Health and Fitness

Chin-Up Challenge! 12 Weeks. No Holds Barred. Join Me?

I’m writing a 21-day Bikini Body Transformation course at the moment. I think I may have mentioned it on a WI Facebook update last week? It’s for myself as much as you. Nothing like laying down a challenge for a few weeks and seeing what you can do when you pull out all the stops!

Anyway, it’s going to take me another week or so to finish it off, but the truth is that I’m simply ITCHING to start some sort of challenge NOW. And even though I’m already testing out my bikini body theories (I’m a week in!), there’s one thing that has been lurking over me as a goal for a good couple of years.

the chin-up challenge!

It’s to complete a full set of 12 chin-ups, and just this morning my go-to mentor on all things strength, fat loss and hormonal, Mr Charles Poliquin, published an article that kinda forced me to admit I’ve had this one on the back burner for too long.

Especially shameful considering I know it’s just a matter of focusing on it and employing some smart strategies to get me to that goal. True of any goal, of course πŸ™‚

Anyway, I know I’m not alone in this particular goal. I’ve heard it mentioned many a time from Woman Incredible readers, and maybe, just maybeΒ  (even if you’ve never dared admit it aloud), you yourself would quite like to smugly jump down from the bar after a similar achievement? You do know there’s nothing more empowering than a super-strong chick don’t you?

how to improve your chin-ups: the details

So. The challenge is simple. As Charles himself says, any female should be able to do 12 chin-ups in 12 weeks, with the right coaching and program. Not convinced? Well there’s really only one way to find out, isn’t there?!

Basically there are 3 methods you can choose from. They are outlined in the afore-mentioned article, towards the end. I’m starting with method 1, for 3 weeks, and then I might change to method 2. Will you join me? I hope so! Here’s what you need to do:

  • Read the post. The bit on machines for chins is very relevant, so if you’re just starting out it would be good to buddy up for a spot or just do eccentrics, i.e. jump up and control down. Bands are also great if your gym has them.
  • Choose your preferred (starting) method
  • Comment on this post with your commitment and which method you’re going to try.
  • It would also be good to note down where you’re at now of course, and share that in the comments once you have

Every few weeks I will check in with you, as well as let you know my progress!

full disclosure

At the moment I can perform 6 traditional pull-ups or semi-supinated (the grip I used in the video above), or 4-5 good chin-ups. That’s with about a 3010 tempo. I’m pretty excited to see where I’m at 12 weeks from now!

Are you in? I dare ya’!


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48 responses to “Chin-Up Challenge! 12 Weeks. No Holds Barred. Join Me?”

  1. Sara says:

    I did this last year with my trainer who is also Poliquin certified. I had hit a plateau and was stuck physically and mentally. I thought is sounded like a fun change to not focus so much on body composition as a goal. It took me a while to get there but it changed my body more than any other goal I have ever set. Huge change in abdominal definition. A bonus: I was at the park w/ my kids and a teen boy was smoking I told him if I beat him in pull ups he had to promise to quit smoking. He laughed at me and agreed and I blew him away. I hope he kept his promise.

    • Kat says:

      Haha, that’s awesome. Nice one! I completely agree about having a non body-comp challenge. Important for a lot of us driven ladies I think.

    • Barbora says:

      Wow! ThatΒ΄s hillarious and amazing, Sara:))) You taught him a great lesson!!!

  2. vee says:

    oh wow! tempted…so why not?! I’m going to have to test how many i can do unassisted and from a dead hang..i did band ones the day and managed 10 (although i did them straight after squats). oh yeah 12 weeks!

    • Kat says:

      Yeah Vee! Make sure you get in on this! (PS … posted your multi etc today :))

      • vee says:

        Sweetness! Thanks Kat! πŸ™‚ My back’s still sore atm but i’m going to get started on this by this weekend!

      • Kat says:

        Great! Keep me updated πŸ™‚

      • vee says:

        so started the 12 week chin up challenge and i’m at 1 strict pullup (pronated) and 7-10 band pullups. Aiming to do at least 3 strict pullups by the end of 12 weeks! Going to use method 1 as well πŸ™‚

      • Vee says:

        A little late w the updates but i’m up to 2 dead hang pull ups πŸ™‚ Still working out when to fit pull up training (e.g. i have no energy to muster if i attempt any after doing my weights) and have found doing them in between sets the best way to go.

      • Kat says:

        I was about to say in between sets until I read your last sentence! Perfect πŸ™‚

  3. Tanya says:

    I can’t do any unassisted at the moment, can I still do the challenge?
    I’ve actually had unassisted chin ups on my list of things I’d love to be able to do for ages but have never really done anything about it. I’d be over the moon if i could do it.

    • Kat says:

      Yes, you definitely can! Can you get some bands? You hook them over the bars and put your feet in and it lifts you (helps), then you just focus on the eccentric.

    • Alex says:

      That is exactly the same as me Tanya! I would love to be able to do one, but I don’t know where to start! How do you get to your first one???

      • Kat says:

        Hi Alex, just start by jumping up and stabilising yourself at the top then lower down as slow as possible. Do each rep this way until you can eventually do one ‘full’ chin-up, even if you have to have a break between each rep. You will get there! I started that way myself. On occasion you might be able to get someone to ‘spot’ you, and/or you can get bands to help you as discussed on the comments earlier. You can do it!

