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Old 11-05-2011, 08:02 AM   #1
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Default Improving Your Chin Ups

LIFT-RUN-BANG: Improving Chins

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* Chins seem to respond a lot like big lifts, in that if you improve your lower rep strength on them, then ability to rep bodyweight gets easier.
* There is nothing wrong with doing a ton of sets of 5 with bodyweight only. I used this tactic a LOT, then would have a heavy chin day every third week or so with great results.
* Throwing in lat pulldowns every so often and giving the chins a break helped as well.
* Using a 5x5 periodization scheme was good for me too. I hit my best (100x3) that way. I just used a calculator and spreadsheet and worked in the numbers over the course of 8 weeks or so and hit a nice PR. And that was at 265 and I gained weight over the course of that period. So the whole "I gained weight and couldn't chin" thing is kinda out. Just keep chinning.
* I never got more out of chinning multiple times a week than once a week. Your mileage may vary but that's how it was for me. I have chinned 3-5 X a week before, and I never noticed anything better from that than chinning once a week.
* On the flip side, my wife improved her chins like crazy by hitting em everyday for months. So again, there is always the other side of the coin.
* My take on the two above scenarios is this. The stronger you are, the more recover you need. Tiff could only do three chins and then worked her way up to doing 10. Obviously I could do more than 3.
* Don't be afraid to use that anti-gravity machine to get reps in.
* No, I don't have that spreadsheet anymore for when I did the 5x5 calculations.
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Old 11-05-2011, 08:29 AM   #2
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So basically, do everything that would strengthen your back, mostly chin type movements, and you'll get better at doing chins?












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Old 11-05-2011, 08:56 AM   #3
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I agree with the author, just get stronger. Getting lighter helps too. I had my best success with improving my chin-ups by working on low reps with added weight. I started with singles for a couple of months and kept adding weight every week. Then I moved on to doubles and eventually into triples. By the time I was done I'd almost tripled the amount of bodyweight chin-ups I could do, going from 5 to 13 reps.
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Old 11-06-2011, 10:13 PM   #4
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Couldn't agree more with Paul on this. The chin has to be worked, but to much is detrimental -- if you suck at them (5-10 reps max) doing them 2-3 times a week will help get the numbers up quickly. Past that, once a week is all that is needed with the rest of your back work centered around variations of the rows and/or lat pull downs.

Simple 5x5 variations have worked very well for me. Also Bill Starr outlined a template for weight dips in one of his military press articles which works pretty darn well for the pull up/chin -- if memory serves correct: week 1 - 5x8, week 2 - 5x5 + 1 max rep down set, week 3 - 2x5, 3x3, + 1 max rep down set.
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Old 11-07-2011, 11:58 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Off Road View Post
I agree with the author, just get stronger. Getting lighter helps too. I had my best success with improving my chin-ups by working on low reps with added weight. I started with singles for a couple of months and kept adding weight every week. Then I moved on to doubles and eventually into triples. By the time I was done I'd almost tripled the amount of bodyweight chin-ups I could do, going from 5 to 13 reps.
My problem in bold above. I'm still aways from my BW, but on a pulldown machine, I'm pulling at max, around 240. Not the best form, but I get the damn bar to my chest and back. However on an Asst Pullup machine, I need to have a counter weight of almost 100Lbs, which would mean I'm only Pulling-Up around 180Lbs. Gravity, and fat bellies suck.
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Old 11-07-2011, 01:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ricka182 View Post
My problem in bold above. I'm still aways from my BW, but on a pulldown machine, I'm pulling at max, around 240. Not the best form, but I get the damn bar to my chest and back. However on an Asst Pullup machine, I need to have a counter weight of almost 100Lbs, which would mean I'm only Pulling-Up around 180Lbs. Gravity, and fat bellies suck.
Pull downs, assisted pull ups and actual pull ups are for more different animals than you would think. Assisted pull ups put you in a very awkward, unnatural position. I'm not a fan of them, ever.

I don't use pull downs anymore, but I think they are not a bad movement for someone who can't do pull ups. That being said, I don't think it's good to cheat on pull downs and use momentum to get the bar down. I'd much prefer that someone focus on a good stretch at the top, and then learn to squeeze hard at the bottom and stick their chest out hard. People who aren't strong tend to use their arms on pull ups. Not only do they not squeeze their back at the top, they don't even pull their shoulders back at all.

The hope is that the good form and full ROM you develop with pull downs will transfer to pull ups once you start to do them.

Here's an example of the wrong way to do things;


Instead of using his back to pull him up he's used his arms. His shoulders are forward and he's straining to get his chin over the bar. Thrusting your head forward to try and get your chin over the bar has been shown to cause some serious issues with the thoracic spine.

Here's a good in-between version;


This is a good military pull up. His chest is out enough to engage his back while still using his arms as well, and he has to get his chin over the bar for it to count but he isn't having to strain to do it. This still isn't the best version when it comes to developing your back.

Now THIS is how you do it!


This is a back movement. His chest is out and his back is squeezed. He's not trying to get his chin over anything, but it's happening anyways just because of how strong he is. I find that often times I don't even come close to getting my chin over the bar. I just focus on the squeeze in my back and getting a full contraction.

. . .and this is just a gift for everyone, because this chick is cute and ripped.
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Old 11-07-2011, 01:24 PM   #7
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I found that a way to improve my chins was to up the frequency

In addition to having them in my back workout, I do them in between sets of most push movements at BW for a max of 4sets
a session ,

I'm gonna have to start doing weighted soon which should be interesting I guess!
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Old 11-18-2011, 10:38 AM   #8
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I was having a majorly hard time with chin ups. especially wide grip chin ups.
My strategy to improve at the moment is to use the weighted assisted wide grip chin up machine - and lighten the counterweight progressively. It's improving my chin up so far... want to be able to chin up without the counterweight soon though
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Old 11-18-2011, 10:52 AM   #9
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A much better version of the assisted pull up is to put a bench underneath you and put your feet on it, then just spot yourself. That allows you to be in a much more natural position compared to the assisted pull up machine, which forces you to stay upright in a very innatural position.

Also, use lots of negatives. Jump to get up to the top of the pull up, then lower yourself as slowly as possible. Do sets of 3-5 and you'll be doing real pull ups before you know it.
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Old 11-18-2011, 11:03 AM   #10
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Band assisted chin-ups if you need a little extra help.
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