31 Dead Hang Chins

I was recently in a Chin-Up contest sponsored by the US Marines. I won the contest (otherwise I would not be on here telling you about it) by doing 31 dead hang chins.(this is at the advanced age of 48!) For the few people who may not know the term dead hang it means all the way down arms locked out.

My qeustion is this: Do any of you have any ideas on how to train in order for me to achieve a gain of say 5 or 6 over the next 12 months? The look on my sons face when I won the contest is worth training all year for.

Any ideas as to sets and reps would be appreciated. I have been training by doing 3 sets of 20 with a 2 min rest between. Then two sets of either negatives, with a 10lb weight belt or half reps (top half) with a 10lb belt.

While I am probably twice the age of the average Testosterone reader I still enjoy training as much as I ever have. And thank God I am healthy enough to give it my all (5’ 10" 190lbs- body fat 11%).

Thanks for reading my post and for any help that might be coming my way.

Good job ZEB !

Have you tried doing them with more weight, under the principle that your muscles strengthen to the point that doing them isnt as taxing?

my favorite methods for strength endurance are:
ladders: (sets of 1,2,3,… reps rest lasting as long as the set before did)
GTG: frequent training - training with 50% of your max doing a set every couple of hours totaling 5-12 set a day with a day or two off per week. every week test your max and train with a the new 50% the next week.
EDT style training: try to get as many reps as possible in 15 minutes, and progress every week, do it every other day.

good luck!

Zeb way to go! Chalk one up for us older T-Men. and 31 chins at your body weight is very impressive. Usually you see guys in the 130-150 pound range win those contests.

Awesome Job. I haven’t hit your number but do sets of 20. My advice is variety, with grip, width, tempo.

I’d also suggest doing 1x week of static contraction at the top. Hold 2-5x for 30-60 seconds.

Good luck.


Those are remarkable numbers! I think you should shoot for an additional 15 reps. To do this, I would try to knock out 45-50 dead hangs within, say, 5 minutes. So do a set of 31, then rest 45 seconds and do as many as you can and then rest another 45 secs, and do as many as you can,etc, etc. until you reach 50 reps. Then simply continue to drop the rest period until you can do 45-50 in a row.

That’s amazing man, congrats…

I like Trench’s idea of cramming in the max reps in a given time frame.

I also think if you overload with various amounts of added weight for your max reps, you’ll simply get stronger and be able to tack on a few reps.

Another idea would be to diet (not too extremely) for a few months prior to next year’s showing–if you can get down to 7 % you could lose a few pounds, thereby lightening your load.

Also, I do believe C. Shugarts “Psych of Big” article applies here–I think in contests like this there’s a lot to be said about determination, focus, drive, and visualization in getting you to a certain number of reps.

Stay well

You’ll hear a number of different responses to this and I would give them all a try for a couple of weeks if I were you as most (if not all) should have some merit. Personally there are two things I would look at trying:

Identify which muscles gave up on you in the end and work to increase the endurance in those particular muscles in a non-chinup specific manner.

The other thing I might try is this:

Sun: Off
Mon: Max Test
Tues: 50% every hour
Wed: 75% every 45min
Thurs: 25% every 30 min
Fri: 50% every 30 min
Sat: 75% every 30 min

So what you do is test your max every Monday. You only do one test so you’ll have one set of chins and that’s it.

Then each day from the time you get up to the time you go to bed you’ll do a set at the prescribed interval with the prescribed percentage of max.

This really only works if you can chin every half hour or 45 min, if you can’t it won’t do you much good. If you do this don’t worry if you have to miss a set here or there, just pick it up with the next one. At the beginning of the day it’ll seem pretty easy, by the end of the day you’ll find that you might not be able to get the required number out and that’s okay too, just do a few short of failure.

I’ve gotten some great results for clients who wanted to increase specific muscular endurance using this program. I wouldn’t use it for more than 4-6 weeks but for those 4-6 weeks it can gett you some great results.


You da man!

Clarence Bass has an article on his site that goes into just this scenario using ladders.

I want to thank everyone who was kind enough to respond to my post.I got some great ideas!

I think I will train in phases. The first phase being to add weight to my routine to build larger “pulling” muscles. This idea was given to me by Antiberal.

The next phase could be an EDT phase which was recommended by glute-spanker, Trench Dawg and Rightsideup.

I will also add some :30 seconds holds at the top position which was Fitnforty’s idea.

Finally, I will put to use two very insightful ideas. The first is from Rightsideup, who stated that if I drop my body fat from 11%(this reading was from one of those hand held electric units so I could be more or less 11%) to 7% I will have less fat to chin up to the bar. A 3% reduction in body fat at 190lbs is almost 6lbs. (if I can do it).

the second insightful idea came from Sturat, who questioned which muscles gave up first. Upon reflection it was the biceps that quit first as my lats and my grip, the other two important muscles in performing chin-ups, were solid. I will then add higher rep barbell curls in order to train my Bi’s to go the distance. Or, perhaps use EDT.

You guys have me psyched up! I am going to take Trench Dawgs advice and shoot for an additional 15 reps on top of the 31!

Thanks a million guys I know the great information that you all gave is really going to help out!

I have been training since the first day that I set foot on a wrestling mat when I was 14 years old. I am far from being an expert but I do have 35 years of experience and if there is anything I can do to help anyone on this site all you have to do is ask!

Be Strong and Healthy!


Just to clarify-- I do not want you to do EDT training. What I was recommending was a plan to get you to 50 continuous dead hang chins by gradually reducing the rest period between sets of max effort chins. So hypothetically, you would do 31 reps then rest 45 secs, then do 4-5 reps, rest 45 secs and so forth til you reach a total of 50. Start at 45 sec rest and go down about 5 sec rest until you are doing them consecutively. Charles Poliquin uses this technique to get players ready for the 225 bench rep test at NFL combines.


Thank you for the clarification. This sounds like a logical way to train in order to gain more reps.

Zeb- You are a 48 year old butt kicker!
I hope the majority in here understand that at 48 years old most guys are stretched out on their easy chairs and sipping beer, while resting their bottle on their fat stomachs between sips. While oggling Britney Spears and Madonna lip locking. (okay I got carried away but you get the idea).

The second thing I wanted to state is that I do not think that “strength endurance” such as displayed by Zeb in his 31 consecutive dead hang chins, is given enough credit in our lifting culture.

I have all the respect in the world for a man who can Bench Press 400lbs. Or squat 500lbs (or more). However, what about a guy like zeb who can kick out 31 dead hang chins? That has to be at least as rare as either of the two lifts mentioned aboove. Maybe better based upon how many men can achieve it especially relative to age (48) and weight (190lbs he states).

Okay, time to go. Have to go do my 6 to 12 reps. I admire the 31 chins but I aint going there!