  4. I’m so going to do this with you! πŸ™‚ The only problem with the methods he suggested is that I can’t even do 1 unassisted pull up. So I’m thinking I can jump up and work the eccentric movement, but for how long and how many do you think I should start with?

  5. You can definitely jump, or get bands which you put your feet in and they sort of lift you. I used to jump before I could do one. What do you mean by how long? Start with as many as you can, but at least 3 seconds down and aim for 30 seconds down on the last one. Even one at a time for 30 seconds down will help.

  6. Andray says:

    Woo hoo! Go Kat!

  7. Jessie says:

    I’m definitely up for this challenge! I managed to perform 6 today on a chin up bar whilst being partially assisted by my trainer and that was very tough!. I liked the method you used in the video.

  8. Darlene says:

    Hi Kat,
    I just started looking at you’re site after finding it a week or so ago but I’m really enjoying it. Everything you say is very interesting. I’m a 51 yr. old woman & have worked out well, almost all my life. My problem is my legs! They look like I’ve never worked out. I am 130 lbs. @ 5’6″. My arms & even my stomach looks great for my age, well everyone says they do but I carry most of my fat on my legs. I would really appreciate any suggestions you have about how to get more shapely and toned legs. I’ve done all kinds of workouts over the years but I still have cellulite on my thighs & fat over my knee caps. Also my butt is getting flabby & droopy even though I’ve always worked out too.
    Thanks so much for you’re time.

  9. Chantelle Swayne says:

    Really inspired me with this one! Up until now I had been doing band pull ups twice a week (so much fun!) and had worked up to three full pull ups (close grip, plams together) in 8 weeks. I was so proud – but this article made me want to do so much better! Boy, am I sore after doing 20 jump-up & 30 seconds down pull ups. Amazing for the abs, surprisingly! Took a lot of mental build-up to do those last few sets. 12 good pull- ups, here I come! πŸ™‚

    • Kat says:

      Definitely a lot of abs in pull-ups! That sounds like you are already off to an awesome and inspiring start before the challenge Chantelle. I look forward to hearing how you progress! I did chin-ups today in between every set of my workout and was shaking like a leaf by the end of the last 30-sec negative!

  10. Jane says:

    Yes I’ll join in this, I can currently do 4-6 (depending on how I’m feeling!) dead hang pull ups but have been stuck here for a long while now

    I’m going to do 10 x 2 with the last rep lowered slowly

    What I don’t understand is how many times a week I should be doing this and when I should increase to 10 x 3 and so on??


    • Kat says:

      I would shoot for at least twice a week, and up to 4 times. You do need to listen to your body regarding recovery. After a week test if you can do 3 rather than 2 πŸ™‚ – great to have you on board Jane!

  11. Linda Raiti says:

    Well I cant do even 1!!! I tried so hard even to lift myself up but couldn’t! So bands here I come, I up for it Kat, will keep you posted, although it may take much linger than 12 weeks…. hehe x

  12. Louise Carey via Facebook says:

    I want my unassisted pullups, I am so close. I want strict and kipping, an toes to bar as well!

  13. ok im in…unassisted chin ups r my weakness (I can’t even do 1, I use the bands) so i was a bit reluctant at first but I find it difficult to resist a challenge πŸ™‚ What date do we start?

  14. Well I started last week when I wrote the post but have only done one session due to major food poisoning … soooo, could you start this week?! @Louise – toes to the bar?!

  15. Frances says:

    OK I’m in too. I can do a random qty of anywhere between 6 and 15 with a blue band. Let’s introduce some structure and see how far I can go. WooHoo!

  16. Louise Carey via Facebook says:

    Hang off the pull up bar and swing your toes to touch the bar, it pops up regularly in crossfit programming.

  17. Kat says:

    Updates ladies … how are those chins going? Have you been doing them? Progress? I am up 2 reps; very happy!

    • Tanya says:

      I have hit a slight road block, having issues with my back so I have been ordered not to train for a week but will get back on board next week. Still can’t do a pull up unassisted but am working on the eccentric motion and I am definitely getting stronger so I am just going to stick at it. : )

  18. Jane says:

    I started with 10 x 2 which was 2 wks ago, then I had a weeks detox so had to re-adjust training and didn’t do any for a week, tried these again at the weekend and managed 10 x 3 & all 3 reps were pretty good – so really happy πŸ™‚
    Now have torn my calf and physio doesn’t want me doing ANY training for 5 days so will try again at the weekend I will be aiming for 10 x 4 otherwise will do 10 x 3

  19. Frances says:

    Hi Kat, I’ve been doing holds at the bottom, and have increased my times from reps of 3 seconds to 5 seconds and a lift improvement too. Biggest gain though is that my shoulder injury has been recovering and as a result my lower back injury is also now on the mend, which in turn is helping my hip injury. So as these limiting factors repair I expect my reps to improve. Very happy with this progress, being in pain is quite draining – all during a detox too! πŸ˜€

  20. Vee says:

    After a worn-out week last week, 4 pull ups came out from nowhere this morning! πŸ˜€ Off to a good start for xmas!

  21. Jane says:

    I’m still on 10 x 4 deadhang pull ups with a slow lower on the last rep as when I moved from 3 to 4 I found sets 7-10 tough and had to really struggle up so have kept at 10 x 4 for another week

    The improvement was that I didn’t struggle as much until set 9-10 πŸ™‚

    Interested to see what this week brings – although would really like to be able to move to 10 x 5

  22. Kat Eden says:

    Any more updates ladies, before the year ends?!