T Nation

One Armed Chin / Pulldown

I was looking forward to trying out the recent one arm chin advice. I’ve been doing chins now for quite a while and they have hit a plateau big time. Hopefully this might let me bust through!

However, being a mere mortal with no hope in hell of supporting my weight with one arm or massively rearranging my commercial gym, I had to adjust it a bit.

It occured to me that you can do this thing on the lat pull down if you get the right handle on it. I’m figuring I can really up the tension by using the other hand to assist on the pull but using only one arm on the release.

I expected as much, but my left arm is a fair bit weaker than the right arm - failing on the grip sooner and working harder in general. Whats cool is that I know I’m upping the effort level as I’m doing more than half my bodyweight.

I wonder, maybe the same principle could be used benching on the smith machine? Let the second arm assist on the way up and go very heavy on one arm on the way down.

I realize the smith or the pulldown aren’t the same and don’t carry across directly, but hopefully the ability to overload will help make up for it. Since I don’t have a training partner it at least makes it feasible.

Sound reasonable?

I missed the recent one arm chin advice you were talking about…where was it article or post?

My experience with the pulldown machine was that there was no real carry-over to chinning strength. I stopped doing them years ago honestly. Chins are one of the most important exercises you can do and with so many variations out there, who needs the pulldown machine?(Unless you cant handle chins yet or you’re so damn big its not feasible).

Of course, Im not a guy to give advice on the one-arm chin as I have yet to accomplish one, despite being able to crank out decent chin numbers(25 or so with good form).

If Im not mistaken, you’re around 200 lbs right? Im even a little heavier than that, so one-armed chins may not be our thing. Of course, thats not an excuse to not try so good luck.

My advice would be to run away from the smith machine and lat PD. And not start with the “one arm come down” untill you can do at least 20 chins. Personally at my skinny ass status (225 lbs) I have put the 20 chins goal on the back burner, and I am now shooting for 18 dead hangs with a 22lb vest.
Good Luck
WIll42

Oh no, my dreams of finding a way to hammer through this chinning plateau are getting crushed.

Yeah, I’m just over 200lbs. I’ve done some ladders, I’ve done some higher volume low rep work, hit them once a week, twice a week and three times a week, with pulldowns or without pulldown and so on.

I’ve gotten up to 7 or 8 consecutive full range chins – but thats as far as I’ve gotten.

Is there some type of stabilizer issue or weak link in the chain that could be specially worked, perhaps grip? If I can’t figure something out soon I’m going to put it on the back burner and put the effort somewhere else for a while.

To be honest, 7 or 8 chins isnt going any where near where I would imagine you have to be to hit the one arm chin.

I know this might be tough, but if you havent read Zeb’s post on chins and followed his advice, I would do so. Ill bet you’ll be cranking out 15 full range chins in no time. Then really look into the one arm chin.

I’m not actually trying to do “one armed chins” at this point.

I’m trying to put a well more than half of my weight on one arm at a time as a shock to the system to improve my chins…

:wink:

You can also use a Jump Stretch band to lighten your bodyweight

Vroom,

     JMO, but at 7-8 chins you probably don't need to worry about any fancy techniques yet. Just doing as many sets of five reps as you can two or three times a week and testing your max once every week or every other week should up your chin numbers in no time. If you want more variation, try a ladder workout.

Ladder workout: Do 1 chin. Rest 5 seconds. Do 2 chins. Rest 10 seconds… keep doing more reps and resting 5 seconds per rep until you fail to add a rep on your next set, then take the full rest period for however many reps you did in that set and start over again at 1 rep. Repeat this sequence until the ladders get really small. Do this three times a week, or do it twice a week and test your max once a week.

If you have plenty of grip strength but always fail in the top of chin, try holding the top position for time on the last repetition of your workout, then finishing with a slow neg.

Work up to ~20 bodyweight reps, then check out the One-Arm Chinning Guide in the Bodyweight Strength Training Articles section of the dragondoor.com website.

Hope some of this helped,

Ross Hunt

How about Personal Messaging your good buddy Zeb? He knows everything about chins.

Back in the days before time, when I weighed 165 lbs, banging out 25 chins was no more difficult than sneezing.

Nowadays, at 195 lbs, if I break 13, I consider it a monster set. Amusingly, my strength’s actually gone up in the span… but the chances of managing a one-arm pullup in the near future look exceedingly slim…

DI

I was recently on vacation without access to a pull-up bar. What I ended up doing, was hanging a towel over a rafter and doing pullups/chinups by holding each end of the towel. I found this very difficult, but by supinating my hands during the movement (which you can’t do on a fixed bar) gave me an interesting contraction, not to mention that it really worked my grip hard. Anyway, when I got back from vacation, I noticed that I could do 2 more pullups (full range, dead hang) than before. This was just in one week (4 workouts of 3 sets). I’d say give this a try. Good luck, I hate plateaus.

