One Arm Pull-ups and One Arm Chin-ups

Several years ago, a client of mine asked me if I’d ever seen anyone do a one arm pull-up. I stood for a moment in silent contemplation, then lifted one hand, wrapped it around my opposite wrist and said, “ya mean like this?”

“No,” he said, “without the other hand assisting at all.”

I told him I hadn’t, adding that I didn’t think such a thing was even possible – boy was I wrong!

I’ll never forget the first time I saw someone do a one arm pull-up. It was a game-changer and now I’m a believer!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S22n8oqcDSY

Pull-up or Chin-up
If you want to get technical about it, a pull-up is done with a pronated (overhand) grip, while a chin-up implies a supinated (underhand) grip. A lot of people find that the pull-up is a more difficult exercise – this tends to be especially true for beginners.

When you do a one arm pull-up, however, there’s a certain amount of unavoidable rotation. This is why many of the people who can perform this feat on a bar will wind up pulling towards their opposite shoulder. When a one arm pull-up is performed on gymnastic rings, the ring will simply rotate to account for this.

For me, the disparity between overhand and underhand grips seems negligible, though I’ve done so many reps of different kinds of pull-ups over years that I may have just evened it out. Besides, when someone is strong enough to pull their chin over the bar with just one arm, they’ve earned my respect; belly-aching over their hand position seems pointless.

Training for a One Arm Pull-up
Only once you can perform at least 15 consecutive dead hang pull-ups should you even consider training for this feat. Tendinitis is a bitch, so back off if you start to get pain in or around your elbows.

The following methods have helped me on my quest for the one arm pull-up, but keep in mind that these are not the only ways to train towards this feat. There are many paths that lead to the same destination–feel free to be creative!

One Arm Flex Hangs
Just like learning to do a standard pull-up, performing a flex hang (holding your body at the top of a pull-up position) with one arm is the first step towards doing a one arm pull-up. Pull yourself up using both arms, then try to stay up while you take one hand away. Squeeze your whole body tight while keeping your legs tucked in close when you’re starting out. With practice, eventually you be able to try it with your legs extended.

One Arm Negatives
The idea here is to keep your body tight and controlled while slowly lowering yourself down from a one arm flex hang. Be prepared that the first time you try to do a one arm negative you will drop very quickly. When starting out, don’t even think of it as a negative, think of it as just trying to keep yourself up. Gravity takes care of the rest. Eventually, try working up to the point where you can make a one arm negative last for ten seconds or longer.

Archer Pull-ups
Archer pull-ups are a great exercise regardless of if you want to work towards a one arm pull-up or not. When performing the archer pull-up as practice for the one arm pull-up, try to do as much of the work as possible with the arm closer to you. Think of your extended arm simply as a means of giving your pulling arm assistance, so use it as little as possible – eventually you won’t need it at all. (You can also spot yourself with your secondary arm by draping a towel over the bar and holding it or grabbing the pull-up bar frame.)

The One Arm Australian Pull-up
This is a nice precursor to the OAP for the same reason that Australian pull-ups can be a gateway to pull-ups – your feet are on the ground! When attempting a one arm Australian pull-up, concentrate on engaging your abs and your back muscles–don’t just focus on using your bicep strength. Remember that when you do a one arm Australian, it’s natural for your body to roll a little bit in the direction of your pulling arm.

Hard Core
Just like a one arm push-up or a pistol squat, core strength plays a huge role in one arm pull-ups and chin-ups. Think about keeping your entire body tight and controlled during your one arm pull-up training. If your core is weak, you may need to do some remedial ab exercises.

Pull-up or Shut up
Talk is cheap. The one arm pull-up is an elusive move that demands patience, consistency, and dedication. You’re never gonna get one without lots of practice. The question you need to ask yourself is this: How bad do you want it?


For more information about one arm pull-ups, check out my book, Raising The Bar: The Definitive Guide to Pull-up Bar Calisthenics.

83 thoughts on “One Arm Pull-ups and One Arm Chin-ups

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  • By Paul Kerr - Reply

    I have never done a one armed pull/chin up. I’m 48 but I believe I can and I will – even if just the one. Super information here about how to make it happen. I’ll do at least on my 49th and send you the proof Al :)

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      That kind of thinking will take you places, Paul – You can do it!

      Just remember to be patient though, this shit is harder than it looks!

  • By Mattman - Reply

    I can get up to about my bicep being 90 degrees.
    I can do 5 on each arm this way. I know I need to get that last pull to get my head over the bar but it’s not that important for me as of yet.

