Train chin-ups - Part 2 - Step-by-step training phases

Finally, learn a chin-up: with the training progression from Supz Nutrition, the chances are very good that your first chin-up will be successful. Training chin-ups correctly is an art that sooner or later everyone who does structured strength training wants to master. For women in particular, the challenge of learning chin-ups is often a long-term goal. What are the right exercises to specifically train the muscle groups involved? What repetition pattern should be used for training? How often should a new training plan be started? All these questions are answered here and nothing stands in the way of your first chin-up!


In a nutshell: How the chin-up progression works

The last article "Learning chin-ups" described how to perform a correct chin-up and which muscles are trained in the process. To get these muscles strong enough to pull up your own body weight, they should be trained in two ways: Negative chin-ups, i.e. the controlled lowering from the upper to the lower position, accustoms the nervous system to the movement and strengthens the muscle groups holistically. Parallel to this, perform isolated additional exercises of the individual muscles. Above all, the back (latissimuss dorsi muscle) and the arm flexor muscles (brachialis and brachioradialis) as well as the teres major muscle supporting the shoulder blade are most important for the shoulder-width neutral grip. This grip is also targeted for the first chin-up as it is easier to learn than an overhand grip.

As the pectoralis major, the abdominal muscles, the shoulders (deltoids) and the inner shoulder blade muscles on the back (rhomboids) also have a supporting function during chin-ups, these should also be trained in isolation.


Background information on the training programmes

In the following training plans it is assumed that the person trains 3-4x per week and does a two-person split. This is divided into a lower body and an upper body plan. The lower body and upper body should always be alternated. The abdominal muscles should be trained in isolation on the lower body day. One exercise for three sets at the end of the workout is sufficient.

Each training plan (training phase) is done for about four weeks. Optimally, the upper body plan is then trained 8 times. Although the same programme is trained for four weeks, the weights, repetitions or time in seconds for the eccentric chin-up should be increased each training session if possible. It is best to document each individual training session.

On the far left is always the respective exercise (A, B, C) and the designations - most exercises are done in alternation (superset). It is important that all parameters are taken into account. You can always tell by the letters, the respective letters always belong together. For example, exercise A1 is done alternating with A2. The pause mentioned is described in seconds and takes place after each completed set. The parameters repetitions (abbreviated rep. in the following) and sets should be self-explanatory.

Apart from the chin-up, all other exercises are performed in a fast concentric movement (1s push or pull) and a rather slow eccentric movement (3-4s release of weight). This slow controlled movement is expressed in seconds at tempo.


Training phase 1 

A1) Eccentric chin-up, neutral, shoulder width, 30 sec. release – 4 sets – 1 rep. of 30 sec. – break: 90 sec.

(If 30s are possible, use additional weight - dip belt):


A2) Dumbbell Incline bench press 35⁰ neutral – 4 sets – 8-10 rep. of 4 sec. – break: 90 sec.


B1) Seated Rowing on Cable Pull – 4 sets –  rep. = individual of 4 sec. – break: 75 sec.


B2) Dumbbell Shoulder press pronated – 4 sets –  rep. individual of 4 sec. – break: 75 sec.


C1) SZ Curl standing pronated in shoulder width – 3 sets – 10-12 rep. of 3 sec. – break: 60 sec.


C2) Dumbbell External rotation on cable pulley – 3 sets – 10-12 rep. of 3 sec. – break: 60 sec.



Training phase 2

A1) Eccentric chin-up, supinated, 3 positions paused for 5s each – 5 sets – 1-3 rep. of holding for 5 sec. – break: 120 sec.


A2) Dumbbell Flat Bench Press (neutral) – 5 sets – 6-8 rep. of 5 sec. – break: 120 sec.


B1) Dumbbell Rowing bent forward (neutral) – 3 sets – 8-10 rep. of 4 sec. – break: 90 sec.


