I’ve been working towards the one arm chin-up for a number of years. It’s a humbling move, but I am happy to say I’m closer than I’ve ever been before. Coming from a background where I couldn’t even do a chin-up when I was 18, which was ten years ago, I don’t think I’m doing too bad.
I’ve tried many methods over the years working with weighted chins, archer pullups, holds, negatives, various forms of assistance, even a one arm lat pulldown.
My principle method I’ve been working involves moving the assistance arm down the working arm so that it is able to help less and less. From the wrist to forearm to bicep to shoulder. By making the progression small I’ve been making steady progress.
I also came up with a move I haven’t ever seen before demonstrated in this fashion. I call it the one arm chin lockup. It involves a lockout in the up position hence the name.
To do this you choose your main working hand. The other hand will grab the bar too and you’ll pull up. Once you get into the top position you remove the extra hand and hold just for a second or two.
From here you have two options. The easier option is to then re-grab with the free hand and lower down.
The harder option is to do a slow, controlled negative with just the working arm.
Either method can be repeated for reps.
Although holding the top position is the easiest portion of the one arm chin, I noticed it was easier to “hold it” then to “get into it”. I had worked on holds for longer and longer periods of time but I didn’t feel like this contributed towards much else.
Instead with this exercise you practice getting into the position and bringing on that peak contraction. Although it may be easy to hold, think about whenever you miss pullup reps, its almost never at the bottom or middle, but trying to get to the top position to finish the rep. In the one arm chin lockup you’re focusing your practice on that specific weak point of the exercise.
You’ll likely find one side is much stronger than the other. Even though my right side is stronger at most things this is one exercise where my left is far better.
Of course before you try this make sure you have a firm foundation in doing pullups. I would recommend being able to do at least 15 reps fairly comfortably. As with all one arm chin training be careful on overdoing this, as it could contribute to elbow inflammation.
That being said if you’re ready for it, give it a shot and report how you like it in the comments below.