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Chin Ups...only 5

Am i the only one out there that can only do a few chin ups/pull ups. I think, given a push i could do about 7, but that would really be fucking hard. How shitty is that?!?! Anyone here got any good tips about how to increase my chin ups. My dream is to do 20 with no problems. I read that Pavel said to do them every day, but not full force (not until failure) and you can increase your reps easily like that. Any thoughts?



Pull ups/chin ups are my favourite exercise. I started with about 5-7 but can do over 10 now after doing them for over 4 months. This isnt everyday either. I do them about once a week. I think the best thing that helped me do more was using some weight in a backpack I would sling over my shoulders. I only put 5kg in there but I feel so light without it now and it really helped increase my max reps. Resistance is the way to go imo.

There are some great bits of info on this site concerning pull ups. The ABBH program is worth considering also using one of those resistance bands to support yourself to get a few more reps is worth trying.

Funny you should mention Pavel. I was reading the Naked Warrior, where he talks about greasing the groove - doing a few chinups throughout the day, just before opening this window.

Anyway, I’ve gone on several greasing the groove programs like Pavel suggested, without actually knowing that I was greasing the groove. The results were good!

With pushups, I went from 36 pushups, to 65 in 3 weeks. Right now, I’m doing a chinup grease the groove program, trying to get back what I had at 10 years old - I could do 19 chinups back then! I haven’t finished the program yet, but in 3 weeks, I gained 3 chinups (10 --> 13), and that’s after I used up all my newbie gains, and went on a bunch of chinup programs to try and raise my numbers (including CT’s “Keep your chin up”), with little, or no progress.

So, to conclude, DO grease the groove. It’ll do wonders for your chinup!

ZEB has some good hints…look for his thread on chin ups.
Good luck

Never, I repeat never do Chin-ups every day! That is one thing (and there are others) that Pavel is wrong about!

Read my Chin-up post from several months back. If you have any questions feel free to PM me.

Don’t get discouraged! Chin-ups are difficult to do for everyone, and even harder for those with certain body types. I will state that if you work hard, in most cases you can get that number up to 20! Hard to believe now but it can be done!

Never give up and never give in!

Let me know how you are doing.

Best To You,


Pavel’s techniques work. He either suggests doing a few reps (short of failure) throughout the day, every day. Or using the ladder method.

Something else you could try is to do more sets and less reps. Something like 8 sets of 3 or 10 sets of 3 or even 14 sets of singles.

There are many different methods. Do a search, as ZEB recently posted a huge thread about increasing your pull-ups.

Man, I’m in the same boat as you. I can, currently only do 5 pull ups. I was stuck on 3 for the longest. A few people have already mentioned this but, read the posts on chin/pull ups by ZEB. The first post helped me to be able to do 1 pull up, which I thought I’d never do. The second post helps with sticking points. They are the most informative ways to increase reps that I’ve read. I have a copy of the first post in my gym bag for easy reference. The main thing is just keep doing them. They’ll come along.

Good Luck.

Thanks so much guys for your help. It seems that on this thread we have two camps. Pavel (grease the groove) and Chins once per week. I do like the Pavel idea, but with only being able to do 5, i would be doing sets of 3 reps throught the day? How many? 3, 4 sets of 3 reps spaced out throughout the day? Just wondering? Ladder? Is that where you do 1 rep. Then rest. Then do 2. Then rest so on and then work you way down?

Thanks again for everyone’s time and input.



I do just pullups myself, trying to hit the back more than the arms. I side with a few of the other guys on here about using weight. I have a Dipping belt that I wear doing pullups too. I figure the stronger I get, the easier it is to do my own body weight. Right now I do about 5 x 3 x 25 lbs and I plan to increase the weight over time. The downside for me is I don’t tend to feel a pump in my lats until I use higher reps, but I sure end up sore the next day. Try to use weight one time, with low reps, and then next week no weight and higher reps. In fact I usually skip a week of pullups and alternate in Rows exercises.

ZEB’s post on Chins is great - there is another one by Charles Polquin - “Back to Basics” on the site somewhere too.

