Doing chin-ups past 60?

In Bodyweight Mastery by Logan Christopher2 Comments

Davy asks:

“My question is about age. It is not something you ever refer to but I have read by older retired bodybuilders, etc. that after 60 y/o, you should never do chin ups or movements that put so much strain on the joints. I’m in my 60’s and can still rep out on such things but have been very reluctant to do so anymore after reading about the problems most guys incur from doing so.
Should we alter the power moves or should we ignore age and just continue doing things as long as possible till we can’t do so anymore? For instance, bending metal was easy when younger. I could never do so now due to my hands being much more tender in all the joints, tendons and ligaments so I never do that anymore as I would suffer for it hours and days later. Even chin ups make me feel it in my hands but not as bad.”

A question similar to yesterday regarding lifting weights past 60. In fact, I can just about copy and paste some of my answer to this one!

Is there a hard and fast rule about not doing chin-ups past 60? Hardly. Can it be harmful? Of course. But that is true at any age. You certainly have to take into consideration and wear and tear of your bones, joints, past injuries, etc.

For some people skipping the chin ups may be best. For others, continuing this move will work fine.

Regarding bending metal, I think you can look to some of the greats regarding this.

The Mighty Atom bent metal right up until his passing pretty much. His protégé, Slim the Hammerman, is still lifting hammers that would put you and I to shame in his 80’s.

The heart of your question is this? “Should we alter the power moves or should we ignore age and just continue doing things as long as possible till we can’t do so anymore? “

What I see in this question is a not-so-helpful frame of mind.

Ignoring age and doing things until you can’t, seems to be a recipe for hurting yourself. No matter your age this isn’t something to strive for.

That’s why I’m a big proponent of listening to your body as I teach in Beyond Biofeedback, which is on sale for half price right now. 

If it is not a problem for your body, the feedback is good, then doing more is perfectly fine.

If it is a problem this might mean altering the moves. If your tendons are particularly stressed in a not so good way from a move, then avoiding it is likely the best bet.

(For some, simply switching up grip is enough to change the strain. Pullup grip vs. chin-up grip vs. neutral grip vs. on rings that allow free rotation can change the impact on the hands, elbows and shoulders significantly.)

And because functionality is better to have than to lack, this can mean doing related things so that you regain the ability to handle it too.

It depends on the person, meaning all kinds of details involved, not some line-in-the-sand age.


  1. If your headline is about doing chinups, why is the photo showing a guy about to do a pullup? They’re two different things (pullups are much harder and more dangerous, as I know from painful experience).

    1. My assistant chose the photos and was not clear on the difference at the time. Agreed that they are a bit harder but I would say only potentially more dangerous if you’re not listening to your body.

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