In this post I will lay out a progression you can use to achieve 100 lb weighted chin-ups in your training regimen. In the first post in this series I outlined why you would want to use weighted chin-ups in the first place (to build powerful arms and back) and showed some of the results I’ve achieved with them. The weighted chin-up is also a big component of my training recommendations within the Testosterone IO program.
The progression in this post is designed to work for individuals who can consistently do weighted chins with 25 lbs or more on their dip belt, for reps.
If you aren’t there yet, or maybe you can’t yet complete 10 reps with body weight, then follow the guide in the next section. Otherwise, skip ahead if you’re already getting 10 reps on chins.
Prelude: Your first 10 reps with body weight
If you can’t get one chin-up yet
Start with negatives. Lift your body up, either with a chair, a bench, or by jumping, to the fully contracted pull-up position where the bar touches your chest.
Hold for a few seconds if possible, then slowly let yourself down. These negative reps will help build your strength until you’re able to to one full chin-up rep.
Repeat as many negatives as you can for at least five sets.
This process is similar to the “one stinking pull-up” progression.
Once you can do one rep
Start each set with your one rep. Then switch to negatives until exhaustion. Do this until you can no longer get your one beginning rep. Then switch to all negatives. Try for at least five sets.
More than one rep
Do as many full reps as possible then finish with negatives. Repeat this for at least five sets.
Continue this until you meet your goal of at least ten full rep chin-ups.
Note: In my opinion, you do not need to, nor necessarily want to, do full lock-out dead hangs. The goal is aesthetic, so if locking out your shoulders, especially as you get higher in weight, puts unnecessary stress on the shoulders then don’t do it – keep the tension before pulling back up.
For those of you who are physically ready for the challenge, let’s get down to business.
100 lb+ Weighted Chin-ups
As you progress along the road to building up your weighted chins, you will naturally see muscle gain in the right areas because of the progressive strength gain. But, in my opinion, the really noticeable results come when you are at or around the 100 lb mark in terms of weight pulled.
For some people this may seem impossible, or at least very far off in the distant future. However, with the right approach, and a plan for steady, progressive strength gain, most guys can achieve this in under 6 months.
This timeline depends on current body weight (obviously it will be easier for someone who is a fit 130 lbs than someone who is 170-190). For the sake of simplicity, we are going to assume averages here.
The average 5’9 – 6′ tall male is somewhere between 160-190 pounds.
The Progression For Working Your Way Up…
This is how you do it.
Most people reading this are probably new to weighted chins (or relatively new). If you’re experienced, you’re probably already doing near or above 100 lbs.
Starting this week, incorporate weighted chins into your routine 2x a week, and do the movement when you’re fresh (ie. don’t do it at the very end of your session when you’re already fatigued). 2x a week?
Yes, even if you’re only training 3x a week.
We’re going to take advantage of newbie gains here. One session will be with standard chin up grip (palms facing you), and the other session will be hammer chin grip (palms facing one another).
Sets x reps = 3 x 5
Begin this week at the weight you are used to. Let’s just say it is 25lbs. Do both sessions at 25 lbs.
Now, move up between 2.5lbs – 5lbs.
So you’ll be doing 27.5 – 30 lbs for both sessions.
For week 3, go up another 2.5-5 lbs. So 30-32.5 lbs total.
Week 4 – Mixing things UP
With week 4, don’t do weighted chins. Spend that week doing complimentary training in their stead: like pull-ups, body weight chins, rows, and deadlifts. So this is the progression so far:
- Week 1: Weight
- Week 2: Add 2.5-5 lbs
- Week 3: Add another 2.5-5 lbs
- Week 4: Break. Do complimentary movements to recover while still building up strength in a similar pattern
Your Next 4 Weeks and Beyond
For the next four week cycle, you will do the same thing. Now you will begin the four week cycle at the weight you were pulling during week 2 in the previous cycle. The next cycle will look like this:
- Week 1: Weight from previous cycle’s Week 2
- Week 2: Add 2.5-5 lbs
- Week 3: Add another 2.5-5 lbs
- Week 4: Take a break. Do complimentary movements to recover while still building up strength in a similar motion pattern
Then you just continue this pattern until you’re up to 100 lbs or more.
The fourth week as a down week is vital to continual progress here. Weighted chins, especially as they get heavier and heavier, are pretty taxing on the nervous system and you must build in a recovery period if you want to make steady gains indefinitely.
For some people, it may be quite easy to get up to 100 lbs within the first couple weeks. Anybody with experience doing street workout, calisthenics, gymnastics, and/or just could at pulling really hard in general should be able to build up within one or two cycles of focused effort. But having this recovery/complimentary period every fourth week will allow for your body to recover.
I’ve personally found it difficult to continue making steady progress if I don’t take this 4th week as a chill week.
As of this writing: I am doing 135 lbs for reps with my 1RM
just under 180 lbs, so this progression works.
The weighted chin up is a powerful tool for building strength to do more complicated movements.
Supplements for Increasing Chin-Up Reps
Despite being in most pre-workout supplements, beta alanine dosage timing isn’t vital. Take about three grams in the morning and another three halfway through your day. Still, I like to take one dose before working out since the “tingles” it provides tells my brain it’s time for a workout.
Creatine loading is unnecessary as 3 to 5 grams will eventually saturate your muscles with peak levels of creatine just as a loading phase will. Take 3 to 5 grams of micronized creatine monohydrate after your workout. This is the most economical format, and in my opinion, the other creatine formats aren’t worth the money.