Question: can you help me increase my chins?

Published: 2018-10-11
(Last updated 2023-06-15)

You bet. The person in question said she could do – and I quote – ”around one and a half”. After a few weeks she was repping out. So if that sounds like you, try the following.

Stage 1

Practice for 1-2 weeks. Everyday, throughout the day, do around 6-10 singles. Don’t change your clothes to ”workout”. Just do one rep, go do something else, an hour later or so do another rep. Just toss it in when you feel like it. It’s not training, it’s practicing. Don’t attempt two reps, just do the one each time. If you can do 3-4 reps then stick to two reps per set throughout the day.

This stage works by improving the skill of doing chins, a neural concept rather than by getting stronger by building muscle. If you feel you’re getting achy shoulders or elbows just take a day off.

Stage 2

15-2 system for 3 weeks. Now you’re probably ready to start the 15-2 system. I came up with this when training clients at a commercial gym and it has worked wonders for a lot of people. You will train chins three times per week and the layout looks like this:

(Sets x reps)

Week 1

Day 1: 15×1
Day 2: 8×2
Day 3: 8×1

Week 2

Day 1: 5×3
Day 2: 4×4
Day 3: 8×1

Week 3

Day 1: 3×5
Day 2: 8×1
Day 3: 2xRM

You want at least one day rest between day 1 and day 2 each week. Two days of rest is perfectly fine too. The first day you do 15 singles. The last day you do two sets of repetition maximum, meaning as many repetitions as you can do. Day 3 is light, it’s supposed to be like that, don’t do more. If you can only train twice one week then simply skip the light day.

Stage 3

Fighter pull-up program for 2+ weeks. Now you get back to higher frequency training. I got the following program from Pavel Tsatsouline who in turn got in from an unknown Russian author. Start with your repetition maximum (which you got from the 15-2 cycle) or a rep below. So say you got to 5 or 6 reps, start with 5.

Day 1: 5,4,3,2,1
Day 2: 5,4,3,2,2
Day 3: 5,4,3,3,2
Day 4: 5,4,4,3,2
Day 5: 5,5,4,3,2
Day 6: 6,5,4,3,2

On Sunday you rest before continuing the progression on Monday.

Day 1: 6,5,4,3,2
Day 2: 6,5,4,3,3
Day 3: 6,5,4,4,3
Day 4: 6,5,5,4,3
Day 5: 6,6,5,4,3
Day 6: 7,6,5,4,3

Study the pattern and you can apply it to any number. You can continue as long as you progress then take a few days off and test your max.

If you didn’t get to five reps with the 15-2 cycle you probably started it too early (too little practice!). If that’s the case you can simply run it again before attempting the Fighter pull-up program or you can start lower. Say you got four reps and badly want to run this cycle:

Day 1: 4,3,2,1,1
Day 2: 4,3,2,1,1
Day 3: 4,3,2,2,1
Day 4: 4,3,3,2,1
Day 5: 4,4,3,2,1
Day 6: 5,4,3,2,1

After running these cycles you should be chinning like a king or queen! If you’re looking for a weighted challenge you can try the program I wrote about in an article for StrongFirst or the follow-up How to train for for mass with chins and dips revisited.

Good luck.

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