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Chin Ups and Dips


I've decided I want to work up to 20 pull ups and 25 dips in one set.

The only other exercise I'll really be doing is running intervals 3-4 times a week, and some soccer/martial arts/ random other sports. So I should have a lot of recovery to go into the 2 exercises.

Currently I can do 10 pull ups and around 7-8 dips. . How should I program to achieve my goals?

I'll shoot this question down before I recieve it. There is no real rhyme or reason to these goals. It's just something I would like to be able to do.


I can help you out here. I'll give you a little background on myself. Back in 2002 I was in the same boat as you. I can't remember how many dips I could do, but I could only do 10 chins as well. I followed the program I'll mention later and within a couple of weeks I was doing 20 chins. I have to do a fitness test for work each year and it includes chins and dips (pushups replaced dips last year though). I generally only worked chins and dips in the 5-10 rep range (weighted) except when preparing for the test. I spend 4-6 weeks doing the following program and in '04 I got 32 chins and 43 dips. My records are 46 chins in '07 and 60 dips in '08.

These are without kipping. I tried that once during a workout and thought I was going to injure myself, lol. I have terrible shoulder flexibility/mobility.

The thing I found with chins and dips, is that you get better at them by doing chins and dips. Even though my max numbers are high, it's not like that year round. Most of the year my max sits around 20 chins/30 dips.

Here's the program. All chin up exercises are done in a pyramid fashion with a 10 sec rest between sets ie. 1 rep, 10 sec rest, 2 reps, 10 sec rest, 3, 4, 5... Once you reach your max, you just go back down ...5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Pull ups
Close grip pull ups
Behind the neck pull ups
Commandos (grip the bar sideways with your hands together. Pull up to a shoulder, down, up to the other).

Dips (Increase the steps to reps of 2 -- 2, 4, 6, 8, 10...8, 6, 4, 2)

Push ups (Steps of 2 as well)

You should be able to go from 10 - 20 pretty quickly with this. After 20, if you want to keep going you can, but one change I would make is starting and ending the chin and dip portion with a max set.

Make sure you're only taking a 10 sec rest between sets and the key here is to push yourself through the burn/pain to try for that extra rep.

This is a pretty intense workout and expect to be sore for a couple of days after your first couple of workouts. If you need to take 2 or 3 days off between the first couple of workouts, no problem. As your conditioning and recovery improves you can move down to 1 or 2 days and then 1 day off in between.

***NOTE: When I'm preparing for my testing, this is the only workout I do apart from running and sit ups, which are also tested. I only do it for the 4-6 weeks before the test and switch to a balanced routine for the rest of the year.

Only doing chins/dips/pushups can lead to some serious imbalances and I've had to nurse shoulder injuries in the past. Mind you, I'm pushing for high numbers. You should be able to get to 20 without worry.

Let me know if you have any questions and keep us updated on your progress.



I went from 12 pull ups to 27 pull up in about 6 weeks by greasing the groove with a home pull up bar.


What Tough said will definitely work. I chose to go a different route, I did an EDT fashioned workout to get the increase you're looking for. BTW keep track of your bodyweight, a huge mistake when people begin doing something like this is that they gain small amounts of weight and actually think they are not progressing because they can't accomplish more reps. Doing 12 chinups at 190 is better than 12 chins at 187. Watch out for this.

PM if you care for the routine.


I agree, an EDT style workout would be a good choice as well.


I disagree with this part. A lot of people use the bodyweight excuse to rationalize why that cant do as many dips or pull ups. Unless the extra weight is a lot of fat it shouldnt matter.

but anyway! hahaha There are good suggestions in here on how to increase your pull ups and dips. What helped me was doing weighted pull ups for less reps. Like doing sets with 25 lbs hanging and only getting 5x5 or something. Then after doing that for a while you take the weight off and just fly up over the bar.
Good luck OP



Lol, so who is stronger, a guy that weighs 150 pounds and can do 10 chinups or a guy that weighs 200 pounds and can do 10 chinups?

