Now that we’ve spent some time on technique and correctives for the overhead pull, we can now dive into some different approaches to training this movement successfully. As you probably know, that just trying to increase your reps will only work for a while and will most likely taper off. So instead of just mindlessly trying to add reps or load in, this post will show you how to use various approaches to earn this movement, increase reps, weight lifted and so on. Try them out for an a few weeks and see which one or combo produces the best results for you.

The first variable that we should talk about is sets. You see just doing everything for 3 x 10 May not work in you getting this move down, especially if it is in the upper levels of your strength. If that is the case and it is a more difficult move for you, you will want to do lower reps and take a longer rest in between sets. Now, if a long rest makes you feel guilty or if you don’t have a lot of time, you can do super sets. Just leave your grip and pulling muscles out of it. So you can do core work and or a lower body push that is lighter. If your goals is to do pull-ups you will need to focus on that. My recommendation is to start off with 3 to 4 sets of 5 reps or lower and wave your reps at times. (Do more sets of less reps)



This variable is going to be important for training longevity and to bridge the gap between progressions. It however should be increased slowly. Some ways that you can do that are clustering, escalating density adding reps in and so on. One method that I like to use is ladders and to add a rep on in at various spots for example if I am doing a ladder of 1,2,3 and want to add in a rep, I cab put it in at 1 or at 2 of my ladder. I will do this in order make sure my rep are quality ones on all of the rungs if the ladder.


Learning to create greater tension on your chin is another way to train and to improve your movement and technique as you train. Learning how to create tension will automatically make you stronger and help you better keep your form as you train.


How many weeks will you train without progressing or adding in some wise variety as to not over train. Will you switch your grip? Use rings?  Do less reps and more sets? Do more reps and less sets? Have a plan so that you know you will get results from your program over the long haul and better avoid injury as you do!


How often will you do chins? Will you choose to grease the groove or do two sessions a week for a while? Frequency is another variable you can do to get results. So use it wisely!

Slow and controlled:

Another simple way of progressing with the amount of volume and difficulty is to change the tempo and go slower with pauses on the top or bottom of the move.


Along with that approach there is doing the move more explosively to make gains. Please be aware that when I talk about explosive, it is not a jerky move. But rather a controlled move with tension throughout as explosively as possible.

Use various moves same but different:

Training the same movement pattern over and over again without variation is not a good thing and may lead to breakdown and overuse. However, not doing a move without repetition will lead to de-conditioning and most likely will not create progress. So instead you will want to use the same but different principle and change your grip, use rings and so on in order to make sure that you are on the gain train and not overdoing it!

Rest range:

Lastly and maybe the most important and often neglected factor is the rest interval or period between sets and rungs of a ladder. Many times people misguidedly rush through their rest period to get stronger and to try to turn what is an intense move into a conditioning exercise. This usually leads to getting weaker on each set (unless it has become an easier move.) instead of recovering and returning to baseline and or possibly getting stronger as they go.

So if chin-ups are a difficult exercise for you and you want to build strength, rest anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes in between sets and keep your reps and sets on the lower side. If you do, you will progress quicker in your strength development and most likely have better quality movement which is necessary to progress.

Now if your progression has gotten easier, then you could take some time off your rest period to progress. But not too much, (30 seconds to 1 minute) if you do you most likely will not be able to maintain movement integrity as you work out and probably not progress any further. Remember the S.A.I.D principle, we adapt to what we do and not what we try to do!

Take your time to plan out your program and utilize these points to improve your chin-ups and earn your first one as you train.

Try out these points one or two at a time for a month to 6 weeks and develop better strength and movement as you train for example: increase or decrease your rest as needed and focus on creating greater tension, using the drills that were given in the former posts. Then as the cycle ends, you can utilize a more frequent approach and a slower tempo. Just keeping working these concepts and build your strength, then I will see you at the bar! The chin-up bar that is!

See you next week for the final post in this series!


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