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Adding Reps to One Arm Chins

As many of you have seen, and even done yourself, when someone signs up for my free gifts on this site I ask them to send me their most burning question. The other day I got one from someone that was stronger than me at this particular exercise, doing one arm chin-ups.

Although I’m all about leading from the front, I don’t make claims to be the strongest in the world, or the best ever. Not yet anyway 🙂 This question was on one arm chins which I haven’t done yet, though I am inching closer and closer.

One Arm Pullup

A top hold in the OAC, not a completed rep.

When you understand principles that lead to training success it doesn’t matter if you are starting out on the most basic of exercises or doing the most advanced.

The following is a copy of the email conversation I had with Jordan. Jordan’s replies are in italics while mine are in bold to help distinguish them.

Hey Logan,
I think i have a pretty advanced question for you. I am looking to increase my reps on one arm pullups. I have plateaud at around 3 reps each arm for about three months. Lately I have added weighted one arm negatives, and 100lb weighted pullups for 3 reps each set. Do you have any recommendations on how I can bust out more one arm pullup reps in a set? Extra Info: I can do over 40 pullups and over 20 muscle ups, and my surrounding muscles are proportionately strong, so i don’t understand what my problem is. I would really appreciate your help.

You’re stronger than me at this exercise so just off the top of my head I have a question. Have you worked on just increasing total volume doing singles and doubles in a given workout?

I haven’t actually focused on doing tons of sets of single or double reps of one arm pullups. I’ve done it occasionally where i can got to around 7 or 8 sets of singles after i’ve already done 2-3 sets of 3 left arm 3 right arm or 2 left an 3 right. I practice one arm pullups twice or three times a week and i normally try to do four sets per workout.

That would be my first thing to work on. More total volume of an exercise usually carries over quite well to more reps in a single set. Try to build up to 20, 30, 40, 50 reps each arm and you’d likely find you can get more than three reps. With this though you may want to lower the frequency. Three times a week could be too much with higher volume.

When you say train my single reps in volume, should I still max out at the beginning? and instead of three times a week, do you recommend once or twice?
Thanks again

Don’t max, keep it easy. Probably twice a week.

It has been about three weeks since you gave me advice on how to break my plateau, and I finally have! As of today, I am able to do 5 reps of one arm pullups with my right hand and 4 with my left! That is a 2 rep increase with my right hand and 1 rep increase for my left! Thanks to your advice about doing many sets with  one rep, I was able to bust my four month plateau in just three weeks!! I’m so grateful for your help. Also, I have been reading articles on your website almost everyday, and I find them very informative and enjoyable to read. Your a very big inspiration to me, and you’re also a great teacher, so I thought you might like to know that. I’m sure you get these types of emails very often. Thanks again!!

I know most people reading this aren’t trying to rep out one arm chins. Many people are trying to get there. Some are trying to add reps to regular pullups and chins (hint: the same method works there too). And some are striving for that first rep. If you want a lot more information then check out The Ultimate Guide to Pullups and Chin-ups.

And the main point of this article is that if you understand training principles it doesn’t really matter the exercise. You can get great results with it. That’s what I strove to do with My System in the new Strength Health Mind Power Inner Circle. Instead of specific training advice it covers the PRINCIPLES you need to know in order to be successful, like how training for volume can add to your all out strength. Also how keeping things easy can lead to more success than maxing out.

The newest issue is out as well covering Transforming Training Beliefs and the new 101 Advanced Steps to Radiant Health.

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