Progressive Tension Bodyweight Training – Part 3

Welcome back to the third part of this series.

If you haven’t read the first two parts yet, make sure you go here – Bodyweight Training Part 1, Bodyweight Training Part 2 and read it first.

In today’s article I am going to show you how you build incredibly strong lats and biceps with nothing but your own bodyweight. Forget about lat pull down, barbell rows and all your other typical back exercises. If you want to build a phenomenal back with super human strength then there is only one exercise you need to know. The Pull up / Chin up! Pull ups and chin ups blow every other exercise out of the water. These are honest exercises that you can’t cheat.

When it comes to pull ups the sky is the limit. There are some many different variations that you can do it will blow your mind. In fact there is a new york based group called the bar-barians who specialize in insane playground pull up workouts.

Bodyweight training

The Bar-barians are a team of elite bodyweight trainers from New York. Their goal is to achieve physical perfection, motivate and train other members of their community.

These guys have the most incredible physiques I have ever seen. I am going to introduce to you the most effective pull up and chin up variations.

Pull Up vs. Chin Up – Which One Is Better?

The first questions I get is what is better? The pull up or the chin up. For those that don’t know the pull-up is done with your hands facing away and the chin up is done with your hands facing you. This slight difference totally shifts the emphasis of the muscles being worked. Both variations hit the upper back (lats), biceps and rear delts. However pull ups work the back more and chin ups work the biceps more. The truth is that both variations are awesome. From years of working on pull ups my lats have blown up and I don’t want them any bigger. As a result I focus mostly on chin up variations now.

Step 1 – Perfect Pull Up / Chin Up for 12 Consecutive Reps

The first step towards building superhuman pulling strength is working up to 12+ reps for both pull ups and chin ups. This will provide you with a good base before moving onto more strenuous advanced movements. A perfect pull up is performed from a dead hang and then you pull yourself up until collar bone or neck touches the bar.

If you can’t perform 12 good solid reps then you are going to want to practice chins and pull ups 3-4x per week. Forget about working a muscle once per week. Doing a perfect pull up or chin up is a skill and if you want to get good at those exercises you will have to practice them frequently. The key to getting better at chin up and pull us is performing a high volume without going to failure. So if you can perform 5 good reps currently then I recommend performing up to 10 sets of 3 reps.

Step 2 – Sternum Pull Up / Chin Up

Once you are proficient with pull ups and chins you can try the advanced bodybuilder pull up. In this variation you strive to pull the bottom part of your chest to the bar. You do this by gradually leaning back as you pull yourself towards the bar. This movement builds massive lats and is favored by bodybuilders. At first you will need a partner assist you with the movement because it is very challenging. If you can’t get your lower chest all the way to the bar it’s okay. Do what you can. There is no need to add weight to this variation as it is challenging enough as it is.

Step 3 – Side to Side Pull Up

When regular pull up no longer present a challenge you can progress to side to side pull up. In this variation you start from a wide grip hang. You then proceed to pull your chin up to your left hand. You then lower to the start and then pull up to your right hand. You keep alternating back and from pulling to your left hand and then your right hand. When you pull up to your left hand your left arm is working very hard and your right arm is only assisting. When you pull up to your right hand then your right arm is working very hard and your left arm is assisting. As a result it takes much more strength to perform then typical pull ups.

Step 3 – Assisted One Arm Pull Up / Chin Up

You think side to side pull up is tough? Well get ready for assisted one arm chins. This is an extremely challenging variation that will prepare you to perform a complete one arm chin up. In this variation you perform a one arm chin up except that you use your non working hand for assistance. There are several different ways to use your non working hand for assistance. You can use one or two fingers of your non working hand on the pull up bar to assist you. By only using one or two fingers it ensures that your assisting hand is only helping so much. Another option is to drape a towel over the pull up bar. Your assisting hand grabs the towel to assist. The lower you grab the towel the harder it is.

Bonus – One Arm Chin Up

If you are a physical bad ass you can attempt the one arm chin up. This is performed with only one arm. Your non working hand is not allowed to assist whatsoever. Grabbing your arm with your non working hand is cheating and doesn’t count. This should give you an idea of how hard the one arm chin up is to perform. I have only performed this feat a few times in my life.

This is the end of the article series. If you want to check the previous two articles where we discussed the basics of bodyweight progression and showed it on the push up, just go here:

Bodyweight Training Part 1
Bodyweight Training Part 2

That is really.

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About Gregory O'Gallagher

Greg is a guest blogger for Muscle Pyramid. He is a fitness enthusiast and believer in doing things differently than what conventional fitness community dictates. He loves bodyweight training and teaches advanced methods to build a lean "Hollywood look". You can check him out at KinoBody Fitness Systems and also get his free Greek God Workout Manual here.