So as some of you may know, a few weeks ago I posted a video of my chin up attempt. I have been trying to do these for months but have never been consistent enough with my training to see any progression. So I decided to video, and share, the exercises that I used to build my strength and how I progressed to finally be able to do a full chin up.

To give you an idea of how often I completed this exercises, I spent 15 minutes at the beginning of every resistance training session (roughly 5 times per week) doing specific exercises that will help me to eventually be able to complete a chin up. It is not essential to do it this often however I progressed and saw positive change very quickly, by training 2-3 times a week you will probably see results in twice the time. Training often ensured that I was consistently working and strengthening the muscles used in a chin up. Hence, reversibility didn’t occur.

Eccentric Chin Ups

I started every mini session with eccentric chin ups. I would always do them first as I found them most challenging and liked to do them when I wasn’t already fatigued from a previous exercise. Focusing on the eccentric phase of an exercise puts the muscles under more tension, hence damaging muscle fibres with the aim being to stimulate growth during the repair phase. I would do 3 sets of 5 reps of these exercises, this was a challenge for me, however reps/sets may need to be adapted to personal ability.


After this I would perform sets of either Olympic ring rows or close, supinated grip lateral pull downs.

Olympic Ring Rows

On my first session of doing these I kept my legs bent, hence reducing the amount of body weight I was pulling up during the rows. As I progressed and had completed these a few times, I was able to do them with straight legs and eventually with my feet raised (on a box) which meant the amount of body weight I was pulling on the rows was increasing. This showed me that I was already gaining strength. I would do 3 sets of 15 reps for this exercise. Again, increase/decrease reps/sets to personal ability.

Close, Supinated (underhand) Grip Lateral Pull Down

This exercise is great for beginners as the weight can be taken as low as needed and clearer progressions can be seen by the increments of weight on the machine. I used this exercise to build strength in my upper back, lats and biceps- primary muscles used when performing a chin up. I would do 5 sets of 5 reps, these would be heavy reps. If performing this rep range, you should use a suitable weight that pushes you, hence last reps should always feel tough and challenging.

It took me roughly 3 weeks to progress to a full chin up. After I could do one I would do a drop set style exercise, where I would do one full chin up, attempt chin up number two then straight away do 3 eccentric chin ups. This is creating overload whilst still pushing for another chin up. I am still doing these exercises as my next aim is to be able to do 5 chin ups in a row soon…watch this space!!