    Funny story, I found out I could do one arm pullups/chin ups by accident lol. Was just messing around and found I could do them, hadn’t ever trained for them lol.

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      That is amazing that you got your first one so effortlessly – you are naturally gifted! It took me a long time to get my first OAP and that was after years of already doing regular pull-ups. If you practiced specifically for this feat, you could probably get really good at it, Matt!

      • By Mattman - Reply

        Thanks =)

        I think I will practice the grease the groove method for a while. I work in a commercial gym now (Fitness First) as a PT, so whenever I pass the pullup bar I think I’ll crack out a few one arm pullup negatives =)

        • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

          Sounds like a good plan, Matt! That’s exactly how I first learned this move.

          Congrats on the job!

  • By Elizabeth Harcourt - Reply

    hey, al. cool entry. know any chicks who can do a one-arm? :)

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      Ha – not yet! Maybe this post will bring one out of the woodwork.

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      Ha – not yet! Maybe this post will bring one out of the woodwork.

  • By Belatrix - Reply

    That’s the holy grail of body weight exercises for me. I have only recently started working on pull ups. I bought a pull-up bar for Christmas and I’m up to 4 dead hang pull ups. I can do 5 chin-ups (they seem easier) and 7 in a neutral grip. Al, the fact that it took you 4 years of training to get the 1-armed pull-up gives me hope! I hope that one day, I will be the “chick who can do a one-arm”. Even if it takes me 4 years to get there. :)

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      Hey Belatrix – thanks for your comment! For the record, it was about 10 months of training before I got my first (crappy) one arm pullup. It’s taken 4 years to get to where I am now (a lil less crappy, but still a ways to go). It sounds like you’re already pretty strong and you’ve got the right attitude – keep training hard!

  • By Lipschitz - Reply

    Great website, Al. I’m working backwards through the pages and getting a ton of useful information!

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      Thanks! There’s enough content here on the blog to keep you busy for a while and you can always order my book if you want more!

  • By Todd Dosenberry - Reply

    This is awesome. I just did 12 straight pull-ups yesterday. I had never done that before. I won’t start yet but it seems like I can start training for the one armer within a couple of months. I can’t wait!

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      Thanks, Todd! Congrats on your groundbreaking set of pull-ups yesterday – keep training hard!

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  • By Morten - Reply

    Love this post Al. The OAC has been my obsession for almost 2 yrs. It is indeed a long and sometimes painfull road. I am now able to do a crappy OAC (as you put it ;)), but I have lots of work still to do, in order to perfect it. To the others, my advice is to take time, stop when elbow hurts and lay off for some time. Especially negatives are tuff on the elbows. Only do them if you feel strong enough. And only a few or maybe only one rep a time. And if you are an old dude, like me (38), the road is a little more bumpy ;). Thanks again for a great blog Al.

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      Thanks Morten – it’s good to hear from someone else who knows firsthand how harrowing it is to train for this feat! Keep it up!

  • By Diazp Br - Reply

    wow man, talk about impressive strength!
    this one arm chin ups, together with the one arm handstand pushup seem to me as the pinnacles of human strength!!
    I was just wondering if youve read this book called convict conditioning (http://www.dragondoor.com/shop-by-department/books/b41/) I personally think its a great resource for bodyweight training, you should check it
    Great work coach Al!! he he

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      Thanks! Yes I am familiar with CC. As a matter of fact author Paul Wade even gives me a shout out in this article: http://oldtimelifting.com/articles/a-dirty-dozen/

      Btw expect a post on handstand push-ups soon!

      • By Diazp Br - Reply

        Ö seems youre famous uh? he he
        ill be waiting for that post, inspirational articles!
        now its been more than a year since you started parkour, im new at it so it seems ill take you as inspiration for that too haha
        greetings from mexico!

  • By Adam - Reply

    One arm is bloody difficulty. I can do ~15 dead hangs and 20+ regular pulls, but no one arms. I’m starting to really focus on heavy pullups (Getting up to +30%BW for 3 reps), but still quite far from the one armie. I know it takes a lot of training and hard work to get it. I’m wondering what was the single exercise of the one listed above that you trained the most. Or do you really have to do a bit of all of these exercises to make the jump?

    Really good article, as usual Al. Thanks!

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      Thanks, Adam! I’d say the one arm flex hangs and negatives are the most essential moves to practice while working towards a one arm pull-up. Once you can do a 10 second negative, you should be able to get at least a halfway decent OAP. Be patient and stay the course!

