You are here

How To Increase Your Wide Grip Chin-ups in 4 Weeks

Average: 4.1 (13 votes)
4.1 5 13
Improve your chin ups now! The chin up is an extremely important exercise for back development, but it is not an exercise that many can do with ease.

Joey Vaillancourt Cin UpA big broad wide back is a very important muscle group that everyone wants to develop. It is a signature factor of any great physique and one that automatically demands respect.

It is a sign of hard work, dedication and attention to detail as not many people train their back muscles as much as their chest or arms let alone train their back with proper form and activation.

The V-Taper creates the illusion of a much larger than life appearance and you cannot achieve that look without developing the lat muscles.

Now there are many ways that one can work their back including machine exercises, cable exercises, compound barbell movements and of course bodyweight movements which of course include good old fashioned chin-ups.

The Chin-Up Explained

A chin-up is basically when you grasp a bar that is overhead. You can use a pronated (overhand) or supinated (underhand) grip when performing them.

To develop more width to your back, it is recommended that you perform the wide grip overhand chin-up.

For this exercise, you will grasp the overhead secured bar with each hand spaced about 3-5 inches outside of shoulder width.

From a hanging position you will then focus on pulling the body upwards until you fully contract your back muscles and squeeze the shoulder blades together. You want to make sure you keep your head up and chest out to keep good form.

Then at the top position, you are going to want to lower yourself with a slightly more controlled movement downwards until you are back in the starting hanging position.

The Problem with Wide Grip Chin-ups

The biggest problem people face when it comes to wide grip chin-ups is that they are hard for the majority of people.

Out of all the different variations of the chin-up, the wide grip is by far the most difficult.

It is because when you perform the wide grip chin-up, you are really primarily using the back muscles in an awkward position and most find that their bodyweight proves to be too heavy. But as you use a narrower grip or even switch to underhand, you are using more muscles to pull your body up by including your biceps and back and other supporting muscles thereby allowing you to complete an increased amount of reps.

If a person tries to improve the number of wide grip chin-ups they can perform week after week by simply trying to ‘do more’, they might resort to using momentum or doing partial reps and end up believing that they can do more than they actually are able to.

This is called false belief. You are changing the variables that should remain consistent and by doing so, you are automatically discrediting the outcome. It’s as if you were trying to beat your 100M sprint time and each week you started to sprint from a starting point closer to the finish line. Yes your time will increase, but only because you cheated to get there.

Don’t worry though, I have devised a 4 week plan that you can use to see improvements in your wide grip chin-up count without having to trick or cheat yourself.

The 4 Week Wide Grip Chin-Up Improvement Solution Plan

Make sure you ‘test’ yourself by performing as many wide grip chin-ups as you can the week before starting the 4 week plan. Do this at the beginning of your normal back workout and after of course having warmed up. Just bust out as many as you can with proper form and tempo. Then record that number and keep it in a safe place you will be able to find at the end of the program to make sure you increase your overall count.

The Test
 
The Test Target Set 1 Rest Set 2 Rest Set 3 Rest
Wide Grip Chin Up *   60 sec   60 sec   60 sec

* Perform as many reps as you can.

Week 1

You are going to continue training with the same program you are currently using but you will simply incorporate this specialized training at the beginning of each ‘Back’ day. You may need to adjust your total training volume since you are adding more in with this specialized plan.

Back Training

In each week, you will aim to progressively increase your repetitions over each chin-up variation. Since people who struggle with wide grip chin-ups can still perform narrower grip chin-ups even after completed their wide chin-ups, we will further fatigue the back by including a drop-set type of training combined with a rest pause method.

Here is the exercise plan for this technique:

Week 1
 
  Target Set 1 Rest Set 2 Rest Set 3 Rest
Wide Grip Chin Up *   10 sec   10 sec   10 sec
Medium Grip Chin Up *   10 sec   10 sec   10 sec

Underhand Close Grip

Chin Up

*   60 sec   60 sec   60 sec

* The asterisks under target suggest you perform as many as possible to fatigue. Remember to keep good form and proper tempo.

Week 1 Explanation: You will start by performing as many wide grip chin-ups as you are able to do. Then you would let go of the bar, rest for 10 seconds, then start again but this time using a medium or shoulder width grip and perform as many of those as possible. Once you fatigue and cannot do any more, then let go, rest 10 seconds and then try and complete some underhand close grip chin-ups.

Once you are done your first drop-set of chin-ups, take a 1 minute rest before starting again.

Don’t get too worried about how many you actually complete. Just make sure you record the numbers so we have a reference point for the following weeks.

