The Quest for the One-Armed Chin-Up Begins

Looking forward to it.


Recently I decided to embark on the serious - and quite possibly lengthy - journey to achieving a full-range one-armed chin-up. If you've ever grabbed the bar with one arm you'll understand just how long a quest that can be. They're not exactly easy things.

Bdckr, who successfully embarked on this same quest some time ago, offered the following advice :

Offset chins with weight helped the most. Instead of using a towel, I used a rope tied to the bar, with knots tied off starting at 18" below the bar, and every 6" after. The rope helped me get a better feel for the kind of rotation that happens using only one arm, while the extra weight helped develop the pulling strength. Tying knots made it easier to measure progress i.e. 1st knot, 2nd knot, etc.(like fist lengths on a towel in the Dragondoor article). Once I got to 4 reps on the 4th knot, I started again at the 1st knot with extra weight.

Having a weight vest (instead of weight hanging off a belt) was useful, since I could do regular and offset chins (the concentric portion) as fast as possible without worrying about the weight banging around.

Grippers and one arm dead hangs (with or without extra weight) were good. Nothing worse than feeling like you're slipping off the bar.

The workout structure was chins twice a week: one higher volume weighted 2 arm chin workout, and one low volume higher intensity 1 arm training.

This fits in well with other things I've heard and read over the past couple of years, and the notion of a bi-weekly chin-up session definitely appeals. Very much looking forward to it.

The exercises

I'll hold off on creating a formal routine until I've had a chance to test out a few of the exercises. These include fun things like one-arm dead hangs, pulley/rope/finger assisted chin-ups and a bit of kettlebell military pressing. Should be good.

Further reading

A couple of articles on the one-armed chin-up are definitely worth a solid read :

The One-Arm Chinning Guide
Jack Arnow and Alexander Lechner

This is a superb article, and a must-read for anyone considering the one-armed chin. Whilst there's obviously a great deal of strength involved in the exercise, the one-armed chin-up also comprises a good deal of technique. This article goes into detail on precisely that.

The One Arm Chin-up/Pull-up
Jim Bathurst

If you haven't ventured over to the Beast Skills site before, you're in for a treat. Quite simply, Jim knows his stuff. Brilliant.


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Scott Andrew Bird

Scott Andrew Bird is a writer, photographer and a guy who just loves this stuff. He's been at home in front of a computer for more years than he cares to remember (OK, 34) and is now making amends for years of many mistakes noted in the De-constructing Computer Guy articles (part 2) on T-Nation.

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