T Nation

Retaining Strength/Changing Exericses


I kept doing chins for the last few months (6-8)... my only back exercise. Now I was thinking of doing rows for a month or two as to add some mass. The problem is I want to keep my strength on chins.Would doing 3-5 reps/session with something like 80-80-85-90 of my max be enough to keep my strength? I might also start rope climbing (I'm doing it just to train my speed and maybe do some negatives ;D) and/or doing one arm lockoffs...
many thanks, Thorn


I don't see any reason why that wouldn't maintain your chins. In fact, with the rope climbing and rows your chins may even get stronger with less direct "chinning" work. In the military we used to do a ton of rope climbing for our obstacle courses and me and a couple of friends used to throw one or two sandbags into a backpack and climb just to help our strength and subsequently our speed in the climb. In the end, I can only conclude that that helped our pullups a good deal too (how can it not). Good luck to ya.


Thanks. The problem is that the rope climbing isn't sure (I am not sure if I will be allowed acces to a rope :expressionless: ).So I should keep it with just rows and a few (very) chins?



I understand about the rope climbing. Even in the military we had to "sneak" it in because your supposed to have a corpsman (medic) around when you do the obstacle course. You could supplement with something like towel chins to boost your grip strength and change things up a bit for your lats. just a thought.


I would also suggest you keep some form of rowing as part of your program year round. Chins/pullups, even though for your lats, act the same way as your pecs in that the internally rotate the humerous. Rowing will help keep your body balanced by hitting the often neglected scapular retractors.


another thing I thought of, how are your rotator cuffs? some external rotation exercises might help as all those pullups might be overdoing it on the internal rotation. I would also agree that rows should be in there year round, one way or another. I was negligent in that reguard for some time and now that rows are a staple in my workouts my back is a helluva lot thicker and a helluva lot stronger all around


I neglected rows for some time and wish I hadn't, but actually am glad because its a new fronier of muscle I can still add.

ROWS FOR ME, mean 2 different things, so you might want to see if its true for you as well.

I can bend over almost horizontal and pull up to the lower pecs using primarily TRAPS and rear delts and also really working the forearms (another weak point for me). There is no ARCHING of the back in this form.

OR, I can bend over less than horizontal, ranging from 30-60 degrees, and arch the back and pull to the waist. This is an excellent lat exercise although I prefer to do it with dumbells to increase ROM.

If your forearms are the weakest link when you rep out on chins (overhand) then the first form of rows should keep them strong.

If your lats are the weak point, and or if your talking underhand grip, then the second form should be fine, but it will not build the lower traps like the first.

You might loose some chins anyway as you may pack on 5-7 quick pounds.

At any rate, even if you loose your chinning strength, it should come back quickly.


Strength maintenance doesn't take as mcuh work as building strength. There are numerous ways to approach this.

You can test your 6-10rm max in chins once a week to maintain strength. You can continue training chins in addition to rowing.

As long as you don't stop chinning altogether, you should be alright.


Right. Really, I don't see why you would stop doing rows. They hit your back muscles in a different way than chins. Best to do both. You can do them in the same workout or alternate. How many times per week do you work upper body?


I don't know what your worried about... I have always included verticle and horizontal pulling in all my workouts. Look at the articles on this site most if not all also include both verticle and horizontal.

If you have been doing a ton of chinups you may have to cut back some to not over work your back, but even then you could build it up over time. Also you won't need alot of volume to maintain strength, but also there is no reason to severly limit the volume of verticle pulling.


Thanks. Well, this means my new program will be something like 6x rows (problem: I currently bent row 100lbs with strict form, but db row 65/hand).
I have noticed that after all my sets of bent rowing my last session I was still able to do a 90%RM chin... Should I use db rows or keep barbell rows? And I'll do 5 heavy chins every workout (or every other workout, depending on the weight...)

Hail, Thorn


If you want to maintain your chin strength, do them first in your back workout. I would do a couple of sets, then hit your rows.


why not seperate your verticle and horizontal pulling? Do one day of rows (in your case probably barbell as you obviously have a weakness there) and one day of chins/pullups


I COULD do one day of rows ,reps and one max effort chins...


I just chinned 45kgs (100lbs) yesterday (oh, and 40kgs before the 45).This happened after a a few weeks of external rotations, one of rows, and two of under eating =o) . Three weeks ago I was stuck below half with 40kg. Hmmm