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Chin Ups In 12 Weeks

Hi

I’m a 24 year old female, seriously weight training for about a year and a half now. I’ve recently read an article on the site by Charles Poliquin : The Top Seven Upper Back Exercises. Very informative article, thank you!

One of the things that grabbed me though was the following about the Sternum chin-ups:

"One of my female assistants Jose Tremblay from Montreal can do them using a 5050 tempo (that’s five seconds on the way down and five seconds on the way up). Who ever said that women can’t do chins?

By the way, one of the ways that I assess the quality of a coach or personal trainer is by a simple test. If qualified, a coach or personal trainer should be able to get a female trainee to do 12 shoulder-width supinated chin-ups in 12 weeks?that is, of course, assuming that her bodyfat is within normal range. This test, as you can imagine, clearly indicates that there are very few personal trainers out there who know what they’re doing."

Wow!!! Now like I said, I’ve been training for about a year and a half now, and I thought I’d be patient and give myself until the end of the year to do a pull up without any assitance. Now he says that it’s possible for 12 reps in 12 weeks??!!

Now although I don’t look like Monica Brant yet(note the YET in the sentence :-)), I’m in good shape and at intermediate training level! Could you give me some pointers regarding the chins please? Maybe I’ll be able to achieve this in a few months!!

Your help is much appreciated.

Tis best to perform bent-over barbell and dmbl rows if your chins aren’t up to snuff.
This will bring your chin reps up quickly.
You never mentioned how many you can do unassisted. Have someone spot you while doing chins, this allows you to cheat, but still work. A good spotter will place his/her arms directly under your shins (your knees should be bent at 90 degrees). When you bang out that last unassisted rep, have your spotter lift you from your shins for another 3-4…Hahaha…now thats the ticket.
Good Luck.

Chizzled,

     Why will doing rows rather than chins bring up your chins faster? I am not a fan of the manual spotter technique; it is hard to monitor the amount of assistance provided, and cheating to grind out extra reps is highly overrated when strength is the limiting factor.

Artemis,

     Good screen name. Here is one technique that I have seen work for women: Alternate rep ranges and methods with each training session. One day, do pull-ups. After a day or two of rest, on your second pull-up day, use Jumpstretch bands (google 'em, or check out the T-Jack article on this item) to unweight your bodyweight and do more reps. On your third training session, do some other pulling exercise for a little variety (like lat pull-downs for higher reps, or rows). Occasionally, just climb on the bar and see how many chins you can do. Finish off your workouts with bar hangs and lockoffs (holding the top position of the chin) for time, to strengthen your grip.

For a more concrete example of this sort of a program, check out Christian Thibaudeau’s article ‘Keep Your Chin Up’ via the Search engine.

if you don’t have a partner try this take the Iron Woody Bands get a set of them and attach one to the chin up bar by looping one around the bar then thru so it hangs then put your knees or feet on them to assist in the pull ups or chin ups then lower the bands to a lower level when you can reach the 10 to 12 rep range…this is a good thing to do when you have no training partner

One of the best ways to improve your chinning ability (assuming you can’t do any) is to do sets of negative reps. Start at the top of the movement and slowly lower yourself down for 3 to 5 seconds. Do sets of 3’s for the first couple of weeks and work up to sets of 6 over a 6 to 8 week period. Use a neutral or supinated shoulder width grip.To ensure that you are not turning it into a bicep exercise place your head as far back as possible (looking at the ceiling) and try to keep your chest pointed towards the bar. After about four weeks of negatives while working up to your 6 negative reps start each chinning workout by trying to do 1 to 3 full chinups without an accentuated negative. It should become easier to do these by about week 6. You will know if you are doing the negative chins correctly as the next day your lats will be very sore and if you are not your biceps will be sore.

[quote]tekteach wrote:
One of the best ways to improve your chinning ability (assuming you can’t do any) is to do sets of negative reps. Start at the top of the movement and slowly lower yourself down for 3 to 5 seconds. Do sets of 3’s for the first couple of weeks and work up to sets of 6 over a 6 to 8 week period. Use a neutral or supinated shoulder width grip.To ensure that you are not turning it into a bicep exercise place your head as far back as possible (looking at the ceiling) and try to keep your chest pointed towards the bar. After about four weeks of negatives while working up to your 6 negative reps start each chinning workout by trying to do 1 to 3 full chinups without an accentuated negative. It should become easier to do these by about week 6. You will know if you are doing the negative chins correctly as the next day your lats will be very sore and if you are not your biceps will be sore.[/quote]

WOW, i was gonna say just do the negatives for a while, but this guy is for real.

Artemis, listen to this guy.

Artemis…If you follow this program…I can guaranee you get to 12 Reps of Chins.

First…start your back workout with this program…do it no more than once every five days…but you’ll need to do at least 12 workouts in 12 weeks.

Start each set at the begining of the minute. If you have 12 sets it will take 12 minutes.

