Chinup Progressions

Every week we get letters or questions about how to progress to a kipping pullup.  Our first suggestion is to get a chinup (actually several in a row).  Building the strength to perform 3 sets of 5 chinups in a row will help to condition your body for the highly ballistic nature of a kipping pullup.  Kipping pullups place a high demand on the musculature and connective tissues of the upper body.  In order to stay safe while doing them, it helps to have a high level of strength and flexibility.  

Not everyone has the strength to do chinups.  But EVERYONE can build up to them.  Apply the suggestions below and it is only a matter of time before you have them.  Here are some steps to bulding up to doing chinups:

 

  1. Get lighter.  I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but every pound lost is a pound you don't have to carry above the bar.  
  2. Practice 2-3 times per week on non-consecutive days.  It is best if you conduct these practice sessions before your regular workout (you don't want to be too tired to give it your all).
  3. Complete 3 sets of 5 reps each practice session. Rest precisely 60 seconds between each set.
  4. Can't even do one?  Cool, just use the progressive chinup video below.  Begin with the most advanced step in the progression you are capable of, then retrograde to easier stuff.  For example, if you can do 1 chinup only, do that chinup followed immediately by 4 eccentric pullups.  
  5. Keep meticulous track of your workouts (we suggest posting to the site) and continually/consistently apply some progressive overload to each workout.  For example, if you did 5 chinups your first set, then 3 chinups + 2 eccentrics the second set, then 1 chinup + 4 eccentrics on the third, you'd want to write all of that down.  Next workout try to add small amounts of chinups where possible while taking away from the eccentrics.  Careful here!  Adding too many reps, too soon could set you up for lack luster strength gains and possible injury.  1-4 reps increased per practice session should suffice. 
  6. Gaining the flexibility needed to do kips is as easy as practicing chinups with a full range of motion.  Those who short the ROM while training are placing their shoulders at risk of injury when they eventually progress to full kipping pullups.