Still disagree? =D


^^heeeeeeeeey! I see what you did there! :slightly_smiling:

I know what you're saying but "stronger" is a relative term. Thats why powerlifting is divided into weight classes. To test strength compared to weight.

If I weight 170 and can do 10 dips and over a couple years I gain up to 210 and can still do 10 dips. I would be pissed if I could only do the same ammount of dips. That means my strength to weight ratio has gotten worse. If you're putting on muscle as your weight gain goes up you should be doing more reps or at least doing weighted dips

thats just my view and from my time in the special forces community I've always put a big emphasis on bodyweight exercises like dips, pull ups and push ups. Maybe its my view from being part of that community that has skewed my view but its a pet peeve of mine when guys use being heavier as an excuse for sucking at or neglecting pull ups and dips.

but thats just my two cents :slightly_smiling:



I think this debate could fill up a thread on it's own. I don't think it's a simple answer. If you compare a 170 lb guy and a 210 lb guy who both do 10 chins, then I think the 210 lb guy can be considered to have a higher absolute strength, but a lower relative strength. Which you think is better is going to depend on your goals.

If you are just looking to move the most weight, then it doesn't really matter what your weight is, however if you are looking for a high relative strength, then keeping a lower bodyweight while increasing strength is the way to go. The guy with the lower bodyweight will probably max out at a lower weight. Obviously in a special forces scenario, strength endurance and work capacity are goals, but they aren't everyone's goals.

Another thing is weight difference. I say that a 3 pound difference with the same chins is not a meaningful comparison, while a 40 lb difference with the same number of chins offers room for debate.

The other thing to look at is body type. What if the 170 lb guy is all upper body but has twigs for legs and the 210 lb guy has trunks for legs. That will affect the numbers and it could be argued that while the 210 lb guy has a lower relative strength in chins, he may have better overall strength due to having a higher leg strength.

It's like the debate about who is fitter, a 280 lb guy who can deadlift 700 lbs, or a 150 lb guy who can run a marathon but can only deadlift his bodyweight. It's all about goals and what you consider to be fit.



25 dips is A LOT easier then 20 strict chins btw...

Tougher the 150lb is fitter in terms of cardio but is fairly weak with his p!ss poor DL! The 280lb guy has a rock solid DL and is a lot stronger then the 150lb guy. He probably is better with the ladies and reads on T-Nation!

When I was 77kg I could do 20chins or 20pul ups strict. At 92.5kg I can only do 16chins/ 13pull ups. I have very heavy legs and no f0cking endurance due to my OLifting...



Right, powerlifting is divided into weightclasses for the exact rationale behind my last post, because bigger people are generally stronger. When I weighed 188 lbs I could do 25 strict pullups, no problem. Now I weigh 217lbs and I can get about 12. When I weighed 188 lbs I could deadlift 285, now I can deadlift 425. But now I am stronger, in every possible meaning of the word. There are no lifts that I couldn't beat my previous self in. If my old self wanted to do pullups of the magnitude I currently perform them, he would have to attach 30 lbs to his body and attempt it.

If we use your context of special forces, then you are obviously right, but I think it would be unwise to use a specially trained force as our standard of debate because the mass they gain is entirely muscle which will always translate into more reps with the routines you guys use (well that would be my guess).

Yea without a doubt.

The 3lb difference is a distinction that should be made with the OP. No one puts on weight in 40 lbs increments lol. We can be sure that 3 lb's is enough to make a difference, heck 1lb can make a difference, once the force you output is equal to the weight you are lifting, any weight, albeit .000001 lbs is going to be the 'make or break' on the lift. All I am saying is that this could mean a rep or two in the first couple of weeks and that he shouldn't get discouraged if this happens.

I know at this point I am rambling but one last thing.