Week 2

Week 2 you are going to aim to complete at least 1 additional wide grip chin-up in your progression during the work set. So for example, if you completed 15 wide grip chin-ups in your first set in week 1, you would aim to complete 16 this time around. But if for some reason, you are not able to beat that number, and then we are going to use the 10 second rest pause method and continue with the wide grip chin-ups until you do beat your week 1 number. Are you still with me?

The other thing to note is that since we are only trying to improve on the wide grip chin-ups, we will be reducing the target reps for the other chin-up variations. Let me give you another example:

  • Week 1: Set 1 – Wide Grip: 15, Medium Grip: 10, Close Grip: 5
  • Week 2: Set 1 – Wide Grip: 17, Medium Grip: aim for 10, Close Grip: aim for 5

I want you to ‘aim’ to match, not beat, the number of reps on the other two variations (medium and close) and focus only on increasing your wide grips in each set.

V Taper

Do not try and surpass your rep count for the close grip and medium grip. You can match the reps from the previous week, but you want to save your energy to try and increase on your next wide grip set.

Here is the exercise plan for this technique:

Week 2
 
  Target Set 1 Rest Set 2 Rest Set 3 Rest
Wide Grip Chin Up *+1   10 sec   10 sec   10 sec
Medium Grip Chin Up *match*   10 sec   10 sec   10 sec

Underhand Close Grip

Chin Up

*match*   60 sec   60 sec   60 sec

* The asterisks under target for wide grip chin-ups suggest that you try and beat your week 1 rep count by 1 additional rep at least. Use the 10 second rest pause method if you fall short of your goal. Be sure to beat the wide grip rep count before resting again for 10 seconds then moving on to the medium and close grip chin-ups.

*match* means aim to match, but not beat, your week 1 rep count. If you fall short, that is ok. Do not attempt the rest-pause to match week 1. Remember, you are increasing on wide grip chin-ups which will more than likely decrease the other exercise repetitions.

Week 3

Week 3 you will do the same as week 2 where you will aim to beat your last rep count on each wide grip chin-up set only this time you will aim to beat your rep count from week 2.

Use the same rest-pause method in week 3 as discussed in week 2 to beat your previous week’s personal best.

The only difference this time is that you will use a time under tension extension technique on the final set of your wide grip chin-up exercise.

Here is the exercise plan for this technique:

Week 3
 
  Target Set 1 Rest Set 2 Rest Set 3 Rest
Wide Grip Chin Up *+1   10 sec   10 sec   10 sec
Medium Grip Chin Up *match*   10 sec   10 sec   10 sec

Underhand Close Grip

Chin Up

*match*   60 sec   60 sec   60 sec

* The asterisks under target for wide grip chin-ups suggest that you try and beat your week 2 rep count by 1 additional rep at least. Use the 10 second rest pause method if you fall short of your goal. Be sure to beat the wide grip rep count before resting again for 10 seconds then moving on to the medium and close grip chin-ups.

*Set 3: On set 3 of your wide grip chin-ups, I want you once again beat your week 2 total reps by 1 using the rest pause method, but once you beat that count, during the final eccentric action (lowering your body back down), you are going to use a tempo count of 5-10 which basically means you will take about 5-10 seconds to lower yourself to the starting point again. This will place a new stress stimulus on your back muscles and force them to adapt

*match* means aim to match, but not beat, your week 1 rep count. If you fall short, that is ok. Do not attempt the rest-pause to match week 1. Remember, you are increasing on wide grip chin-ups which will more than likely decrease the other exercise repetitions.

Week 4

Week 4 you will be once again progressing on your wide grip-chin-ups but by now, you will more than likely be starting to reach your maximum and progressions will become more difficult.

Therefore, we are going to introduce a de-loading technique for the medium and underhand grip chin-ups.

By de-loading on those specific sets, you will insure you have more energy to progress on the wide grip chin-up sets.

De-loading is pretty simple. Basically, whatever your average was during the past three weeks for your medium and close grip chin-ups, I want you to decrease the number of total reps by 2-3 for those particular exercises. Basically, you do not want to go to failure on those two exercises. We want to conserve energy for the primary exercise (wide grip).

This will allow you to beat your personal best rep count from week 3 on all you wide grip chin-up sets.