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  • By hozzy - Reply

    i did wrist assist pullup…then did 1 rep through out the day, everyday and in few weeks  got the  assisting arm down to elbow.now i can do negatives. one arm grabbing wrist helps alot n mov down as u get stronger.

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      Sounds like you are making good progress – keep at it!

  • By Lage - Reply

    I’ve finally achieved the feat.  Have been able to pull off one rep for each arm, about 4 times now (separate occasions).  I specifically trained for it for about 2 months starting with the “towel grip” method, and finally using a pulley (I used my Xtreme gymnast ring as a pulley) to pull on for assistance.  When I got down from 35# to 25# on the pulley, I attempted the one arm chin and got 1.5 reps with the left, and 1 rep with the right!  Since then I started adding negatives into a “grease the groove” workout 3 times per day.  Now starting today I’m trying to just bang out one full rep with each arm, at least once per day.  I got my morning session in and got about one rep with each arm (chin wasn’t quite over the bar with the right arm, but it was an inch or less away)– so far so good!  I don’t want to overtrain so I’m trying to be careful.  I’ve experienced some pain in my elbow-tricep tendon (not my elbow-bicep tendon) after one arm chin-up work which seems surprising.  I think its a combination of flexing the tricep so hard during the motion and maybe the proximity to the shoulder-lat tendon.  I don’t want to get tendonitis, so I’m trying to be careful…anyways it is definitely the hardest move I’ve ever pulled off (haven’t tried to do a one arm handstand pushup, but maybe someday)…

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      Congratulations!  Two months of training is incredibly fast to get this feat – you are a beast!  Keep up the great work.

      My first one arm chin is a memory that will always stay with me.  It was at TSP in July 2008 (almost a year after I started training for it) and I didn’t repeat the feat again for months.  I guess I must have been pretty fired up that day!

      • By Lage - Reply

        Thanks for the congrats!  I agree with you, my first OAC will always be a memory to remember as well.  I was at my friends’ place talking about my progress with the pulley assistance and said “Why don’t I try to see if I can get one for REAL this time?”  I said “You guys better look just in case by some fluke, I get the rep.”  With no warm-up, and seemingly no hesitation, I pulled with the left and got one rep!  Then I got greedy and went for a second (I got about half way up and failed).  Then I grabbed the bar with the right arm and pulled a rep…I was so pumped up afterward, with my adrenaline rushing through my veins, I couldn’t wait to get home and continue training.  I ended up repeating the feat for my wife the next morning with no warm-up (she didn’t seem as interested, but she knew it was a big deal to me so she humored me anyways).  I plan to continue my training but I wanted to ask you about the tricep tendon issue.  Did you ever feel pain in your elbow-tricep tendon (lower part of the back-upper arm)?  I’ve been doing a lot of one arm push up work lately and so I quit completely a couple days ago because of the dull ache after pulling.  I wasn’t sure if it contributed to it.  I expected pain in my elbow-bicep tendon, but instead have been getting a slight ache in my elbow-tricep tendon on the back of my arm.  It goes away slowly with rest throughout the day, but I don’t want to make anything worse.  Have you ever felt tricep-tendon pain after OAC work?  I seemed to get this ache after the slow negatives more so than after the real reps….interesting…

        • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

          I haven’t personally experienced tendon pain where you are describing but I’m not surprised to hear you are having those issues (I have had tendon pain in my biceps and shoulders).  The one arm pull-up is extremely taxing on the joints, so you must ease into it.  Sometimes muscles can get stronger faster than the connective tissue that supports them.  As you suggested, one arm push-ups might also be the culprit.  It might be good for you to take a few days off from training to reset, then go back to working basic movements like regular push-ups and pull-ups and ease back in slowly to the single arm stuff.

          • By Lage -

            Al, good news.  I got rid of my tendon pain in the tendon connecting my tricep to my elbow.  I just eliminated one arm push up training, and I believe that helped.  It may also be that since I’ve been greasing the groove with the one arm pulling work, that my tendons have started to strengthen as well.  So I’ll never know for sure if it was the one arm pushups in combination with the one arm pulling work that was causing the tendon pain (I suspect it just strained that tendon too much) — but the important part is that the pain is gone now.  Since it was a “pushing” tendon, I believe the one arm push-ups were the culprit, but I wasn’t feeling this pain until after doing the pulling work (that tendon got strained just from me flexing so darn hard during the OAC work).  Anyways, just thought I’d share this update. 