B2) Dumbbell Shoulder press (neutral standing) – 3 sets – 8-10 rep. of 4 sec. – break: 90 sec.


C1) Dumbbell Incline bench curl 45⁰ (neutral) – 3 sets – 8-10 rep. of 3 sec. – break: 75 sec.


C2) Dumbbell Pull-over – 3 sets – 8-10 rep. of 3 sec. – break: 75 sec.


Training phase 3

A1) Eccentric chin-up, neutral shoulder width (4 sec. eccentric) – 4 sets – 4-7 rep. of 3 sec. – break: 90 sec.

 (climb back up for each repetition)


A2) Barbell Bench Press 55° – 4 sets – 7-9 rep. of 3 sec. – break: 90 sec.


B1) Rowing to the neck with rope – 4 sets – 9-11 rep. of 4 sec. – break: 75 sec.


B2) Dumbbell Shoulder press seated neutral – 4 sets – 9-11 rep. of 4 sec. – break: 75 sec.


C) Dumbbell Zottmann Curls (standing upright) – 4 sets – 10-12 rep. of 3 sec. – break: 75 sec.



Training phase 4

A1) Eccentric chin-up, neutral shoulder-width (30 sec. release with additional weight) – 6 sets – 1 rep. of 30 sec. – break: 120 sec.

(Bei 10-15 % Zusatzgewicht in Relation zum Körpergewicht kann der erste Versuch des Hochziehens gestartet werden, ggf. mit etwas Hilfe von jemandem)


A2) Dumbbell Flat Bench Press Neutral– 6 sets – 4-6 rep. of 4 sec. – break: 120 sec.


B1) SZ Pull-over High Pulley Cable – 3 sets – 6-8 rep. of 4 sec. – break: 75 sec.


B2) Barbell Bench press 55⁰ – 3 sets – 6-8 rep. of 4 sec. – break: 75 sec.


C) SZ Scott Curl supiniert – 2-3 sets – 6-8 rep. of 3 sec. – break: 75 sec.


It is very individual how quickly you can do your first chin-up when exercising. For women in particular, it can sometimes take up to a year. Some, however, manage it after only three months. Success depends on genetics, anatomical conditions (short arms are an advantage), internal bite and also body fat percentage. Sometimes it is also muscular imbalances that limit you. If you try everything for too long and don't get any further, you should see a professional coach and get individual training on site or online:


Good luck with your first chin-up!


Ines Schulz
Ines Maria Schulz, geboren am 01.12.1992 in Basel, Schweiz hat auch dort den Master Of Education in Biologie und WAH abgeschlossen, womit sie den Grundstein für das Verständnis von Physiologie und Anatomie sowie Ernährungslehre gesetzt hat. Zudem ist sie ausgebildete Sportlehrerin für die Grundschule. Seit zwei Jahren ist sie Coach bei MTM Personal Training, dem erfolgreichsten Personal Training Studio in Berlin. Dort unterstützt sie täglich Kunden, die ihr maximales Potential bezüglich mentaler und physischer Gesundheit und ihrer Leistungsfähigkeit ausschöpfen möchten. In Kooperation mit Ärzten wie Dr. Dominik Nischwitz und einem Labor für Darmgesundheit sowie dem ständigen Austausch im Team kann sie ihre Kunden optimal über Training, Ernährung, Mikronährstoffe und Lifestyle beraten. Für MTM hat sie bereits ein Frühstücksbuch und einen grossen Teil eines Lifestyle Booklets verfasst. Zudem schreibt sie wöchentlich den Newsletter, in dem Ernährungstipps und von ihr kreierte Rezepte veröffentlicht werden. Ines hat bei verschiedensten erfolgreichen Coaches und Fachpersonen Seminare und Zertifikate absolviert und erweitert stetig ihre Kompetenz. Für Supz Nutrition ist die junge Trainerin seit Januar 2019 mit dem Verfassen von Blogartikeln aktiv.

The fields marked with * are required.