Workout 1: 2 Reps per set for 12 sets
Worktout 2: 3 Reps per set for 8 Sets
Workout 3: 4 Reps per set for 6 Sets
Workout 4: 5 Reps per set for 5 Sets
Workout 5: 6 Reps per set for 4 Sets
Workout 6: 8 Reps per set for 3 Sets
Workout 7: 12 Reps per set

Notice this method allows you to do the same total volume (24 reps) in workout 6 in 3 minutes that you did in 12 minutes in workout 1.

If you don’t reach the reps for any workout, repeat it. You will likely have to do this for more than one of the workouts. Only do any given workout 2 times, if you don’t reach the second time you should move on to the next workout.

If you can’t do the first workout, you need to work up to that level. The trainer you are speaking of must assume this as a base.

"Workout 1: 2 Reps per set for 12 sets
Worktout 2: 3 Reps per set for 8 Sets
Workout 3: 4 Reps per set for 6 Sets
Workout 4: 5 Reps per set for 5 Sets
Workout 5: 6 Reps per set for 4 Sets
Workout 6: 8 Reps per set for 3 Sets
Workout 7: 12 Reps per set

Notice this method allows you to do the same total volume (24 reps) in workout 6 in 3 minutes that you did in 12 minutes in workout 1.

If you don’t reach the reps for any workout, repeat it. You will likely have to do this for more than one of the workouts. Only do any given workout 2 times, if you don’t reach the second time you should move on to the next workout."

On that last sentence, you state to only do a workout twice before moving on, even if you failed to get all the reps. I’m lost as to how this will help you. If you can’t get all of the reps in a previous workout, then how do you expect to get more reps in the later sets of the next workout, especially if the trainee fails in one of the early sets of the previous workout? It sounds to me like you’re going to fry your CNS this way. If I’m missing something here, please tell me. I just don’t see the benefit in this.

On that last sentence, you state to only do a workout twice before moving on, even if you failed to get all the reps. I’m lost as to how this will help you. If you can’t get all of the reps in a previous workout, then how do you expect to get more reps in the later sets of the next workout, especially if the trainee fails in one of the early sets of the previous workout? It sounds to me like you’re going to fry your CNS this way. If I’m missing something here, please tell me. I just don’t see the benefit in this."

It is simple…if you go to the gym and try to do 10 reps of a weight and only get 9, then you go again and only 9 a second time…what is a person to do…try a third time? I don’t think the body will adapt and give you the magical 10th rep. But if you increase the weight and go for 8 reps in the next workout you’re changing things up and forcing the body to adapt. I’d bet donuts to dollars that if you go back after that workout you’d get the 10 reps at the original weight.

Make sense?

ZEB, where art thou?

"It is simple…if you go to the gym and try to do 10 reps of a weight and only get 9, then you go again and only 9 a second time…what is a person to do…try a third time? I don’t think the body will adapt and give you the magical 10th rep. But if you increase the weight and go for 8 reps in the next workout you’re changing things up and forcing the body to adapt. I’d bet donuts to dollars that if you go back after that workout you’d get the 10 reps at the original weight.

Make sense?"

Umm, no, because you’re not dealing with increasing weights in the workout you outlined. You’re still dealing with the same bodyweight from workout to workout, and you never mentioned anything about adding weight at any time (I re-read it several times just to be sure). You’re workout MIGHT work if you WERE dealing with weight, but that was the whole point of my post in the first place; if you’re just using the same weight, you’re not going to get more reps on the later sets if you failed on the early sets in a previous workout. Simple as that.

Sorry, forgot to say in my last post that if you DID mean to say you’re supposed to add weight from one workout to the next, then the program you outlined might work pretty well for an experienced trainee.

I do not believe, however, adding weight that soon will be beneficial to a female trainee, as that was the original topic of this post. With the workout you outlined, I can be pretty sure that no beginner is going to go from doing no pull-ups (assuming most beginners can’t do one full, strict rep) to doing two sets of 12 in 60 days doing the workout once only every five days (assuming, at the most, you have to do the first 6 workouts twice [62=12], and you’e doing them every five days as you stated [125=60]). I could be wrong; that’s just my feeling.

P.S. I wasn’t being a smartass typing out the math. I just figured what I said would make a little more sense if I showed where I derived the 60 days from.

Thank you guys for all your comments and advice!! I am going to work in the alternate rep ranges and methods as well as the negatives into my program. I’m a strong believer in negatives as I’ve seen them improve my strength in so many other areas. I could still use assistance getting up and then just lower myself on my own right?

One thing I have been concentrating on really hard is to make sure I’m actually using my lats when I do a pull up and not my biceps.

Mdamon, I have to agree with CC. At this stage I have to first be able to chin my own bodyweight before adding any extra weight. I’ve tried similar workouts before and they helped me get stronger up to a stage, lifting myself with less and less assitance, but then I can’t get any further.

[quote]CC wrote:
Sorry, forgot to say in my last post that if you DID mean to say you’re supposed to add weight from one workout to the next, then the program you outlined might work pretty well for an experienced trainee.

