Chin-ups: Two Arm vs. One Arm vs. Weighted

In Strongman Mastery by Logan Christopher3 Comments

Been reading through The Super Athletes by David P. Willoughby. It’s quite an amazing book filled with the feats of strength and endurance done by all kinds of strongmen.

As the one arm chin-up is a goal of mine, I found this section particularly interesting and thought it was worth sharing:

“By the application of certain principles of bodily efficiency, as deduced from the average or typical performances of athletes in general, it is possible to ‘predict’ with a fair degree of accuracy what a man should be able to do in one kind of effort from what he has been known actually to do in another, provided the same groups of muscles are being testing in both feats and the performer has endurance—or the ability to repeat an effort—in typical proportion to his momentary strength. Thus, we are able to say that if a man is able to chin himself 24 times with both arms (with the hands facing toward the body), he should be able to chin himself once with one arm, provided he has practiced both feats equally and is, therefore, able to adopt and apply the most advantageous ‘technique’ in each.”

“To ‘chin’ once with one arm is equivalent to chinning once with both arms while carrying extra weight equal to two-thirds of the performer’s own bodyweight. Thus, for a 150-pound man to do a one-arm chin, is equivalent to his doing a two-arm chin while carrying 100 pounds of extra weight.”

In short:

24 chin-up reps = 1 one arm chin-up

1 chin-up + 2/3rds bodyweight added = 1 one arm chin-up

That’s encouraging as it means I’m close.

Last time I tried I hit 22 chin-ups in a single set.

And this record was a while back, but I’ve done a chin with an added 115 lbs. weight.

So just a bit further to go.

However, he does mention the technique part. And I can say I have definitely spent more time practicing two arm chins than one!

But this does give multiple ways you can progress to building the strength needed for this feat.

You can focus on repping them out.

You can focus on adding weight to the exercise.

And you can focus on certain progressions specifically for the one arm chin.

I cover all three inside of The Ultimate Guide to Pullups & Chin-ups.

And I believe that all three are worth doing (not necessarily all at once!).

Even if you’re not aiming for a one arm chin-up I hope you enjoyed this article.

If you’re interested in the above book, did you know that in addition to all the other bonuses I’ve been talking about all week with the Strength Health Mind Power Inner Circle, you get credits equal to what you pay and can use for that? More details found in Bonus 5 on this page.


  1. Hey Logan! If it helps, the exercises that helped me the most with the one arm chin were strict assisted one arms for high volume using light elastic bands, to prevent myself to cheat by using more assistance than the band can provide. Also, doing isometric one arm chin-up holds at 5 different angles covers pretty much the whole range. For those, I do one hold at a time, and I never held for longer than 6 seconds because I wanted to focus on maximal contraction. So I held dumbbells in my free hand to make the holds harder. Of course I also did regular reps and weighted chins. From experience, I’d say that the weighted chin equivalency is pretty accurate, but not the reps equivalent. I could do many more reps than that before I could do a one arm chin. As for my results, by the end of last spring I got up to 7 one arm chin-ups on each side after training volume (I was building to 10-12 reps with lighter and lighter bands, starting with doubled over Theratube black, and finishing with single Theratube yellow for 8 reps by the end) with super light assistance for many months.

    Hope this helps!

  2. Took me a couple years of training weighted pull-ups to do a one arm pull-up. The repetition part probably isn’t as accurate. I would say u need to be over thirty but it’s different for everyone. People that weigh less are much better at it. I weigh 200 even and when I did 130 on weighted pull-ups I could do a one arm hang. Took me longer to be able to muscle up do to the explosiveness and technique. I actually found ur visualization techniques best for that.

  3. Bullshit. Doing 24 chins doesn’t mean you can do it one handed and it certainly doesn’t follow you can chin 67% bodyweight if you can do one one armed chin. I can do several one armed chins with added weight and am not even close to 67%

    If you can’t do a one armed chin you have no business telling others how to do it

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