Many people can do a pullup or a chinnup with nothing but their bodyweight. While it is a good test of basic fitness, it is hardly considered a feat of strength to do so. But there are many variations that are.

First off let me preface this by saying that the typical nomenclature, is that pullups are done with the palms facing away from you. Chinnups are done with the palms facing toward you. Of course, there are also other methods like a mixed grip or parallel grip as pictured here.


Chinnup down on a house rafter

Chinnups are easier than pullups because of the way the bicep wraps around the forearm. Usually people can do about 20-30% more reps or weight in the chin. That being said, it does depend on what you are used to.

Weighted pullups are one that can be considered a feat of strength. When you can lift half your bodyweight as added weight you are really getting somewhere. It can be done with a weight vest, hanging from a belt or even your feet. While not the cleanest rep, here is a chin with 110 lbs, my personal best.

The next move is the one arm chinnup. This move requires tremendous strength as you raise yourself with just a single arm. Few people ever get to this level. Start training with holds and negatives but only after you’ve reached a chinnup with an added half-bodyweight hanging from you. The video below shows an athlete who has pretty much mastered this move. Very impressive.

There are many other pullups too. Such as Rafter Pullups which use an amazing pinch grip to support your weight. Here is one version:

And this next video, with Adam Glass shows a tougher version. When the rafters are parallel, as above, you can squeeze in with your arms which helps with the hold. By having the holds parallel you aren’t able to create this same kind of force. Included in this video are some other exercises that can be done in similar fashion.

To be able to do any of these you need a really solid base of pullup strength. For that I recommend you check out the Ultimate Guide to Pullups and Chin-ups to figure out how you can achieve your first pull-up, how to do well over 20 pull-ups and even work towards the one-arm pull-up.

The Ultimate Guide to Pullups and Chin-ups

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  1. Hey Logan! I’ve just recently signed up for your site’s newsletter…that “Strongman Manifesto” is legit! …I’ve just gotten my chin-up and pull-up reps high enough to start adding external weight, so what’s a good “rule of thumb” as to how I should incrementally increase the load overtime? (I don’t wanna “plateau” by adding it too quickly, but I do want to expedite my improvement as much as possible.) Thanks in advance for the feedback!

    1. @Robert Wynne: There are many approaches you can do. If you add five pounds at a time for example and make sure you can do the same number of reps as before you’ll make progress. Or wave the load up and down working with different weights.

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