Partial Workout - Increasing your chin-up capacity


Ed recommends partial chin ups to both beginner & advanced

Ed recommends partial chin ups to both beginner & advanced

One question that comes up repeatedly in my e-mail is how can I increase the number of chin-ups that I presently do? On one end of the spectrum this question comes from beginners who can only do two or three chin-ups. It also comes from trained individuals who need to do more reps for a fitness test or a competition.

The answer for both beginner and advanced is the partial workout or better put a workout that incorporates partial chin-ups. I find partial chin ups a great way of promoting strength gains and at the same time add some variety to my workouts.

Many trainers recognize the value of the chin up in building upper body muscle but don’t know what to do when they hit the “wall” or a “plateau”. What I mean by a “plateau” is the inability to add another rep in your chin up regiment.

I am going to share with you my 30-minute partial workout that guarantees you’ll increase your chin up capacity. The routine is simple and effective. Ten sets of wide, medium and narrow grip chins for a total of 30 sets. Remember the entire 30 sets will be completed in 30 minutes. That means one set and the rest before starting the next set will be one minute. Before you say “that’s impossible for me”, bear with me while I explain how you tailor this to your level of fitness. There are two variables to this routine:

1. The length of the partial chin up (3/4 rep, ½ rep, or ¼ rep)

2. The number of repetitions (between 3 & 6 reps).

The EasyChin bar makes partial chin ups easy to set up...

The EasyChin bar makes partial chin ups easy to set up...

To determine the 1st variable, the length of the partial, first find a chin up bar. Now place a book or box on the floor beneath the chin up bar to raise you up so you are ¼ or ½ or ¾ of the way up to completing a chin up when you grab a wide grip. Note the closer to the bar you are standing, by the means of a box, the easier the chin up is to complete. Experiment with the height of the box until you can perform at least 3 repetitions easily. You will be doing only partial range of motion, from touching your chin on the bar at the top to touching the box with your feet on the bottom.

If you are a beginner you may need to raise the box so high that your range of motion from top to bottom is only 3 or 4 inches.

It will take you no more than 15 seconds to complete between 3 to 6 partial reps, then you have 45 seconds to rest before your next set. If you pick a range of motion and a repetition number that is easy to perform on the first set you should be able to perform all ten sets. The tenth set will be very difficult but achievable.

Once you have completed 10 wide grip sets change your grip to medium shoulder width chin-ups. Use the same reps and range of motion as the previous series of sets. You continue through 10 sets as with the previous grip. When 10 sets of medium grip chin-ups are completed proceed to narrow grip pull-ups.

This routine has 3 series of 10 sets each. Each series takes 10 minutes to complete. As your strength is diminished at the end of one series (like the wide grip) you switch to another grip like medium and then to a narrow grip that are progressively easier. They in fact will not be easier but just as difficult because your muscles are taxed from the previous harder series of chin-ups. just placing the EasyChin bar lower on the doorframe just placing the EasyChin bar lower on the doorframe

One of the aspects of this workout that makes it so effective is the 3 focused 10-minute series of chin-ups. The mind can convince the body to do just about anything if it’s only for 10 minutes. Focus on the 10 set, 10-minute series not the entire 30-minute workout. You will receive a boost from the tenth set to first set of the next grip because of the leverage advantage you will receive from a narrower grip. This is a highly effective workout for increasing you chin up power.

There are 3 other things you must do with this workout to achieve maximum benefit.

1. Repeat every 6 days only. This makes it easy to follow by moving the workout day back by one from week to week. For example: if you begin your partial workout on Monday your next workout is on Sunday then Saturday and so on.

2. Do no resistance training that works your biceps, back or shoulders during the month of partial workouts.

3. Start your 1st partial workout as easy as possible then increase every workout by no more than 3 reps total per each 10 set series.


Now everyone can reap the benefits of wide grip chin ups with partials

Now everyone can reap the benefits of wide grip chin ups with partials


Day 1 - Monday


3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3

Day 6 - Sunday

3 3 3 3 4 3 4 3 4 3


If you follow this plan you can expect to increase your chin up output by 50% in one month, which will be your 5th and last workout.

Click here for a workout log for partials

Final Advice:

Start easy, progress slowly and stop the Partial Workout after 30 days. I can personally attest to the effectiveness of this routine. Please follow to the letter all the aspects of the routine. It is tried and proven, enjoy your progress!