T Nation

Working On Bodyweight Dips and Chins


#1

First a little background. I'm home from college for the summer and I've three main goals: bring up my quads, triceps, and lats. A little extra strength and size for my elbow flexors isn't a primary goal, but it's always nice and would go along with what I'm trying to do.

Anyway, I started hitting the gym seriously between 1.5 and 2 years ago after a lifetime of being sedentary, save for the year of track I did in high school, so I'm still not that strong and I'm still carrying around some extra weight (currently ~210 lb). I'm doing 5/3/1 right now and the maxes I'm working off are 285 for my deadlift, 145 for my front squat, 140 for my bench, and 120 for my military press. Needless to say that while my posterior chain is up to snuff, pretty much everything else needs work. My triceps are what's really holding me back in my pressing (my sticking point is usually between halfway and lockout), and my quads in squatting (just look at the disparity between my deadlift and front squat).

On my squat days I'm doing the standard 5/3/1 for front squats, 5 more sets of 10 for front squats, single leg deadlifts, and split squats. The single leg deadlifts are both for building my hamstring strength and balance on one leg, something that's keeping me from doing lunges or Bulgarians. The split squats are to build my quads, adductors, balance, and serve as the first step toward doing other unilateral leg exercises with good form.

On bench days I'm doing medium grip benching for 5/3/1, close grip benching for 4x8 (toying with the idea of changing it to 5x10), and Kroc rows.

My military press day is currently a bit of a mess. After 5/3/1, I'm doing 5x10 more presses supersetted with lat pulldowns (for 135). I'm still trying to come up with something next, but I currently have bench dips supersetted with negative chins. The problem is that I can currently only do about 5 bench dips per set and and I have a hard time extending the negatives past 5 seconds.

What changes to my current program would you recommend to help me get toward my goal of being able to do unassisted dips and chins?


#2

Dawg, your MP is relatively strong compared to your bench. I may not be the ideal candidate for this but my bench is 275 while my MP estimated 1rm is 168. That's a hundred pound difference. Maybe your form is perfect, but that just struck me as odd.

F Squat 5/3/1
5x10 FS
5x10 Single leg DL
5x10 Split Squats

Bench 5/3/1
4x8 CGBP
Kroc Rows

DL 5/3/1
???

MP 5/3/1
5x10 Presses
ss w/ 5x10 Lat Pull Downs
Bench Dips
ss w/ chin negatives

I'd switch the order of chin negatives and lat pull downs. There's probably a reason you can't improve your chin negatives significantly AFTER lat pull downs. So put the negatives first. An assisted pull-up/dip machine would work wonders for you I think.

To improve your dips and chins, you just weigh too much for your muscles. So, you can cut your weight down and/or get those muscles stronger. Push-Ups, bench dips, and the other pressing stuff you're currently doing are going to help. Chin negatives and lat pull downs don't transfer perfectly, but they'll help you get to chins eventually.


#3

OP,

First of all I think I almost had a seizure from your avatar.

Secondly, what assistance exercise template are you doing for your 5/3/1? For starting out like you are I would recommend the Boring But Bug (BBB) assistance exercises.

Also OP there was an article on the main page specifically talking about getting good at pull ups. Read that and start trying to incorperate those techniques into your routine.

http://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_article_issue/issue_626#pull-up-strength

.greg.


#4

That's because I started doing MPs before benching. I know it's weird, but I wasn't that caught up in building chesticles at the point I was doing that. Or getting balance in my lifting schedule.

[/quote]I'd switch the order of chin negatives and lat pull downs. There's probably a reason you can't improve your chin negatives significantly AFTER lat pull downs. So put the negatives first. An assisted pull-up/dip machine would work wonders for you I think.

To improve your dips and chins, you just weigh too much for your muscles. So, you can cut your weight down and/or get those muscles stronger. Push-Ups, bench dips, and the other pressing stuff you're currently doing are going to help. Chin negatives and lat pull downs don't transfer perfectly, but they'll help you get to chins eventually.[/quote]

Hmm, I guess I could treat the chin-up negs as more of a primary exercise and use the lat-pulldown as an accessory. There aren't any assisted pull-up/dip machines at the gym I'm going to now, so that's not in the cards.

I do have some resistance bands I got from EFS a while ago (light and average) that I could use to that end. I've tried using the light band for assisted dips (three sets to failure), but I never seemed to make any progress with it so I just scrapped that and looked for something else for my triceps.

I suppose I could choke one of the bands around the chinning bar and use that for assisted chins, or assisted negatives starting out if needed.

I've read all the articles on here about pull-ups and how to be able to do one if you're unable to. Poliquin, Green, Thibs, etc. From what I've gleaned from the articles, doing negatives is the best way to go starting out.

I'm not using any one assistance template for every day, selecting which assistance template to use based upon what I feel would be the most beneficial.

I'm doing BBB for my bench (only with close grips instead to help bring up my triceps), a cross between periodization bible and BBB for my squat, triumvirate for deadlift (deadlift, goodmorning, leg raises), and...well...the mess that is my military press day was originally triumvirate but I changed it to BBB with two bodyweight exercises to help me get closer to doing chins and dips.

EDIT: Bah on T-Nation's HTML tags


#5

Me too. I had to cover it with my hand!


#6

Add some Tris isolation work like pressdowns or Tate presses to the end of your bench day and preferably also to military day


#7

Alright, I've made some more modifications to my program and tried to adhere a bit more closely to the assistance templates. I'm doing triumvirate for bench, BBB for front squat, periodization bible for deadlift, and my military press day is still a bit of a mess, but oh well. I'm also adding some cardio on my off days (jogging, sandbag carries, sandbag complexes, jump rope, hammer time, or whatever else I feel like doing) in addition to the steady state cardio I do at the end of each session in the gym, but still keeping it relatively light.

Bench 5/3/1
4x20 Kroc rows
4x8 CGBP

Front squat 5/3/1
5x10 front squats
4x8 single leg RDLs

Military press 5/3/1
5x10 military presses
5 chin negatives
4xf bench dips
4x8 lat pull-downs

Deadlift 5/3/1
4x8 split squats
4x10 goodmornings
4xf leg raises

I'm still not sure if I should incorporate bands in my chin negatives, do band assisted chins, or have both (3 sets of negs and 1 set of band assisted chins). Any suggestions?


#8

this is along the lines of what im doing. If you aren't strong enough to do body weight dips and chins, negatives are supposed to help. Yeah, bands to assist are helpful as well, though to be honest, I just did heavy lat pulldowns until i was strong enough to do chins.

That aside, post later on your 5/3/1 experience, I just started - only into my second week of 1st cycle, and I'm curious to see your progress.


#9

Does anyone have any advice regarding how many reps to shoot for with the assisted dips and chins? In the past I've just done 3 to 4 sets to failure, but as I mentioned before I didn't really see much progress with that.


#10

The easiest way I have found is just set a rep goal for the workout/week. Say you set it at 50 reps per workout, two times per week. On the days you are doing Dips/Chins try to get 50 reps. If this takes you 10 sets so what... just focus on the rep number. Once your last set is 5+ good reps then lower the assistance weight until you are doing full bodyweight ones.

This worked really well for me even though starting out my sets went 6,5,5,4,4,4,4,3,2,3,3,3,4. In order to reduce time I usually did them during the rest periods of another assistance exercise. I chose 50 reps twice a week but you can do fewer although I wouldn't go below 25. After 4 weeks I pretty much doubled how many reps I could do per set and am about to start adding weight with a dip belt.