One Arm Chin Ups / Sternum Chin Ups

I am trying to take my upper body strength to the next level by incorporating some one armed exercises. However, I do not think that my grip strength is up to par with my ambitions. I have seen people use wrist wraps as a crutch for grip, would it be viable or advisable to buy some in order to do one arm chin ups, or should I just suck it up and if I fall off the bar, land let out a grunt and do it again? In addition, I was cranking out some sternum chin-ups, and my question regards body position. Should my body parallel to the deck, or should I just have my sternum touch the bar, remaining more vertical, and then back down?

Thanks for the help.

If you are strong enough for one arem chins then your grip has to be as well. Saying you can do them and then having to tie your hand to the bar doesn’t look as cool.

Go for towel holds or chins as accessories or grab some thick bar holds.

As far as sternum chinups go, I think that you are just pulling to your sternum. You can make it harder, like the gymnast strength article says, by body position being parrallel.


The best training for one arm chins (assuming you are not able to do any as yet)usually happens in several stages. First, hang from the bar with one arm. Do two sets at the end of your regular training session. Don’t rush this period take at least four weeks.

Next, take an underhand grip (Chin-up fashion)and from the top position (get a bench to stand on)lower yourself as slowly as you can with one arm, this will not be easy. Do two of these negatives at the end of each training session. Do this for four to six weeks.

Next, grap the bar with a Chin-up grip. The free hand should be placed on your wrist that is holding the bar. Perform as many Chins in good form as possible. Do only two or three sets as you work these into your regular Chinning routine. Do this for an additional six weeks.

Next, begin to lower your hand down your arm. You began by holding your wrist, now grab your your forearm, or lower if possible. Perform three sets in this manner. This stage should last about four to six weeks as well.

Next, work your hand down your arm grabbing the bicep and performing as many reps as possible, three sets. Again, don’t rush take another four weeks or so here.

Eventually, you must remove your hand from your other arm. Some people can now perform a one armed Chin-up, some still cannot. For those still having a difficult time I recommend hanging a rope, or towel off the bar and holding it at as low a level as you can in order to Chin yourself. This stage could also last up to six weeks or so.

Eventually, you will be able to perform the one arm Chin. Other than the obvious body weight to strength ratio needed to perform this movement, you also need balance. Your body is not used to working in this way and it will fight to achieve the balance that it needs. To that end it is a matter of getting used to the movement.

If you have low body fat, high strength levels, train this movement three times per week and take the proper rest periods after a six week session you should be able to perform this movement in under one year.

Make sure that you cut back some on your normal Chinning routine. Also, train both arms equally!

Good Luck,


have you ever done one zeb?

How much do you weigh and how much weight additional weight can you currently do a chin with?

[quote]Chris Aus wrote:
have you ever done one zeb?[/quote]


Yes, I can do them.


      What is your opinion of Jack Arnow's and Alexander Lechner's One-Arm Chinning Guide? I'd like to know what you think of it, if you've read it? It is in the Bodyweight Strength Training Articles archive at the dragondoor website. [Moderator - sorry if this reference is verboten]
       I dabbled in three of the exercises you describe - one-arm lockoffs, wrist-on-arm-assisted one-arm chins, and a few rope-assisted ones, for about two months, maybe a little bit more. Very good grip training, much better than weighted pull-ups, and lots of fun.

[quote]Chris Aus wrote:
How much do you weigh and how much weight additional weight can you currently do a chin with?[/quote]

I currently 148 lbs, and I can do about 35 straight chin ups without a weight. When I attach a 25 lbs plate to my belt, I can do about 12 straight chin ups. I usually do an USMC workout titled “Over the top”. It is a pyramid scheme workout. I can do about 2 one handed chin ups on an upper body day. If I am fresh, and haven’t PT’d at all, I could probably do seven.

Wow thats strange, I know that you had impressive totals for unweighted chins for reps but youve stated in the past that you arent that good at doing chins with weight…

Hey Ross,

Sorry, I have not seen the articles that you are referring to.

7 1 armed chins?
Did a search and saw that Zeb can do 10 consecutive 1 arm chins… Any chance of a video from either of you?

The thing that Im not coming to terms with is if you are getting 35 reps with bw and only 12 reps with bw+25 I really dont see how you can get many reps with bw+100+ which is what you would need to get a 1 arm chin…

Same with Zeb hes posted impressive totals for unweighted chins, but from what I recall his weighted chin numbers werent that impressive…

Youd need to be getting reps with bw+75-90% of bodyweight for the reps 7-10 reps you guys are claiming to be in the ball park, and from your weighted chin numbers im not seeing how thats possible…

What am i missing

the dynamics of the one arm chin is different then when doing 2 arm chinups. look at the angle of pull and shoulder level. obvious the side that is holding the bar is going to be much higher then the other side. am i wrong with this reasoning and should your goal be to maintain good form as if you were doing 2 arm chinups? laters pk

I think the thing you are confused about is that in order to do 35 bodyweight chins, you need strength endurance (i.e. high reps). In order to do chins with 70% of your bodyweight, for a few reps (under 3), you need more strength (limit strength), rather than strength endurance. Make sence?
Hope I helped

How exactly am I confused? Im not confused from what I can see! Infact what you stated is entirely my point…

To do a 1 arm chin which is effectively a double body weight chin requires large amounts of limit and relative strength… To however to 34-42 chins it requires large amounts of strength endurance as you stated…

My questions is how these guys how have great strength and endurance can perform so well in a limit strength exercise (1 Arm chins) when their limit strength (when measured with a 2 arm weighted pull up) is really nothing special at all.

The numbers dont make sense… You put it more elegantly than I but the point is the same.

Although I haven’t even attempted one arm chins in a while and wasn’t successfull when I did, A basic rule of thumb is to put emphasis on an excercise by doing that excercise at the begining of the week, beginning of the workout, then training auxilary muscles afterward and in the following workouts.

[quote]pkradgreek wrote:
the dynamics of the one arm chin is different then when doing 2 arm chinups. look at the angle of pull and shoulder level. obvious the side that is holding the bar is going to be much higher then the other side. am i wrong with this reasoning and should your goal be to maintain good form as if you were doing 2 arm chinups? laters pk[/quote]

For me at least, ring pull-ups are much easier than bar pull-ups. A one-hand pull-up would be similar to a ring pull-up except for the body lean. Your wrists can take their strongest angle for bicep pull - approximately thumbs-up for me - and you can pull to your shoulder without hitting your head on the bar. Another factor is body english if it’s allowed - with a one arm pull-up you can use a stop-and-go motion with leg-swimming to crank your way up in steps, and twist around to shift the load to different muscles - that’s the only way I can do a one-arm pull-up. For weighted two-arm pull-ups, the body english would be much less useful.


      I only trained one-armers for two months before going back to weighted pull-ups to keep volume low, but my experience is that one-armers are much different from weighted pull-ups. In particular, there is a huge emphasis on grip and arm strength as opposed to lat strength. Also, there's a weird corkscrew motion that I never really got down when you one-armers on a bar. It's a highly specialized skill. That explains why there might NOT be a direct correlation between weighted pull-up strength and one-arm chin strength.
      As to why there might be a correlation between high-rep bodyweight chins and one-arm chinning ability, beats me, but maybe it has something to do with bodyweight. Weightlifter types have big lats and a lot of strength, which makes them good at low-rep weighted pull-ups. Gymnast types have less body mass and better strength to bodyweight ratios.

Guys with more one-armer experience than me - does this sound on the mark to you?