          • By Al Kavadlo -

            Glad to hear you’re back on track!  Causality can be very difficult to determine, as there are always several factors at play.  Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  • By Peter - Reply

    Hi Al,
    I’ve been working on the one arm chin up for about 2-3 months but I’m not making much progress.When I pull with 2 arms and let go the left arm and I go down 90 degrees and pull up when my chin is over with the right. I tried to do a full range of motion one arm chin up but I can not start I just stay in dead hang and cant pull even a bit. On the negatives I go down really slow ’till the 90 degrees then when I pass 90 degrees I just fall down to dead hang for a second. I’ve tried many different exercises but I can’t do any more progress.
    I want to achieve the one arm chin up/pull up really bad but I don’t know what to do anymore.Can you help me out, please ?

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      Hey Peter – Be patient, it takes a very long time to get this skill.  It sounds like you’re doing great for 2-3 months.  Keep working on it!

    • By Lage - Reply

      Peter, 

      One thing that helped me out early on was the towel assist method (which you’ve probably heard about).  With me, the problem was, even when I used the towel for assistance and grabbed it fairly low (to increase difficulty), I could use quite a bit of force to help me (which was sacrificing a needed higher resistance in my main pulling arm).  I decided to use a pulley to fix this.  I basically used an Extreme gymnast ring, hung it on the perpendicular-grip of my Iron gym pull-up up bar, and used the gymnast ring strap to attach to a weight (say 25# to start).  Then I used my assistance arm to pull on the strap using the ring as a pulley.  This way I knew exactly how much assistance I was getting and you can do the same.  Just set up a pulley assistance method and you can add as much weight as you need to get yourself up from a dead hang to the 90 point.  If you get strong enough or are strong enough, to where you don’t need the assistance during the top range of the movement, just let go.  This way, you’ll get enough assistance to crawl out of the dead hang.  Over time, reduce the amount of weight on the pulley until there is no more weight — and you’re golden.  Once I was able to get a 1 armer, I realized I was at my strength limit.  So in order to master the OAC, I’ve been following some of things that Al and others with the skill have suggested like OA negatives (full ROM), static holds (top, 90, 135 degrees), as well as adding my personal touch (partial reps from dead hang to 90 degrees), etc.  I’m definitely feeling more comfortable with one arm work.  I have my weaknesses at the top of the movement, where I am able to go from the deadhang to 90 degrees no problem (opposite of your weakness).  Even though I’ve been able to pull off a OAC a few times, I still need to work on my weaknesses if I am ever going to master this “fickle mistress”.  I’m able to hold at the top and 90 degrees (one arm static holds) for 10 seconds each, and continue the negative and hold at 135 degrees for 5 seconds, in the same rep (kicks my ass a little bit, but not to failure).  I’ve been greasing the groove (average 3 times throughout day) and so far so good.  Peace and love Peter!

      • By Peter - Reply

        Thank you Lage,
        I tried throwing a rope over the bar, I grab one end of the rope and I tied weights on the other end. I was able to pull myself up when my chin is over the bar with only 5kg on the rope (I’m 55 kg,14 years old).  I tried decreasing the weight but with 2.5 kg i was only able to pull 2-3 inches. I can do a static hold on the top for 30 seconds and longer, my max was 36.2 seconds. At 90 degrees I can hold only 2-3 seconds then its the moment I go straight down. I think my shoulder is very weak
        and also my lateral muscles so that is why I cant start. If I do exercises that strenghten those muscles will it help me ?

        • By Lage - Reply

          Peter,

          If I were you, I would practice increasing the time that you hold at 90 degrees, while using the weighted pulley.  Right now you can only do 2-3 seconds at 90 degrees (without weight, right?), so with the weighted pulley you could practice holding at 90 degrees for longer time.  It’s a sure way to track progress and improve on the skills you have already (i.e. holding for 2-3 seconds).  Once you get up to 15 to 30 second holds at 90 degrees with the pulley, decrease the weight.  Second, if you can pull yourself up with 5kg on the pulley, then increase the number of reps with this weight (can you do 1 or 2 reps with the 5kg pulley or more?  Increase this number).  When you can do 4 to 6 reps, decrease the weight.  If 2.5kg is not enough, and all you have are 2.5kg weights, then add a bag of bolts or something to bring it up to 3 or 4 kg.  As for strengthening other muscles, I would practice shoulder-locked dead hangs as well with one arm to build up some of the stabilizers.  Pushups (one arm and regular) as well as varied-hand-placement handstand pushups are great exercises for the shoulders.  It wouldn’t hurt to do them as well.  As Al said, be patient, because progress in this exercise is sometimes slow. 

