1. Great article Andy… Looks like I have found my session spot in progression module. Can currently perform 3 full fledged chin ups now. Should I start with session 1 or from where I can match the actual bodyweight reps that I can do independent of any assistance. Also what do you recommend to be ideal resting time between interval sessions and then between session themselves…. Considering that I have to appear in a test around same time next month with minimum qualifying standard of 6 chin ups at least. I am working on reducing the weight reduction aspect of that already. Thanks

    1. Thanks Andy, but is it recommended to do a session daily, or you recommend a recovery time more than a day. Since these are the only exercises I am doing, apart from legs and back.
      Sorry for being crude in first part… Got my answer from earlier questions though. Thanks again.

    2. The sweet spot for training frequency of the same muscle group seems to be 2–3 times per week. I’d stick to three full body sessions spread over your week.

  2. Should we be going for max reps in all sets? Also, I can do 10 bw pull ups in my first set, 7 in 2nd, and 5 in 3rd. Can I start adding weight?

  3. Hello Andy, I do the GSLP program and workout two to three x per week. It consists of just basic compound lifts. I’m really focusing on getting my first unassisted chin up. I have an assistance band set and I have gotten a lot stronger with eccentric chin ups. I’m doing between 3-6 negatives with a 10-15 second eccentric lowering twice a week. Also within my two to three lifting sssions I’m doing inverted bodyweight rows/chins. I’m confused on how to incorporate it all (bands and negatives) in a weekly cohesive and progressive manner? Sort of have paralysis by analysis right now, please help!

  4. Hi Andy
    Since I saw this article I have progressed to 8,8,8,6 with bw using the body weight only progression. I seem to been stuck here. Have recently bought bands. So now will use the band progession. Aim to get 10 reps for 4 sets with be hopefully.

  5. Hi Andy!

    How should I integrate this progression with the Novice Bodybuilding Program?

    The Novice Bodybuilding Program has 2 sets of 8 reps for vertical pulls. When starting out on that, should I use a band the whole way through both sets so I can stick to 2×8 (7-8 RPE), or should I start with bodyweight and then use bands to complete the set, or should I do the 5×5 progression example above?

    Thanks for the great article!

    Apologies if this question has already been asked—comments stopped loading at #49.

    1. Use a band until you can perform 2×8 with just bodyweight. Don’t add band assistance throughout the set. As for 2*8 vs 5*5, either will work fine, so I’d just do what is written in the program.

  6. Thanks for this Andy, it’s a really comprehensive guide.

    I just went and gave it a go in the park, and I am following the 5×5 progression example.

    It went like this:

    Session 1: 1xBW, 5 x medium band, 3 x medium (failure), 1 x medium (failure), 5 x strong, 3 x strong (failure). Eccentric chin-up set.

    I set up all the bands at once, so when I couldn’t finish a set I went and finished on a band which offered more assistance.

    I’ll be keeping a notebook of my performance, but I was wondering should I always be aiming to complete 5 full pull ups and adjust the set accordingly. For example when I try this again in a couple of days I could set up like this to give myself the best chance of completing it:

    Session 2: 1xBW, 5 x medium band, 5 x medium, 5 x strong , 5 x strong, 5 x strong. Eccentric chin-up set.

    If you have advice on what to do when a set can’t be completed that would be really helpful.

    Thanks again for this guide!

  7. Hi Andy, thank you for an awesome guide.

    I wonder if you could comment on doing chins throughout the day – I’m sure you’ve heard about the advice/programs where you do a rep (or few) every time you pass by/under your bar.
    Does it help or hinder progress (I understand that progress can mean strength, size, or endurance).


    1. Personally, this isn’t something I’d recommend to clients or do myself. We have the training all planned out, which means we can measure the training load and stimulus, and adjust accordingly to get the response (progress) we’re after. With something like this, it could be too little or too much, and we’d have no way of measuring that and adjusting accordingly.

