T Nation

Strength for Chin-ups/Pull-ups


I'm on WS4SB and on my Rep. Upper Body Day I do the following:

A) Bodyweight dips
B) BB Skull crushers
C) Lat Pulldowns
D) DB Shoulder Press
E) BB curls
F) Abs circuit

As you'll notice, I'm doing Lat Pulldowns. The other option is Chin-ups/Pull-ups. I want to do those instead, but I'm not strong enough to do 4 sets of 8-12, as described in the program. My arms are tired after workouts A and B.

If I keep doing Lat Pulldowns will I eventually be able to do that many chin-ups? Do you have any other suggestions on how to build up my strength. I just feel as if the lat pulldowns are inferior and would rather be doing chin-ups. Maybe I just need to be more patient with the pulldowns. Anyway, what are your thoughts?


There's nothing wrong with pulldowns. Yes, you can work your way up to being able to do body weight pull-ups and chin-ups.

I weighed 230 at the time I was doing pulldowns consistently. I finally reached doing 210 for 8 reps. That's when I switched over to pull-ups. I had to switch because 1)it was the end of the stack 2) and more importantly, there was no lap bar to hold me down.


Don't limit yourself to the WS4SB template. Tweak it to fit your goals and needs.

If they're a hard movement for you, throw them in earlier so that you're fresh for them.

A)Pull ups/chins
B)BW Dips
C)skull crushers
D)DB shoulder press
F)circuit abs

Modify the program to fit your goals, don't modify your goals to fit the program.


WS4SB suggests Lat Pulldowns or Chin-ups/Pull-ups. Can you suggest any other workouts besides those two?

I'll try your suggestion and mix things up a bit. Thanks.


One of the better pieces of advice given on this forum. Well said Blongo.

  • AB


just stick with the lat pulldown...eventually, you will get strong enough to do sets of chins...

but, one thing that might help is starting off the set with chins...and then finishing the rest of sets with lat pulldown when you get too fatigued...so, lets say you can do 8 chins...you would do 8 chins and then use lat pulldown for the next 3-4 sets at 8-12 reps


Instead of pull downs try assisted chins/pull ups with bands.


I recently tried eccentric-only chins, and they helped me break a plateau. Just start with your chin above the bar, then lower yourself for 15-30 seconds. Make sure to use a weight that's challenging. These are a great variation if you can't do many reps and need a way to strengthen the lats.


I'm thinking of this:
A)BW Dips
B)Pull ups/chins
C)skull crushers

I tend to have an anal personality at times and hate deviating from instructions. However, I'll play with WS4SB some more.


How many can you do? I also can't do 8-12 pull ups so I do 4-6 for 3-4 sets. Trying to be slow on the eccentric.

I Might do 1-2 sets of lat pulldowns if I didn't get very many reps in the pull ups.


I know this is shocking, but to get better at pull-ups DO MORE PULL-UPS.

Break down the sets. Use a chair. Use more rest.

Whatever works. Eventually, by doing more pull-ups, you'll be able to do more pull-ups.


try doing pullups at every opportunity you can. do some as soon as you walk in the gym, when you walk under some scaffolding, off a low branch under a tree when walking in the park, get a pullup bar at home etc.... you get the idea. its' known as "greasing the groove". do this in addition to doing your regular program. it works. if you can do a set of 5,8 whatever 2 or 3 times a day it won't be long before you can put them in your program as it's written.


As people have said, doing pulldowns will eventually let you do chins/pull-ups, so stick with it. Ideally, if you have a training partner you could do assisted pull-ups/chins. In fact, they even have machines for assisted pull-ups and/or dips, we have one at my campus rec.

Anyways, stick with it man, you'll get there eventually. I remember as a kid I couldn't do a single one, now I could probably get 12-15 for a max out set, its still not good enough, but way better than the past.