          • By Peter -

            Lage,

            I’ve just tried to do static holds at 90 degrees with the pulley. 14 seconds with 7.5 kg on the pulley and 6-7 seconds with 5 kg. Sadly I could not do even one pull up with 5 kg, but did two reps with 7.5 kg.

          • By Peter -

            Lage,
            Thank you so much for your tips man. The progress I made on the 90 degrees hold in these 5 days is dramatic, a second ago I managed to hold 90 degrees for 12.6 seconds no pulley. I also did 15 seconds with 3kg weights and managed to bang out one chin up with only 3.5 kg on the pulley. I’ll keep training hard and see if I could complete my first One Arm Chin up by the of 2011.

          • By Lage -

            Peter,

            No problem.  Just pay it forward dude!  If you have any useful training knowledge to pass on, share it with the world!  I’m glad to hear that those tips helped you out!  Awesome!

            Peace,
            -Lage

          • By Peter -

            Lage,
            Today I did 16.5 seconds 90 degrees hold no pulley.Now its time to get on the 135 degrees hold, right ?

          • By Lage -

            Peter,

            I would just practice all different angles (45, 90, 135, etc.), as well as lock offs, so you can comfortably hold at any position for several seconds (without any assistance).  After a while you can practice negatives with holds at those various angles throughout your descent, I’m sure.  Personally for me the hardest angle is 90 degrees.  135 and 45 degree holds are a piece of cake, and I can generally perform several positive reps from a deadhang up to the 90 degree angle, but the top half of the rep is where my relative weakness lies — and thus is what I work on the most.  I’ve only been able to pull off one arm chin-ups for one rep and then I fail.  Some days, I can’t get a full one so I know that I’m near the limit of my strength.  I need to work up to 2 or 3 reps on the one-armers and I’m working on using the pulley for the positive on the rep, and then lowering with no assistance at all using the one arm and locking off at various angles during the negative portion of the rep.  I feel stronger than I did when I first pulled a one-armer, but I want to gain more strength before I try multiple reps for the one armers.  Keep working hard, as that’s the only way to get there.  Peace.
            -Lage

          • By Peter -

            Lage,
            I tried today 135 degrees with 7.5 kg pulley did 16 seconds with 5kf I’ll try tomorrow. If you have difficulties when you pass 90 degree and go up, just try  holding static hold at the top then lower yourself with one arm to 90 degrees and go back up. I’ve got no problem with that. I can do like 2-4 reps of those if I am in good shape. Now since I can hold the 90 degrees for longer I do my negatives with approximately 5 seconds longer but when I try the OAC I can’t start I believe if I could start I’ll easily get to the top. What do you think I should do, train holding 135 degrees or pull my self up from deadhang to 90 degrees or to the top with the pulley ?

          • By Lage -

            Peter,

            Yes I would practice the bottom 90 degrees if thats where your weaknesses lie.  Try deadhang holds, 135 degree holds, and pulley-assisted-90-degree reps (and one arm negative on the way down).  Its important that you go to full extension (slowly) at the bottom of the rep so that you build up the necessary strength near the dead hang position.  That way you’ll be able to pull out of it more easily.  It sounds like that’s where your main weakness is.  As for my training, I am able to perform a 30 second hold at the top and around 20-25 seconds at the 90 degree part (not in the same rep), but I lose a lot of strength at the top half of the rep when I do a complete rep starting from the bottom.  I believe its just because I’m using so much energy to get that most difficult part completed, that by the time I get to the 90 degree point, I’m exhausted.  I have 185 pounds to pull up and it’s never been easy with one arm.  I plan on continuing my pulley assist for the positive, followed by one arm negatives with lock-offs during the negative.  It’s working pretty well so far as I do feel more comfortable performing the reps.  I’ve been doing a grease the groove 1 to 3 times per day for this along with either one arm pushups or ring dips.  Practice makes perfect.  It’s a slow journey to master this feat.  I may have performed the one arm chin-ups a few times now but I am far from mastering the skill and I know that it will take a while.  Peace!

          • By Peter -

            Lage,
            So far so good, I tried with 5 kg 135 holds and got 15-16 seconds. Also tried 90 degrees reps with 7.5kg but got one and a half rep (1 rep to the 90 degrees, 1 to 135 degrees in one set). Yesterday I did negatives with the pulley real slow and I felt tension in the back of the shoulder, so I guess its working tried some negatives today even slower and everything was okay, no tension.Peace! 

