THE CHIN-UP PROGRESSION LADDER

I love Chin-Ups. I don't care if this is logical: if you master one ladder, make it this one. Great Chin-Ups = Great Upper Body. Don't shy away, be persistent and master them -- whatever that means to you. 

LET'S TALK ABOUT IT...

Yes, Chin-Ups can be pretty tough. But that's OK, this ladder embraces everything this training system is all about. Master compound moves with tons of different progressions and no (OK -- minimal) equipment, and your body will have to change.

At the time of writing, this ladder goes all the way from a simple Dead Hang (yes, just like The Hanging Progression Ladder), to a full Chin Up (underhand grip) then a full Pull Up (overhand grip). Soon I may well add a few more advanced progressions too. Even if you can't imagine being able to do a Chin-Up right now, you will find loads of progressions on this ladder that you can do and that will allow you to feel good, train well, feel accomplished and build your strength.

To master this ladder your back, biceps, forearms and abs will all have some seriuous adaptation to do. To master this ladder, we train Chin Up drills on three months out of four, plus we work Hanging and Body-Rows frequently as well, and both of these have great carry over to Chin-Up strength.

As you'll see, for each different progression on this ladder, we have first the Chin Up, which uses an underhand grip, then the slightly more difficult Pull-Up, which uses an overhand grip. When you train, try to spend half your time on each grip, whether that's in any one training cycle, or whether you alternate on different training cycles. One is not better than the other, both have their uses.

PROGRESSION 1: THE DEAD HANG

CRITERIA: 

–> Overhand Grip
–> Shoulder Blades elevated (like you got no neck!)
–> Arms completely straight
–> Shoulders 180 degrees open (straight over your head, basically).
–> Body hanging straight, or feet pulled behind
–> Knees together, feet together (not crossed).

WAFFLE

I didn’t write this programme for training nuts. I didn’t write this programme for the elite. I wrote this programe for those ‘with potential’, but without a proven track record of following programmes successfully. As a result you’re often fairly flawed individuals and you don’t necessarily, you know, have access to, and feel comfortable on the Chin-Up bar. That’s cool, but to be honest…we need to change that.

This first progression, it’s not that hard. But, to pass, you need a little grip strength, decent range of motion in the shoulder (which many people lack), and just as importantly, you need to be the sort of person who is at home by the bar. If you’re scared of the Chin-Up bar, if you don’t have one…well, you simply cannot be as effective as you should be. It’s too important.

So, get a tiny bit of strength, set yourself up for habitual ease of access with a Chin-Up bar, and wahooo — it’s time for progression two.

PROGRESSION 2: CHIN UP -- TOP POSITION STATICS.

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Use an underhand grip
–> Shoulders must be down; not hunched
–> Upper chest must touch bar
–> No wobbling tolerated
–> No loss of height tolerated
–> Elbows must be down by sides
–> Erm, feet probably shouldn’t be on the floor.

Even if you can’t pull Chin-Ups yet, there’s a good chance you can hold a static position, and thus spending time just holding the top position will help you build the strength required for the real thing. So this is the next step: get really good at holding the perfect top-of-Chin-Up position. If you can't yet do this with your feet up, use a bench or something to put your feet on as you work your way to take-off.

PROGRESSION 3: PULL UP, TOP POSITIOIN STATICS

CRITERIA: 

–> Use an Overhand grip
–> Shoulders must be down; not hunched
–> Upper chest must touch bar
–> No wobbling tolerated
–> No loss of height tolerated
–> Elbows must be down by sides
–> Feet really must be off the floor.

WAFFLE

Once you’ve mastered the underhand grip, it’s time to turn your hands around and master the ‘Pull Up’ position, where we use an overhand grip. On this ladder we do this on a number of progressions: master underhand first (it’s easier), then master the same progression with an overhand grip. It’s a good way to keep you rotating your grip which encourages balanced development, plus usually it’s only about 10%-20% harder with the Pull-Up grip, so it’s a nice way to keep you moving forards all the time. Once you master the underhand, the overhand shouldn’t be that far away, and once you master a progression with an overhand grip, you should find that the next progression up should be within reach if you go back to underhand training.

PROGRESSION 4: CONTROLLED ECCENTRIC CHIN-UPS

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Start in perfect top position
–> Control all the way down to locked arms and elevated shoulder blades
–> Hold the bottom position for two seconds

–> Underhand Grip

 

If you can’t control all the way down from the top of the Pull-Up, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll be able to pull up! But training just the lowering phase is tremendous for building the strength and familiarity with the move that we need.

Don’t do more than five reps of these mind, they’re too hard on the body so save them for when you're training in the Pure Strength range.

PROGRESSION 5: CONTROLLED ECCENTRIC PULL-UPS

CRITERIA: 

–> Start in perfect top position
–> Control all the way down to locked arms and elevated shoulder blades
–> Hold the bottom position for two seconds 

–> Overhand Grip

 

WAFFLE

Once you’ve mastered the eccentric chin, turn that grip around and master the Pull-Up style. Once you’ve got that, we start cheating our way up…

PROGRESSION 6: CHIN UP, FEET CHEAT

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Underhand Grip
–> Must hit perfect top-position mechanics each rep
–> Must control all the way to Dead Hang with no dropping or falling
–> Then and only then can you use the feet to cheat
–> The arms must be working to actually pull up; don’t just jump and do all the work with the legs…or it doesn’t count

It’s a bit subjective this one. Hard to see if the arms are working hard on the way up or not, but if you over-cheat — jump too hard — you’ll just struggle more on the next bit, so, you know, whatever…

PROGRESSION 7: PULL UP, FEET CHEAT

CRITERIA: 

–> Overhand Grip
–> Must hit perfect top-position mechanics each rep
–> Must control all the way to Dead Hang with no dropping or falling
–> Then and only then can you use the feet to cheat
–> The arms must be working to actually pull up; don’t just jump and do all the work with the legs…or it doesn’t count

WAFFLE

As soon as you’ve mastered the underhand, turn that grip and master the overhand. Once you’ve got that, you must be ready to start pulling yourself up for reals...