  8. Anubis Lockward

    Hmm…I try to hit 60 reps total and I do as many sets as I need to accomplish that, the goal is to try to do the 60 reps in less sets each session, until I can do 3 sets of 20 reps with Body Weight. (someday, hopefully)…is that too much? I do that for the chin-ups and pull-ups. I do that to gain enough strength doing them to start adding weight, I don’t want to start adding weight if I can’t do the exercise properly since I feel that’d be counter productive. I can do say, 1st set 10 reps, 2nd set 9 reps, 3rd 8 or 7 reps and so on, but I still can’t do 15 reps on my first set.

    Also, I do pull-ups on mondays, after my deadlifts, and I do chin-ups on fridays after my squats, is that ok? because I see that you suggest alternating exercises every two or three months.

    1. “…is that too much?”
      – If you are progressing then it’s not too much. However, if you’re asking me whether that is the optimal way of going your progression, then I’d say no, you’ll likely get a better result sticking to lower rep range sets like I have above. The rep ranges used don’t need to be different for chins than any other exercise.

    1. Hi Maestro, thanks for the question. – Be fancy when you need to be fancy to progress, never before.

      When you need fanciness though, I got you covered here.

  9. Andy, thanks for the outstanding information on your site. I’ve been progressing with my chin-ups and today, for the first time in my life, I got 5×5, all reps, no assistance….moving on to the RPT chin up progression now. Thanks for the knowledge and motivation! I owe you a beer in Japan.

  10. Hi Andy, congratulations for your articles, little to say they are a great inspiration for me. I’ve been following the Stronglifts 5×5 program for a couple of months and I’d like to add pullups/chinups starting with resistance bands until I’m strong enough to do body weight reps only. Although pull/chin aren’t in the SL5x5 core program they can be added as optional assistance exercise at the end of day B. The SL author says to do 3×10 with bands until I can do 25 reps total and then switch to BW only and then eventually to weighted reps. What do you think of this 3×10 approach compared to say, a 5×5 kind of progression as you described in this great article, considering it’s to be viewed as “assistance exercise”. Thank you very much. Keep up the great work.

    1. Matthew, thank you. Glad to read you’re finding them useful. The total volume is similar (5×5=25 vs 3×10=30), so it won’t make much of a difference which you go with.

  11. Lydia Thompson


    Thanks for this. I have been looking for a way to progress chin-ups for a beginner…I can currently do 2-3 chi-ups but it is hard to find program that target someone at my level. My question is. How many times per week should you do chin-ups. I have heard everything from do chins every day to only do them every 4-5 days. I should note that I am a 55 yr. old woman so not exactly your core audience! Thanks!

    1. Hi Lydia, the same principles still apply. Just use the lat pulldown machine, assisted machine, or bands to assist you as mentioned above.

  12. Hey it’s Kai,

    asked in May for advice on progressing with chin ups from obese to shreds. Started at 238, now I’m at 194. Chin ups are progressing well, but couldn’t obtain full 44 lbs. Just 27,5.

    Looking forward to add the remaining 14 lbs in til end of cut. Realistic though? The overall trend is positive: I’m progressing faster now. Whysoever..

    Just wanted to share my experience on progression from obese to shreds.

  13. Hi Andy, I haven’t seen you talk about micro loading (did a quick search with google).

    Generally speaking, and as an example, is it better to jump from 15kg to 16.25kg and climb from 8 to 10 reps (assuming reps drop 2 when increasing) over a few weeks of time, or increase the load in even smaller increments and try to stick to 10 reps as closely as possible? I’d guess micro loading in this way would also make reaching failure less likely.

    Curious to hear your opinion on this. Cheers!

    1. Hi Raine, thank you for the question.

      The purpose of using rep ranges (8-10 for example) instead of just a fixed rep target (10 for example) is to help bridge the difficulty gap when weights are increased. The minimum increase to weight that we can make without micro plates is 2.5kg (~5lbs), which for the experienced trainee is a large jump. If you have micro plates and can load in smaller increments (1/2 ~ 1/4) then the rep ranges become less important/redundant and you can just load linearly.

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