I am having trouble with them as well and can’t do more than 4 in a row right now. Strange thing tho, if I rest for a minute I can do another 4.


I would also say read ZEB’s post on chins and the “Back to Basics” article.

The best thing is to stick with it and in a couple months your numbers will go up. I was helping my one friend get in shape for his police academy, when he started, he was lucky to get 4, now he can do a dozen easy. I helped my gf go from only 3 to being able to do more than that for her last work set now, I believe she’s at about 7, and that’s after having to have her shoulder re-habbed.

I’m looking to get up to 20, at about 16 now, I should be there within a month.

Don’t worry, you’ll get there

Something I did to increase my numbers on dips would probably work for this… I read about someone doing this on this site before, as a matter of fact. Pick a number that is higher than what you think you can do-- if all you can do is 7 choose 10 or 12. Now do that many chins, in as many sets as it takes you to get them done.
Next time you do your chins, shoot for more. Keep this up and eventually 7 won’t even be enough for a warm up.

Using this method got my bodyweight dips up from 100 to 130 in about 3 weeks, after which I started adding weight to the point where I was hanging a 45 off the belt and still getting in a total of 60 dips.

What worked best for me is the ABBH program. Not the original one where you had to do 5 sets of 10 pullups (no way I could get 10 with any additional weight), but when program was switched where one did 10 sets of 3, then progressed to 10 sets of 4, and finally 10 sets of 5 over a course of 23 days. 50 pullups in one workout - I would have never thought possible when I started the program.

Wayne, to answer your question, you would be doing 2, not 3 chinups about 4 times a day, the first week. On the second week, add another chinup, and on the third week, yet another. Don’t do chinups on the weekend, and at the beginning of week 4, after having rested on the weekend, test your 1 set max. I’d bet that by now, you’re able to do 8-9 chins.

There are a lot of different paths you could take here. However, I tend to agree with ZEB that chin ups are one of the few movements that you cannot do everyday. Besides, your wrists will be killing you if you do chins everyday, mix in some pull ups and some neutral grip chins.

I personally am a big fan of weighted chins. Get yourself a dip belt or rig an old weight belt and start doing weighted chins. Even at your level, you can still add 5-10 lbs and it will make a difference. The more weight you can pull up, the lighter your bodyweight will feel.

Also, ZEB has some good advice to offer on chinning. Here are som links to his past posts:




One last thing. As much as I love doing weighted chins, in the last 4 months I started using bands and love it. I am talking about using them as resistance, not assistance. I feel a lot more explosive coming out of the bottom. Bands have definitely helped my chinning speed. I have also used chains, but I don’t like it as much.

Keep chinning,

[quote]bailey_run wrote:
What worked best for me is the ABBH program. Not the original one where you had to do 5 sets of 10 pullups (no way I could get 10 with any additional weight), but when program was switched where one did 10 sets of 3, then progressed to 10 sets of 4, and finally 10 sets of 5 over a course of 23 days. 50 pullups in one workout - I would have never thought possible when I started the program.[/quote]

That’s exactly what I’ve been doing (the 10x3 up to 10x5 with 25lbs added). I’m on 10x4 right now and I think I should have used more weight at this point, but I’m going to wait it out and see how the 10x5 goes. However, I’ve modified it a bit in that I’m also doing chins on the 5x10 day without weight.

Chins are by-far my favorite exercise… Agree with the above posters: use weight, even if just a small amount at first.

This method works very well. It can leave your muscles pretty beatup, so I usually only use it once a week at most.

Xen Nova- what were the reactions to your write up on pull-ups?

Right now I am experimenting with one-arm lockoffs (chin-grip holds in the top position). Shortly after starting this routine I saw my pull-ups jump from 16 to 18. I am going to try training almost exclusively using this method to see what the results are; I’ll get back to y’all when I’ve been doing it for long enough to make it worthwhile.

Many who are capable of 30, 40, or more pull-ups attribute this ability to kipping technique, and do their pull-ups very quickly.

Chin ups/ pullups = nice, powerful back