How to do more chin ups is a question that has been asked since man first started exercising. When we were kids we got tested on the chin up in gym class and were surely embarrassed if we didn’t place too high amongst the rest of our classmates. The chin up is one of the oldest, greatest and most basic muscle building and strength training exercises in existence.
The great thing about chin ups is that they don’t require any fancy equipment at all. All you need is a chin up bar or a pair of TRX Straps to loop over a tree and you are all set. Bodyweight training has long been a staple in the armed forces and law enforcement and the incredible muscular development of male gymnasts shows just how effective it is. Whenever you use your own bodyweight as the resistance you call upon a greater number of muscle fibers and in turn get bigger and stronger a whole lot faster than you ever could if you were using a machine. Most machines are a waste of time when it comes to building muscular size and functional strength and should be used very infrequently, if at all.
So back to the question, how to do more chin ups? A plateau on chin ups can be very frustrating and the desire to blast through the plateau as fast as humanly possible is only natural. Let’s assume that you have been doing chin ups on a frequent basis and have gotten pretty good at them. You started barely being able to do one and now you are up to eight perfect reps. But you have stalled there and can’t seem to go up. What do you next?
One thing that needs to be noted is that reps on chin ups are harder to increase than a lot of other upper body exercises so you are not alone in your struggle. Over the years I have noticed in my training of hundreds of athletes that you will progress a lot faster on your chin ups if you do not come anywhere near failure when doing your sets. So if your max is eight reps, you should stop at six on each set. Keep that in mind from now on when doing your chins.
Chin ups also seem to respond incredibly well to a period of high frequency and low volume followed by a period of lower frequency and slightly increased volume. So you would do 1-2 sets of chin ups 5-6 days per week for 3-4 weeks straight. Always stay two reps short of failure on your sets. After a month of doing that you will cut back to doing chin ups only once per week for 2-3 total sets. You should notice a big increase in your reps over the next few weeks due to the reduced loading and the super compensation effect.
After doing that for a month, you could try doing a heavy/light approach for the next month, where you train your chin ups heavy one day with added weight around your waist for 1-5 reps and then repping out three days later with no weight. For example, you would do 2-3 heavy sets of 5 reps with a 25 pound plate around your waist on Monday and then on Thursday you would simply do as many reps as possible, with no weight, for 2-3 sets. You could even use a Jump Stretch band to assist you on the high rep day.
Hopefully that gives you some ideas on how to do more chin ups.