Two Steps to a One-Arm Chin-Up

Training to do a one-arm chin-up involves a two-step process:

a) Start with a mixed grip with your hands placed shoulder-width apart as I’m demonstrating in the video below. Each session increase the distance between your hands by one inch on each side.

b) After six sessions, grab the bar with your right hand only (palm facing you) and grab your right wrist with your left hand and do chin-ups in that manner. Make sure to do an equal number of reps on both sides. Each session grab one inch lower on your forearm (i.e. move your hand closer toward your elbow). On the sixth session, attempt a one-arm chin-up.

With all these progressions, keep the reps low and do multiple sets with a slow eccentric action (e.g., 6 sets x 2-4 reps @ 5010 tempo). Use additional loading on a chin/dip belt where appropriate.

Know Your Limits

One-arm chin-ups are best reserved for young individuals who are in good shape and below 200 pounds. If you have wrinkles on your face or grey hair anywhere on your body, you can do mixed-grip chin-ups but don’t go beyond that.

The outside of the body reflects what’s happening on the inside. As you age, the skin loses integrity and a similar fate occurs to connective tissue. Your tendon attachments are not as strong as they used to be. It’s best to distribute the load over two arms when doing chin-ups rather than trying to lift your entire body weight with one arm.

For more injury prevention tips, check out my new book Invincible coming out soon!

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