DB

[quote]ILOVEGWBUSH3 wrote:
How about Personal Messaging your good buddy Zeb? He knows everything about chins.[/quote]

Don’t know everything about Chins…but I do know what candidate to bet on so that I don’t have to post with some foolish name for three months. :slight_smile:

i remember from a post on another web site some guy said…well here is what he said:

"I don’t think U need to get to 200% lift to be able to do 1AP. As a young man growing up I was challenged by My Dad to do 1AP, saying it’s impossible. I 'd won by training for 3 months with a loaded barbell on my feet. I did not remember how many kilogram it was. But I weighted then about 115 lbs and the barbell was about 30-50 lbs at best, which was about 1/4 or so my bw.

After getting up to 15 or more rep with that I was able to knock out 1 rep of 1AP/ Later on I did 2 with right arm and 1 with left arm. Did not think a big deal about it and lost interest. Now I have not try 1AP in awhile but I could hold 200% my weight on top part on the high bar and also could hold up there with 1 arm isometricly easily at 145 lbs bw. It is not neccessarily means a 200 lbs man can duplicate the same method.

Double that means 400 lbs phew! Now ask yourself if you can pull down 400#??? first as in cable pull down?"

Out of curiosity, have your rows hit a plateau, also?

I agree with Ross Hunt.

It may be possible for you to achieve your 1 arm pull-up goal with the lat-pull machine. I’d say give this a try if you want to use lat pulls:

Keep doing heavy 1-arm lat pulls, but don’t lock your legs under the support thing (or do them on your knees). Increase the weight as rapidly as possible, don’t worry about reps. As the weight you lat pull approaches your bodyweight you’ll notice that you become somewhat unstable as you sit.

That’s because the downward force on the weight equals the upward force on you. If you get to the point where the lat pulldown machine’s weight exceeds yours, you’ll do a 1 arm pull-up on the lat machine. The weight won’t move, you will.

It’s worth a shot and it’d be really cool to see if it works.

[quote]Yoda-x wrote:
It may be possible for you to achieve your 1 arm pull-up goal with the lat-pull machine. I’d say give this a try if you want to use lat pulls:

Keep doing heavy 1-arm lat pulls, but don’t lock your legs under the support thing (or do them on your knees). Increase the weight as rapidly as possible, don’t worry about reps. As the weight you lat pull approaches your bodyweight you’ll notice that you become somewhat unstable as you sit.

That’s because the downward force on the weight equals the upward force on you. If you get to the point where the lat pulldown machine’s weight exceeds yours, you’ll do a 1 arm pull-up on the lat machine. The weight won’t move, you will.

It’s worth a shot and it’d be really cool to see if it works.[/quote]

Think, Yoda does.

accentuated eccentric chins have always worked pretty well if you hit it hard once a week for 2 weeks, about 135% of 1RM for 5x5 or 8x3 or 4.

Another cool technique that works nicely is isometric holds. Strap up bunch of extra weight onto a dip belt and just hold yourself at different positions in the ROM, especially where you find yourself weakest at. Doing holds of 5-10 seconds then rest 30 seconds, go again for about 10 sets each position.

Also, try and split up the iso holds, as in monday do the full hanging portion of the chinup. Weds you could do the end of the range of motion (with your chin over the bar) and then on friday you can go somewhere in between. If you split this up, and don’t do the accentuated eccentrics it might be a good idea to up the volume by doing either more sets or longer holds.

Just hanging from a bar with more weight on you will also help your grip strength a ton!

good luck dude

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[quote]vroom wrote:
However, being a mere mortal with no hope in hell of supporting my weight with one arm…[/quote]

You can’t even hang freely from one hand? Then you definately need more grip strength…

Actually, just tested it myself, and I can hardly hang freely one handed from a doorway chin-up bar either. Seems like my wrist extensors or flexors are giving out first (depending on grip).

Yet at a playground near here, I have no problem gliding back and forth one handed on a tyrolean traverse type device (as mountaineers cross chasms with pulley and rope). In fact, I can withstand the jerking at the end when it hits the stop, and glide myself back to the starting point by swinging my hips backwards, all without letting go.

I think that’s because the handle on that device is skinnier than my chin-up bar. Makes sense for the small hands of children. So besides improving grip strength, perhaps a skinnier bar would be useful in progressing toward a one-arm chin.

This is a goal of mine too, if not just for the sheer physical prowess, then to assure greater balance of the vertical pulling muscles with a unilateral exercise not requiring a machine.