I do not believe, however, adding weight that soon will be beneficial to a female trainee, as that was the original topic of this post. With the workout you outlined, I can be pretty sure that no beginner is going to go from doing no pull-ups (assuming most beginners can’t do one full, strict rep) to doing two sets of 12 in 60 days doing the workout once only every five days (assuming, at the most, you have to do the first 6 workouts twice [62=12], and you’e doing them every five days as you stated [125=60]). I could be wrong; that’s just my feeling.

P.S. I wasn’t being a smartass typing out the math. I just figured what I said would make a little more sense if I showed where I derived the 60 days from.[/quote]

Firstly…this workout assumes you can do the first workout, if you can’t you don’t have the base for this program…I indicated that in my first post…Secondly…you are correct this is typically designed for a male trainee looking to do chins w/ addded weight…I went from being able to do 5 reps w/ 45 LBS to being able to do 12 reps w/ 45 LBS in 8 workouts.

The idea of taking a specific volume spread out over a longer time (e.g. 24 reps in 12 minutes) and gradually squeezing out the time (e.g. 24 reps in 3 minutes) is a surefire technique for getting to a rep count.

Finally a scenario, when you do 2 reps for 12 sets and fail on the 12th set…don’t you think you COULD pull out 3 reps for at least 5 or 6 sets the next time out, and maybe get to 8 sets 3 reps each in a couple of workouts…I suggest you try it, because it works…I must admit i agree that I didn’t consider sex of the trainee and a female might have a difficult time getting to a point where they can do the first workout. That’s where the negatives come into play.

Let me start this post by saying I hope you don’t think I’m trying to shoot you down or make you look bad. I just want to be sure that a program a beginner might pick up is going to be helpful instead of getting them discouraged when they can’t complete a specified workout.

“Finally a scenario, when you do 2 reps for 12 sets and fail on the 12th set…don’t you think you COULD pull out 3 reps for at least 5 or 6 sets the next time out, and maybe get to 8 sets 3 reps each in a couple of workouts…I suggest you try it, because it works…I must admit i agree that I didn’t consider sex of the trainee and a female might have a difficult time getting to a point where they can do the first workout. That’s where the negatives come into play.”

This again kind of goes back to what I was originally saying, in that it would seem to make sense that a trainee could get one more rep for fewer sets IF the trainee failed to get all of their reps on the LAST set. In a real world setting, however, this kind of progress cannot always be expected, especially after having done the specified rep/set scheme only twice over a ten day period. I was concerned in the case where the trainee were to fail on an early set. For instance, if the trainee has progressed to the 3-rep stage, and they failed to get the third rep on, say, the fifth set of the SECOND 3-rep workout (after which case they’re supposed to move on anyway, according to the original plan), is it really feasible to think they are going to get 4 reps for five sets and beyond of the next workout while maintaining good form?

Again, I’m not trying to pick apart your plan, because I think it has some serious potential. As you clarify it more, it becomes much more feasible to me. The original outline, however, just seemed a bit too much for a beginner to me. The main thing I take exception to is only performing a particular workout twice before moving on to the next, regardless of success rate.

No offense taken…at all!

I agree that moving on when falling way short on one phase introduces challenges. The reason i propose it is mainly to keep moving to hit the 12 week target. Though I do believe someone who pushes themselves and starts out with a good base can hit these targets.

The real question is…if you are stuck on a set/rep scheme and making no progress what do you do? The variables you can change are 1) resistance 2) sets 3) reps 4) rest 5) exercize.

Resistance is a variable that can be manipuled w/ a dipping belt, but I didn’t want to suggest that because there is a mental aspect to lifting additional weight on a pullup.

Exercize…there really aren’t complementary movements that can be done as w/, for example, switching between incline and flat bench and between bar and dumbell presses. Most increas your bench by 25 LB programs use this type of mix.

That leaves sets, reps, and rest…which I believe are the best ways to driver your pullup progress forward.

An option-not the “END ALL.” Set up a chin-up bar in your house somewhere (bedroom door) and do 3 perfect reps (or 2 or 1) everytime you pass that point. You will accumulate 45-60 perfect reps that way. I wouldn’t be suprised to see someone who can do 3 reps get 12 within 2 weeks this way.

Or in the gym, I’d do 6 perfect doubles in 10 minutes every 2-3 days and add weight, or reduce time when I could do that. Losing a little weight can GREATLY increase your reps. Don’t try to take the biceps out of it if your goal is to do the chins, DO power curls with a dumbell and try to catch and reverse the weight at the midpoint. You bicep tendon has to be trained for high force work or it will shut you down.

Negatives are good, but I like to try to do them for 20 seconds starting with bodyweight and adding 10 pounds per “set” until I can’t last the 20. Also, changing grips. I really like a neutral shoulder width grip for negatives.

Finally, I found that if I did 1 or 2 reps with 25 pounds extra before going for bodyweight reps, it about doubled my reps on the rep-set.