          • By Peter -

            Lage,
            I’m back with some progress. I got 6 reps with 7.5 kg  I did 3 with 5kg managed to do 3 but not that good at form and today after school I tried to do a one arm chin up not from deadhang because my bar is not that high more likely from 170 degrees (if deadhang is 180 degrees) and for my surprise I was able to go up to approximately 140 degrees. I still need a lot of training to get it, but I’m dedicated to that feat and I will do it someday soon.

          • By Lage -

            Peter, great work!  I’ve been focusing on weighted ring dips lately and have put the one arm pullup work on the second priority (since I’m stronger then I’ve ever been in that department now).  I can do a one arm pullup with each arm now (most days), as well as a lock off at the top and a slow negative (after the one arm rep)!  My weak point is still up top (the last 45 to 90 degrees) so I still have work to do before I master this!  I’ve decided to strengthen my lats in other ways now (like weighted RING dips which I never did before two weeks ago — I’m up to BW+60# for 10 reps!) and greasing the groove with heavy deadlifts (1 to 3 sets per day with at least 60%-1RM / 300# x 5 reps).  I have to say, that workin’ those weighted ring dips certainly helps in strengthening those lats from another angle and the stability needed on those rings makes parallel bar dips look like cotton candy.  Since I put deadlifts on the backburner for the last several months (while I was achieving the one arm chins I stopped deadlifting altogether), I am bringing them back now but in a grease the groove fashion.  With the ring dips, I definitely feel it in my lats (similar to after OAC work), so I’m going to continue these and the deadlifts as well and then go back to the OAC work later to see if it improves it some.  Keep training hard bro!

          • By Peter -

            Lage,
            Dude I finally got it. Today I was feeling really pumped up and had a desire to do that at school but there weren’t any bars, so when I got home I tried and failed, then I did one rep with my assisting hand on my shoulder. And like 5 minutes ago I tried again and did it. Not from deadhang but still I’m very happy.

          • By Lage -

            Peter, that’s great news!  I must say though, it’s got to be from a deadhang to be a true rep!  To be honest, my very first “rep” wasn’t a deadhang, but my second attempt was and it was quite a bit harder (despite being only an extra 10 degrees of motion or so).  Keep up the good work though and let me know when you get that baby (from the deadhang)!  Stay strong brotha’ !

          • By Al Kavadlo -

            Congrats, Peter!  For the record, I still can’t do it from a full dead hang.

  • By Dmitry - Reply

    Hi, Al,
    I found your blog via Convict Conditioning 2 book and really enjoy your open approach and positive attitude. Thanks. I am following CC progressions: I can do 20 normal pull-ups and 11 uneven pull-ups (hand over wrist), but one hand is a dead trick. I managed to do uneven pull-ups with other hand on elbow (instead of wrist), but then I feel weird pain in my ribs on the side. Will keep going. Thank you for inspiration and… I ordered your book, hope it will get safely to Sydney. :)

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      Thanks, Dmitry!  Your book has already shipped and should arrive next week.  Keep training hard!

      • By Dmitry - Reply

        I surely will.
        May be I just want to much: one year ago I could barely do 10 pull-ups. Takes time… :)

      • By Dmitry Baranovskiy - Reply

        Just wanted to let you know that I did it: one arm pull-up. :) Thank you for inspiration.

        • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

          Congratulations, Dmitry! Keep training hard!

  • By Ty - Reply


    If you want to get technical about it, a pull-up is done with a pronated (overhand) grip, while a chin-up implies a supinated (underhand) grip”

    I agree that chinning implies supine/underhand grip since that’s the easiest way of doing it, since our shoulders can adduct/extend better with the supine grip and people usually can pull better with the stronger biceps and all that. Plus, and this is a guess, but I feel like I can flex the elbow to a greater degree without the radius in the way of the ulna and all that.

    They’re really all pull-ups though. Controversy over whether to say “neutral grip chinup” or “neutral grip pullup” proves that. Plus when we use lat pulldowns, we don’t call it “lat chindowns”, we just say the grip instead, so we should just do that for chins/pulls do.

    The use of “chin” can specify the height we pull to, much like “neck-up” or “sternum-up” to mean more difficult and pulling higher, or “mouth-up”, “nose-up”, “eyes-up”, or “brow-up” to be those easier partial reps.