PROGRESSION 8: SHORT RANGE CHIN-UPS, UNDERHAND

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Perfect top position mechanics must be hit every time (NOT simply getting chin over bar — that won’t do I’m afraid)
–> Shoulders must drop 10 cm or more on the way down
–> Movement must be smooth and controlled
–> Top position must be held for a half second each time

When folks only use a small range of motion on their exercises, it’s often criticised and ridiculed in the gym, and quite rightly. As a general rule of thumb in strength training, if you use more range, your muscles will get a better workout and more rounded development.

However, it’s perfectly OK to do partial-range reps, as long as it’s in a smart programme, as long as it’s part of systematically overloading yourself, and as long as it’s with a view to doing better reps soon! That’s exactly what we are doing here, working with a short range to get used to tough bodyweight moves, then adding ROM as soon as we are ready.

PROGRESSION 9: SHORT RANGE PULL-UPS

CRITERIA: 

–> Perfect top position mechanics must be hit every time (NOT simply getting chin over bar — that won’t do I’m afraid)
–> Shoulders must drop 10cm or more on the way down
–> Movement must be smooth and controlled
–> Top position must be held for a half second each time

WAFFLE

Master this and then you’ll be ready to add more range. Whilst not quite a full Chin-Up yet, when you start doing these, you should be at the point where you see you can master the full Chin-Up if you keep going.

PROGRESSION 10: MEDIUM RANGE CHIN-UPS

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Perfect top position mechanics must be hit every time (NOT simply getting chin over bar — that won’t do I’m afraid)
–> Elbows must open more than 90 degrees
–> Movement must be smooth and controlled
–> Top position must be held for a half second each time
–> No air-humping or active body-English allowed

Once you switch back to underhand and start adding range of motion, you’ll really start to look like you know what you’re doing on a Chin-Up Bar. Proper full-range dead-hang Chin-Ups are still another big jump up from these, so be patient and diligent and master these before you play around with the big time.

PROGRESSION 11: MEDIUM RANGE PULL UPS

CRITERIA: 

–> Perfect top position mechanics must be hit every time (NOT simply getting chin over bar — that won’t do I’m afraid)
–> Elbows must open more than 90 degrees
–> Movement must be smooth and controlled
–> Top position must be held for a half second each time
–> No air humping or active body-English allowed

WAFFLE

Once you get good at short range Chin Ups, it won’t take long before you’re able to go that little bit lower on these as well. For most, the bigger test comes next…

PROGRESSION 12: CHIN UP. BOTTOM HALF. FROM DEAD.

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Must start and finish move in full dead hang
–> Movement must initiate from the Lats and shoulder blades
–> Must pull up until the elbows get to 90 degrees
–> One must spend half a second at the top and bottom of each rep
–> Must control all the way down to lockout each time
–> No air humping or active body-English allowed

For the average punter, this is the biggie. We need the range of motion to be comfortable in the Dead Hang, then the scapular and Lat strength to initiate from this full position. Don’t be surprised if it takes you a while to pass this stage, for many it is well and truly the toughest hurdle to cross before you actually manage a full Chin-Up.

PROGRESSION 13: PULL UP. BOTTOM HALF. FROM DEAD.

CRITERIA: 

–> Overhand Grip
–> Must start and finish move in full dead hang
–> Movement must initiate from the Lats and shoulder blades
–> Must pull up into perfect top position mechanics
–> One must spend half a second at the top and bottom of each rep
–> Must control all the way down to lockout each time
–> No air humping or active body-English allowed

WAFFLE

Now all you need to do is put the bottom half and the top half together in a nice neat full chin up!

PROGRESSION 14: FULL CHIN-UPS

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Must start and finish move in full dead hang
–> Movement must initiate from the Lats and shoulder blades
–> Must pull up into perfect top position mechanics
–> One must spend half a second at the top and bottom of each rep
–> Must control all the way down to lockout each time
–> no air humping or active body-English allowed

If you can do real Chin-Ups, from Dead Hang, for reps, you’re better than most gym goers. Enjoy! For some people once you can do bottom half, you’ll be home and dry, these won’t be much harder. Others will have to be a little more patient and need a little more hard work before you can master these.

PROGRESSION 15: FULL PULL-UPS

CRITERIA: 

–> Overhand grip
–> Must start and finish move in full dead hang
–> Movement must initiate from the Lats and shoulder blades
–> Must pull up into perfect top position mechanics
–> One must spend half a second at the top and bottom of each rep
–> Must control all the way down to lockout each time
–> no air humping or active body-English allowed

WAFFLE

Don’t worry, I know what you’re thinking…is that it??! Well there are some more advanced progressions coming soon!

COPYRIGHT -- MORE-ATHLETIC LTD -- 2018 -- WHATEVER

MORE-ATHLETIC BODY

--> TRAIN WITH US.

--> GET BETTER RESULTS.