The Year To Destroy Your Chin-Up Max

by | Jan 8, 2016 | Fitness

The chinup is one of the best moves you can do for your upper body. “It strengthens your biceps, back, shoulders, and core with every rep,” says Tony Gentilcore, C.S.C.S., co-founder of Cressey Performance in Hudson, Massachusetts. “And because it’s a body-weight move, it’s a great indicator of how strong you are for your height and weight.” 

The exercise isn’t a cakewalk, though. Because of this, you’ll find a big gap between the guys who can crank out rep after rep and the ones that avoid the chinup bar like it’s a crazy ex-girlfriend. So where do you fall? Check out the numbers below to find out how many reps the average guy can do in your weight range and test yourself. The good news: If you conk out early, Gentilcore has offered up the tips and training strategies you need to improve quickly. 


64-72kgs =  8-12 chinups
73-81kgs =  7-10 chinups
82-90kgs = 3-5  chinups   
91+ kgs   = 1-3 chinups

Test Yourself 
Hang at arm’s length from a chinup bar using an underhand, shoulder-width grip. This is the starting position. Now pull your chest to the bar keeping your body straight the entire time. Bring your chest to the bar, pulling your upper arms down forcefully and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Pause, and then take 2 seconds to lower yourself back to a dead hang. Do as many as you can with proper form.
 (Watch the video below to make sure you’re perfecting the move.)

Did you perform only 1 or 2 reps? Then start with the band-assisted chinup and the negative chinup. The assisted chinup perfects your form, while the negative chinup increases your pulling strength, says Gentilcore. 

Band-Assisted Chinup: Loop the band around a chinup bar, and then pull it through the other end of the band. Cinch it tightly to the bar. Place one knee in the loop of the band, and hang at arm’s length using a shoulder-width, underhand grip. Now perform a chinup. Do 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps. 

Negative Chinup: Stand on a box or bench beneath a chinup bar. Grab the bar with a shoulder-width, underhand grip. Jump up, pulling your chest to the bar. Hold the top position for 2 seconds, and then take 6 to 10 seconds to lower yourself until your feet touch the box. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps.

Go Beyond Average 

Want to blow your chinup max out of the water? “Focus on form instead of taxing your nervous system and burning out,” says Gentilcore. 

DO THIS: Say your max chinup count is 6. Shoot for doing sets of 3 reps (half of your max chinup count) with perfect form throughout the day, says Gentilcore. (It helps if you have a pullup bar at home or can get in the gym in the morning and evening.) Shoot for 3 to 5 sets each day—one set in the morning, one at lunch, one before bed, and others when you have a few extra minutes. By the end of the day you’ll have at least doubled the amount of efficient chinups you can do each day, and after a month your original max should grow by at least 50 percent or double as the move becomes easier, says Gentilcore. Once you reach a new max, cut those reps in half and repeat the process.

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