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      I see your nomenclature is evolving.  :)

  • By Peter - Reply

    Hey, Al
    Its me again – Peter. I got the one arm chin up 5 months ago and my one arm pull up 2 months ago. But now I dedicated my strenght towards the OAP and I cannot do the OAC again.
    The OAP, I can do from a deadhang but not always. Sometimes I start the OAP from deadhang but i can’t get my chin over the bar for just a half inch. Do you know which is the reason somedays the OAP seems to be impossible ?
    Also I would like to know how you trained for multiple reps ?
    And one last question – If someone is able to do a weighted pull up with 100% bodyweight does that automatically means that the person is able to do one arm pull ups with each hand ? (I’m still stuck on pull ups with 60% bodyweight, though.)

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      Peter – The OAP is a very elusive move. I still struggle with it too sometimes. I trained for multiple reps by practicing consistently.

      And no, just because someone can chin their bodyweight x 2 does not mean they can automatically do the OAP.

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  • By physical therapy business - Reply

    one pull up arm by utilizing chin workout very difficult and tough because practice makes a perfect,so for this stamina count to do more taken the positive results for this purpose.

  • By James Candell - Reply

    Hey Al, I can do 10 dead hang shoulder – width pull ups and chin ups consecutively and under 30 seonds, I can do 12 on a good day and the record is 14 clean ones (with the chin well over the bar), I’m gunna try weighted pull ups on a weighted belt for training for the one armed ones, how much weight should I use for my first try and how many reps should I do, should I do it in sets or just try it once and do it again the next time I train?

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      Start off relatively light – maybe around 20% of your bodyweight. Eventually you can work towards a larger percentage. Take your time and experiment with different set and rep schemes. I don’t know you enough to be much more specific than that.

      • By James Candell - Reply

        Hey Al, sorry I took so long to reply back, I should have been more specific in my post, I’m 67 Kg’s (around 148 lb’s) so using Google’s calculator, 20% of 67 is around 13 .4 (which is about 30 Ib’s), I tried doing it the other day with 15 Kg’s and I could do 3 clean consecutive reps at a comfortable pace, I am doing the right thing? and in what way should I progress onto adding more weights, BTW Al, sorry if I sounded ”short” or ”quick” in my first comment, I just didn’t want to write too much!, Keep up the good work Al!, your website is really interesting and its gives me so much motivation and inspiration! If you want to know more information about me, don’t be afraid to request it!

        • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

          No need for an apology, James! I love hearing from my fans!

          Unfortunately, I don’t have time to give everyone a detailed reply. It sounds like you’re on the right track though.

          • By James Candell -

            OK Al, Thank You!

          • By Robby Taylor -

            James, I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “what way” you should add more weight…you said you’re using a weight belt so I presume you mean you mean how will you know when it is time to add more weight. Well, firstly, just as with bodyweight pull ups, you can do different variations with weight. Chin ups will allow you to use the most weight, while pull ups should also be done to hit all of the muscle groups most effectively. As for when you are ready to add more weight, I would say once you can do 8~10 reps at a given weight, then it is a good idea to add enough extra weight so that you can only do 3~5 clean reps, then build your reps back up.

            Keep in mind that using negatives and one arm assisted variations, as well as supinated grip (chin up grip) back lever training will all be helpful in training for the one arm chin up, and it is wise to mix up your training, at least when your progress begins to stall out with one specific exercise.

          • By James Candell -

            OK Robby, Thank You, I should have been more specific, what I meant was when I can do 8-10 reps in 3 sets with lets say 15 Kg’s, next time I do my training, should I try it with 25 Kg’s or 30Kg’s?

          • By RobbyTaylor -

            30 seems like a pretty big jump from 15 to me, personally, but as long as you can pull off (or pull up, rather) clean form for reasonable reps without any undue pain then yeah; whatever you’re comfortable with. Personally I would probably go from 15 to 20 or 25. But, this could be another cue for when to switch grips. You could be doing 8-10 pull ups + 15 kg then go to 3-5 + 30 kg chin ups. Personally, I try to think of each time I add weight as a refresh to a beginner. Instead of thinking “I’m 67 kg and I’m doing pull ups with an additional 15 kg”, think “It’s like I’m 82 kg and I can barely do pull ups because of all this dead weight”. This is exactly what it’s like for someone carrying around dead weight. To me, it makes my potential strength limit seem farther away.

          • By James Candell -

            Yeah, I see what you mean Robby, I can do 3 clean reps with 15KG (Pullups, I haven’t tried it with chin ups yet), I tried 25 KG and then 20KG, again Pullups and I admit that I could only do 1 rep of each!

