd rest a few minutes and do the same 6x20s-10s approach for squats, pullups, etc. It upped his overall numbers nicely for all of them. You can search for "12 week Tabata project" on the Crossfit boards. I did it with pushups, v-ups, and squats and it improved my numbers in all three.

There are lots of ways to attack "more chinups." Basically, you need to be chinning a lot, weighted (if possible) and unweighted. You can also ask about this on the Crossfit message boards. Pullups are a major part of crossfit (the standard warmup includes 3 sets of 10-15 reps, and many workouts are very pullup intense). So "how do I get more pullups" is a common question and there are a lot of people experienced in improving them.


Posted: Tue May 06, 2008 10:09 pm
by pdellorto
Oh yeah, you don't need to hit 20-25 reps before you add weight. I rarely get past 11 chinups, but I can do 5 chinups at 85kg with 20kg around my waist. Once you can do 10-15 chinups you aren't really getting more raw strength as you get more reps, your getting more strength-endurance. If you also want to up your weighted chinups (say if you're aiming for a one-armed chinup) you need to do weighted chinups just like any other weighted work. Hang a dumbell or plates from a belt, or put on a weighted vest, and get to work.

I do both - lots of high-rep chinup work, jumping, kipping, and dead-hang, plus low-rep weighted chinups. That way I attack both endurance and strength for my pulling.