• Eric Humes

💥 Improve Your Chin-Up 💥

At Lift-STL we believe variety is a major factor in the long-term health and success of our clients. Variety helps us avoid physiological and psychological stagnation caused by over-emphasizing specialization. That being said, we have to have a base set of exercises that we continually aim to improve. If we constantly change the exercises that we are trying to enhance, we will be making half-hearted attempts at increasing performance in specific exercises.

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The CHIN-UP is a mainstay in our programs at Lift. It is basically the “squat for the upper body”. We know that when a client is improving their Chin-Up performance, they are most definitely accelerating their strength and body composition. In order to avoid over-emphasizing specialization, we employ a number of methods to incorporate variety into strength training programs, while continually aiming to improve chin-up performance. Below are four methods to improve your chin-up!

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1️⃣ Raise Your Relative Strength

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Your relative strength is the amount of weight you can lift compared to your bodyweight. The best way to do this in the Chin-Up is to add additional load with a weight belt or putting a DB between your feet. If you want to improve your efficiency in any exercise, improve your 1 RM. Think about it, do I have a better chance to do more bench press reps at 225 lbs if my 1RM is 240 lbs or 280 lbs? I hope you say the latter.

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The loading parameters required to improve this form of strength are as follows:

a. High intensity (85-100% 1RM)

b. Low reps (1-5)

c. Medium to high sets (4+)

d. Explosive concentric actions (i.e., with high loads the actual velocity may be slow, but the intent should always be fast)

e. Longer rest intervals (3-5 minutes)

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The video shows client Bill Boldt testing his 1 RM with 100 lbs attached around his waist. He did not complete the rep, but was successful with 90 lbs around his waist the previous set. We set the goal to achieve the chin-up with 100 lbs around his waist (Pre Corona), which we know will make his chin-ups more efficient when he returns to training for higher reps.

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2️⃣ Escalating Density Training

Escalating density training (also known as EDT) was popularized by Charles Staley. In this form of training, instead of trying to complete a certain numbers of reps in a row, the goal is to complete a greater number of reps in a predetermined amount of time. For example, a 4 week cycle may look like this:

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Week 1: 32 reps of bodyweight chin-ups in 10 minutes

Week 2: 38 reps of bodyweight chin-ups in 10 minutes

Week 3: 43 reps of bodyweight chin-ups in 10 minutes

Week 4: 45 reps of bodyweight chin-ups in 10 minutes

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In the video you will see Coach Alex Waggs performing EDT with both Chin-Ups and Ring Dips. Alex set the timer for 20 minutes and started with 5 reps on each exercise. Alex went back and forth until the 20 minutes ended, keeping track of his total the whole time. He will aim to beat his total number of chins and dips next week when he repeats the workout 💪

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3️⃣ Cluster Sets

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Cluster sets are a beautiful way to add time under tension to an exercise without sacrificing load. In fact, when done correctly, you will be able to use heavier loads than normal for a given rep range. 💪

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In the video you will see client Kevin Schnepp executing a 3/1/1/1 Cluster set on a supinated chin up (the video is sped up 1.5x). Execution on paper looks like this:

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3 Reps

Rest 15 sec.

1 Rep

Rest 15 sec.

1 Rep

Rest 15 sec.

1 Rep

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Had Kevin went for 6 straight reps with this weight attached to his waist, he would have most likely ended at 4-5 reps. By clustering the sets with small rest breaks, we are able to squeeze out the full 6 reps. Also, we were able to repeat this process for the 2 sets prior to this one. Adding a ton of volume to the workout with greater loads had we not used clustersets! 🔥

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4️⃣ Eccentrics

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Eccentric contractions are an excellent way to add volume to your program. Humans can produce up to 140-150% strength eccentrically compared to their concentric strength. Let’s take advantage of that by adding eccentric reps to your training. One of my favorite methods is to add a 30 second eccentric rep to the final rep of the Chin Up workout. From experience, we have found that if a client can do a 30 second negative on a chin-up, then they will be able to add at least 1-2 Chins to their next workout. Below is an example from Client Lindsey Rosenthal’s recent workout.

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A2) Chin-Up, 4 sets x 6-8 reps

Set 1= 8 Reps

Set 2= 6 Reps

Set 3= 5 Reps

Set 4= 4 Reps + 30 Second Eccentric on Final Rep

(See video for Example.)

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The next time she completes the workout the progress will most likely look like this:

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Set 1= 8 Reps

Set 2= 7 Reps

Set 3= 6 Reps

Set 4= 5 reps + 30 Second Eccentric on Final Rep


💥Quick Math shows that she would improve by 3 reps from the previous workout. This is a 13% increase, which is a substantial gain in one week.💥

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Put one of these practices in place and let us know how it goes! Don’t be afraid to tag us with your videos @lift_STL on Instagram!

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Stay strong!

Lift-STL


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