Week 4
 
  Target Set 1 Rest Set 2 Rest Set 3 Rest
Wide Grip Chin Up *+1   10 sec   10 sec   10 sec
Medium Grip Chin Up De-load   10 sec   10 sec   10 sec

Underhand Close Grip

Chin Up

De-load   60 sec   60 sec   60 sec

* The asterisks under target for wide grip chin-ups suggest that you try and beat your week 3  rep count by 1 additional rep at least. Use the 10 second rest pause method if you fall short of your goal. Be sure to beat the wide grip rep count before resting again for 10 seconds then moving on to the medium and close grip chin-ups.

*de-load* means you are not going to go to failure on these sets. Instead you will purposefully stop short of your average rep count from previous weeks by about 2-3. This will be personal to each individual and the number can vary.

Week 5

Its time! Week 5 is your test week. All your hard work will soon be rewarded with additional reps being magically added you your personal best records from week 1.

Essentially, you are going to test yourself again just as you did in week 1. Make sure all the factors are the same such as completing the test on the same day, same time of day, beginning of workout and after properly warming up.

Because of the previous 4 weeks of specialized training, your back muscles have made adaptations that it did not posses before and it will now be able to handle more total wide grip chin-ups. So what are you waiting for? Go test it out. You should be able to see an increase of about 4-5 reps on each set.

The Test
 
The Test Target Set 1 Rest Set 2 Rest Set 3 Rest
Wide Grip Chin Up *   60 sec   60 sec   60 sec

* Perform as many reps as you can.

Joey Vaillancourt is the author of the muscle building program, Bones to Buff.

Related Articles View all Workout Articles

  • Share This Article
  • Rate & Share
    Average: 4.1 (13 votes)
  • About The Author
    I am a former skinny/out of shape guy who turned his entire life around by doing the same thing you are doing today…searching for answers to a better body.
Related Supplements View all Top Supplements
C4 Extreme

Powerful Pre-Workout Intensifier With NO3 Technology!

4.45
Average: 4.5 (55 votes)
American ISO

Superior Taste, Instant Solubility, and High Concentration of BCAAs!*

4.05
Average: 4.1 (71 votes)

Comments (11)

Add a comment

No Profile Pic
Jack
Posted Thu, 07/01/2010 - 18:50

This is a great appoach to wide grips pulls! In the month I did this routine I increased my Wide Grip Pulls from 8 to 20!!!!!!!!!!!! Great article!

  • 21
  • 27
No Profile Pic
Joey
Posted Sat, 07/17/2010 - 12:25

Jack,

Glad to hear the article helped you out. Congrats on that progression..very impressive :)

  • 24
  • 21
No Profile Pic
Jason
Posted Fri, 08/13/2010 - 14:10

i've been using this and increased my chin up by 5 reps, but when i was doing it i could barely do 2 or 3 medium grip and close grip chin ups afterwards. can i use this workout for more than 4 weeks to increase my chin ups even more? now i'm only doing about 10...

  • 25
  • 23
Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Fri, 08/13/2010 - 14:35

Hi Jason,

You can run the routine as long as you feel like you need to make more progress.

  • 20
  • 21
No Profile Pic
Kevin
Posted Sun, 08/15/2010 - 10:23

Hello

maybe I did not red article with care but can You please once more point out....how many training per week you suggest.

thx

  • 19
  • 19
Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Sun, 08/15/2010 - 16:40

Hi Kevin,

I believe you perform a pullups workout only once per week.

  • 16
  • 17
No Profile Pic
dan
Posted Wed, 09/29/2010 - 06:24

Hello, once you have completed the whole 5 week workout, what would you recommend after?

  • 14
  • 17
No Profile Pic
Mark
Posted Sat, 11/10/2012 - 10:52

Hi Joey
I rated the article 5/5 because I believe it would work. But I am far from benefiting from it, because I still cannot do even 1 wide-grip. Perhaps you can add a route for us starters.

  • 16
  • 13
Joey's picture
Joey
Posted Wed, 11/14/2012 - 12:49

Hey Mark, I recommend "negative" pull-ups. You would stand on a chair and put your chin above the bar. Then lower yourself as slowly as you can.

  • 22
  • 16
No Profile Pic
David
Posted Mon, 05/27/2013 - 13:05

Well, I started the routine this week and damn i scored an embarrassing 1! So I'm looking forward as to what this workout will bring...

  • 9
  • 14
No Profile Pic
Peter
Posted Mon, 10/07/2013 - 13:39

I don't think this plan is neither designed, not suitable for the absolute beginner, much better for an intermediate. You should be able to do a few pull-ups, and have been doing them for a while before attempting this program. I did the test last night and scored 14-7-5, looking forward to seeing some improvements in 5 weeks!

  • 12
  • 12

Add new comment