Weight really has a ton of influence on dip/pullup performance. There does exist a weight/strength ratio that is completely optimal for doing dips/pullups/etc.. Look at all of the people who have world records in dips and pullups.. They all have the exact same body type. They are light and extremely lean and not too tall. There is a guy in the Training Logs section named Alpha, he can do dips with 7 plates attached to his body. The guy who holds the world record in dips per minute would have his arms ripped out of his sockets if he even attempted the lift. Whose stronger?

Eager to hear responses,



^^stronger is a relative term. you cant compare two different things like weighted dips and dips in a minute. They are two different kinds of strength. Thats why this argument can never be finalized because strength is a relative term.



You can make strength relative to anything you want, what time of day you are lifting, how old you are, the distance you cover on an exercise.

The only things that should really matter is how far you are moving something doing an exercise and how much weight you are moving through that range, as long as you aren't cheating.

Alot of people don't like to think that way because people don't like taking into account things about their body they cant change.

If I do a pullup from a dead hang at 6' 4" 220 and I travel 27 inches from bottom to top, that is 220lbs moving 27 inches which would equate to 495 foot pounds of work or 671 joules. I would be generating 3.05 joules of work for every pound of bodyweight.

If someone who is 5' 7" does a chin up through 21 inches ROM and he weighs 160 there is a difference. This person is generating 280 foot pounds of work or 380 joules. This guy would have to do 10 pullups to overcome the work I would do in 5 reps. This guy is generating on one pullup 2.375 joules of work for every pound of bodyweight.

The problem is that all reps are not created equal. Your arms are six inches shorter than mine. The difference in our weight I'm willing to concede on the grounds that I have more muscle mass than you so its only fair I have to pull more weight. HOWEVER, I also have to pull my weight .23 percent further. That isnt taken into account. You are doing less work. For every 100 pullups I do, I cover 23 percent more distance than you. Meaning you would have to do 2.3 more pullups out of every 10, 4.6 out of every 20 and so on.

So you can see how range of motion and weight can quickly overcome anything else on just one rep.

However the question was asked about strength. As long as distance traveled is constant, your simply talking about who is moving more weight (bodyweight and external weight combined) for the same quantity of reps.


+1 YEA! What HE said!


for the record if you weigh 220 you ARE NOT lifting all 220 lbs of that when you do a pull up.

I never said strength was relative to what time of the day it was, how old someone was or anything like that. I said you cannot compare two different feats of strength such as Weighted Dips vs Max Reps in a minute. Those are both feats of "strength" but are two completely different types of strength.

Also no one cares about how many foot pounds of work or joules of work you're lifting. What matters is how much weight you're lifting with full ROM and or how many reps you can get.




After you hit a max on the ladders do you then take a rest before descending the ladder? I cannot imagine working up to a max with only a 10 second rest and then just getting one less rep on the next set.

I think that this would apply to press ups as well as chins/pull ups. Going to max and getting only two less on the next set after 10 seconds rest seems unlikely to me.


This wasnt a personal attack, I'm not sure where your coming from with this post. So subtract the weight of the forearm? Yes no one cares about the weight of the forearm and up, the weight of the person will do.


^^I was the only person to say strength was relative and then you went off about all of that saying relative to age, time of day and whatnot. I didn't take it as an attack but your comments were directed at me and I addressed them.



Exactly, I was addressing you. I was asking why you said no one cares about joules or this and that, obviously you were defending yourself. Whatever. Anyway my point was that strength isnt relative. Not even a little bit. Strength is how much weight can you move. You could say how much weight you can move for reps but the further you get from 1 rep the less you are measuring strength and the more you are measuring endurance. If you were to say strength was relative you could start bringing in any variable you want.

You compared weighted dips to max reps in a minute and mentioned they were two completely different types of strength. Do you think maybe that is because one is not even strength but muscle endurance? And that that is why they are different? Not because they are "different types of strength"?



Yes, once you get to the top of the ladder, you go right back down. It's not as bad as you would think. Even when I'm coming to the end of my cycle and ready for the test, I'm still only able to go up to about 8 or 9 on each ladder (I do a max set before the ladders, which helps create some initial fatigue). Dropping one from there isn't a problem.