  • By Mads - Reply

    Hey Al – First of all, thank you for all your tutorials, and motivational impact.
    A few months ago i saw a man in a wheelchair do a one arm pull up. Even though i have wanted to get this skill down for quite some time, i was totally amazed to see this in “real life”, opposed to youtube videos. As you said yourself: It was a gamechanger.

    He explained the importance of negatives to me. 2 months ago i wasn’t able to do a controlled negative at all. Now i can do about 10 seconds. Almost equally strong on both arms. I am about 168 cm, 65 kg, 21 years old, and have been bboying/breakdancing for most of my life – so bodyweight training isn’t new to me. I can do somewhere between 20-25 regular pull ups without my arms falling off, and have a quite solid foundation. A week ago i did 1.5 pull up with 45kg attached in a dipping belt, so it seems like I’m on my way, in terms of muscular strenght, BUT!

    I am starting to experience pain in my left elbow. It’s quite painful when doing one arm negatives (so i avoid them for some time). Not very bad when just holding a static hold with chin above the bar. When using both arms, even when doing heavy weightened pull ups, the pain is not as bad. But as soon i start doing 1 arm exercises it gets worse. I also experience pain in my elbows SOMETIMES whenever i train biceps, also with heavy weight.

    It seems my strenght in my tendons, doesn’t follow my muscular strenght, and i am a little worried. So, straight to the point: How to go about tendonitis? TOTAL breaks, just avoid one arm exercises, keep training as long as the pain is not unbearable?

    It is quite frustrating knowing that i really progress in this skill somewhat, and yet some parts of my body just doesn’t seem ready yet.
    Just want to know about your experience with tendonitis, how to overcome it, and in the future; Avoid it.

    Foods, exercises, training schedules and such. Everything is welcomed, and i would be deepy thankful for any inputs.

    All the best
    Mads

    • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

      Thanks for the kind words, Mads! As for your issue, tendons and other connective tissue take longer to adapt than muscle. This is why tendinitis is common when people begin training feats like the OAP, human flag, etc. Lower your training volume and be patient.

    • By Robby Taylor - Reply

      Mads, I would like to add one thing to Al’s suggestions. Personally, I think it is a great idea to train the supinated (chin up) grip back lever before you seriously train for several other high level moves, including the one arm chin up. The significance here is that the supinated grip back lever really reinforces the elbows, and also hits the biceps pretty hard; in fact, the stress that it does to the bicep tendon is highly beneficial toward training the planche. Having this kind of baseline conditioning will only help to ensure you can progress toward the one arm chin up more safely.

  • By James Candell - Reply

    Hey Al, sorry if I’m bothering you again, I know your busy working out on all those exercises!!! but I discovered in the college Gym that I now go to that they have an assisted pull/chin up machine, its primary function I guess would be for helping people who arn’t strong enough train towards the standard 2 hand chin/pull ups where you can select the amount of help you want on the machine depending on how strong you are, because I’ve seen people using it for that purpose.
    I tried it out today with a one armed pull up and found the assistance helped me get my chin over the bar, do you think this would be another good way to work towards a one armed pull/chin up? Also Al, is your book ”Raising the Bar” only available online?

    • By RobbyTaylor - Reply

      Your primary training should still consist of one arm negatives/isometrics, weighted chins, and assisted one arm variations. Throw in one arm rows and supinated grip back lever (strengthens the elbows and biceps) training and you’ve got a pretty diverse set of exercises right there. The machine you describe can be helpful for gauging your progress, however it takes out pretty much all of the core work and stability training that is given to you with every other exercise I listed. That is the main reason why it should not be considered as a primary training method for the one arm pull up. But that’s ok, because you can definitely get there with the exercises I listed! There are no quick answers or easy shortcuts to one arm pull ups; keep your chin up (pun totally intended), James, and train HARD!

      • By James Candell - Reply

        Yeah Robby! That’s the right attitude! Train REALLY HARD! Thanks for the reply!

        • By James Candell - Reply

          Acutally I have one more question!, whats a one arm row?

          • By RobbyTaylor -

            A one arm row is aka a one arm Australian pull up ;). Forgot to mention frenchies are a nice variation too (check the one arm pull up tutorial at beastskills.com).

        • By Al Kavadlo - Reply

          As usual, Robby is on the money! As for Raising The Bar – yes it is available in paperback: http://www.dragondoor.com/b63/?apid=4e8cb1ea167b0

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