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Pull-up and Chin-ups – The King of Upper Body Movements


If you want to add muscle mass to your back, well-developed biceps, a strong grip and tight abs, it’s a good idea to spend some time on the chinning bar. The best bodybuilders in history Arnold, Sergio, Larry Scott, Franco, Zane, Samir and many others have all spent more time on the chinning bar than on a lat pull-down machine.

Chin-ups and pull-ups have always been a test of fitness when we were in school and are still used as a ‘measuring stick’ of fitness for police departments, fire departments and the US military including the elite Navy Seals. Women can develop enough strength to chin just as well as men.

Lets clarify a chin-up is where you pull yourself to the bar with your palms facing (Supinated) you. A pull-up is performed with your palms facing away from you (Pronated). Of course you also have parallel grips chinning stations, ladders and triangle bars so the term gets comingled. A full range doesn’t just get your chin over the bar but when you actually touch your chest to the bar.

Most gyms have those chinning bars with the ends turned down. According to Larry Scott, this is a mistake because the scapula can’t achieve a full range of motion. A better place to chin is with an Olympic bar set high inside a Power Rack. And you can usually find a good chinning bar on most playgrounds.

For anyone who can’t perform at least 5 repetitions in chins or pull-ups… here are three routines that will help you get to a high level of chinning skill in as little as 10-12 weeks.

The 10 Sets Routine
Charles Poliquin 10 set routine. If you can only chin-up (or pull-up) for 1 to 3 reps then do 10 sets of 1-3 reps until you can do 4… then 5… then 6 etc. Rest one minute between sets.

The 30 Reps Routine

This is another one recommended by Poliquin. Do as many sets as it takes to achieve 30 reps. Rest one minute between sets.

Ascending/Descending Routine

Week 1: 6 sets of 2-reps. 1-minute’s rest between sets. Perform this routine twice during the week. On the second rep, resist on the way down for 30 seconds.

Week 2: 5 sets of 3-reps. 1-minute’s rest between sets. Perform this routine twice during the week. On the third rep, resist down for 30 seconds.

Week 3: 4 Sets of 4-reps. 1 minute’s rest between sets. Perform this routine twice during the week. On the fourth rep, resist down for 30 seconds.

Week 4: 3 Sets of 6-reps. Perform this routine twice a week. At this point you want to just keep trying to add a rep or two each workout until you’re getting 10 or more reps.

Once you can get 12 reps for 3 or 4 sets, it’s time to add weight to your pull-up/chin-up routine with a harness or a weighted vest. You’ll be on a roll and your entire upper body will show it.

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