How I Reached a 41 kg / 90 lbs Weighted Chin-up skinny brahs series

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photo by: Mojpe

Many people think that I am a skinny loser who never trains and spends most of his time torturing vodoo dolls representing unnatural bodybuilders and juicing fitness models.

Sorry, but that’s not entirely true.

I am skinny, but I still lift.


Also, I don’t own any dolls…yet.

My most recent accomplishment is a 41 kg / 90 lbs weighted chin-up.

I did it in January at the fragile bodyweight of 70 kg / 155 lbs bodyweight.

In before Mark Rippetoe followers will get mad when they see those numbers.

Adult male under 200 lbs?

Are you in a comatose or a progressive transvestite, writes Mr. Permabulker while introducing yet another bomb of estrogen to his body in the form of milk.

Here’s the plan I followed to get there.

In March 2015, I started doing weighted pull-ups and dips as my exclusive upper body exercises.

At the time, I was capable of performing about 10-11 consecutive bodyweight pull-ups on a homemade suspension system. I always do my pull-ups on rings or a homemade suspension system because there’s less stress on the elbows and wrists.

The plan was simple:

  • work up to a heavy triple;

  • add weight each week;

  • construct 8-9 weeks long cycles;

  • reduce the weight when pulling yourself upwards becomes an impossibility;

  • build back up again to a new personal best;

Below is my first weighted pull-up/chin-up workout. I took it straight out of my lifting log in Notepad:

5  #5 means that I did 5 regular bodyweight only pull-ups;
5+5  #5+5 means that I did 5 pull-ups with 5 extra kilograms, which equal 11 lbs;
5+10
5+15
3+17.5 / (38 lbs)

Each week, I was adding between 1 kg / 2.2 lbs to 1.5 kg / 3.3 lbs to the final set.

This method worked until I failed to do three reps with 27 kg / 59 lbs. I only got two reps.

I restarted the cycle with a top set of 20 kg / 44 lbs for 5 reps.

The first workout of the new cycle looked like that:

5
5+6,5 kg / 14.3 lbs
5+11,5 kg / 25 lbs
5+16,5 kg
5+20 kg / 44 lbs
1+20 kg / 44 lbs

In 8-9 weeks, I stalled again at 30 kg / 66 lbs for two reps. Nevertheless, this was a 3 kg / 6.6 lbs improvement.

Naturally, I started a new cycle with a top set of 22.5 kg / 50 lbs.

That new cycle got me to 33 kg / 72,6 lbs for two reps.

Below is the last workout of that cycle:

5
5+5
10+3
2+15
1+21
2+33 – the most epic grinders I have ever done (I’ve written that in the log.)
1+33

Can you guess what happened next?

I started another cycle and used 22,5 kg / 50 lbs for my top set. I didn’t add weight this time because the previous cycle had been too hard. Besides, I wanted the first week to be easier than usual.

The new cycle got me to 35.5 kg / 78 lbs for two reps in two months or so.

Next? I began a new cycle with 25 kg / 55lbs.

This cycle got me to 37.5 reps for one rep. I was planning to do two or three reps but failed – a bad move. I don’t recommend going to failure. It’s pointless.

I restarted the cycle with 25 kg / 55lbs as a top set.

In about 8-9 weeks, I got to a 41 kg / 90 lbs chin-up for 1 repetition done with surprisingly good technique. I think I had two in me, but you don’t really know unless you try. I didn’t.

image by: kaboompics

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Summary of the principles

High intensity

I am pretty sure that most people would stop reading the whole post when they see the low number of sets. I understand that the volume I did was extremely low by anyone’s standards, but there is a reason for that. Actually two reasons.

Number 1 – Altering high intensity with high volume is fun.

Let me explain…

During the first phase of your training plan, you do very few sets but make sure they are heavy.

You do that until the plan stops working or your system tells you to stop, whichever comes first.

When that happens you switch to a high volume plan in order to give your body and mind a rest in the form of a new stimulus.

I am currently in the second phase of my plan and perform high-volume weighted pull-ups. I do numerous sets with a weight that allows me to perform 5-7 reps in a row with good form. Currently, the weight I use is 21,5 kg / 47 lbs.

When it comes to pull-ups I prefer to do ladders: 1 rep, 2 reps, 3 reps, 4 reps…1 rep…

This method allows you to reach some incredible volume/tonnage per workout.

My goal is to reach a ladder workout that looks like that 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7…

When that happens I will add more weight or test my 2-3 rep max.

Number 2 – High-intensity training saves you time, focuses on the fast twitch fibers and allows you to write books.

Frequency

I do weighted pull-ups only once a week because they put too much stress on the biceps tendons. Some people may add a light day, but unless I am trying to improve my technique, I don’t care about light days. The real progress comes from the heavier sets anyway.

Long Rest Between Sets

Similar routines cannot work with 1 or 2 minutes of rest between sets. You just cannot recover. I sometimes need at least 5 or even 7 minutes. You can use the time to play on your iFone.

poker-training-cycles-1

Cycling – Be a winning Gambler

Cycling is nothing but prepared failing. Nothing continues forever without change.

Winning streaks always come to an end and so do losing streaks.

The goal of cycling is to plan your failures yourself.

Instead of expecting to always win, you plan the day you lose. That’s what winners do.

In short, you are a poker player who knows when it’s time to stop playing, cash in and begin again after some rest.

In the lifting world, this means that you have to be conservative with your expectations and deload (reduce the weight and begin over again) when it’s necessary.

A winner’s cycle looks like this:

Part 1

Workout 1: 100; easy;
Workout 2: 120; easy;
Workout 3: 130; easy;
Workout 4: 140; easy;
Workout 5: 150; Gravity is now talking to me.
Workout 6: 160; Gravity is screaming at me.
Workout 7: 170; Pretty hard. I better stop before I become gravity’s little bitch.

Part 2

Workout 1: 120; easy;

Workout 7: 180 – PR;

A loser’s cycle looks like this:

Workout 1: 100; super easy;
Workout 2: 120; super easy;
Workout 3: 130; easy;
Workout 4: 140; easy;
Workout 5: 150; medium;
Workout 6: 160; medium;
Workout 7: 170 – Weight feels heavy as hell, but I am going to continue anyway. Bitches you better be ready for me. Records are coming.

Workout 8: 180 – My left knee cave in a little bit and my elbow hurts more than before but fuck it!!!!!!!!!

#how-bad-do-you-want-it

Workout 9: 190 – Both knees are caving , but I got up anyway.

#pain-is-a-weakness-leaving-the-body

Workout 10: 200 – felt insanely heavy; saw the white tunnel; knees, lower back and elbows hurt like hell but fuck it!!!!!! I am going to wrap those suckers and go for 210 on Friday.

#yeahbaby
#light-weights-are-for-losers
#wrapping-is-for-winners

Workout 11: 210 – Almost did it. Knee hurts like a bitch. Can’t walk. Elbows feel abused. Will try one more time.

#nevergiveup
#never-put-a-condom-on

Workout 12: 210 – Got up, but the pain is getting insane. My hip started shaking like an uncontrollable belly dancer. Going for 220.

#you-make-your-own-genetics
#win-or-die

Workout 13: 220 – Fail. I barely got to the gym. That’s how intense the pain was. I won’t give up anyway.

#ibuprofen-is-for-winners

Workout 14: 220 – Fail. Fuck it. This Earth is nor fair.

#cannot-kill-mydesire-to-concur-you-bitches

Workout 15: The doctor says I will have to take two months off due to massive inflammation in my joints.

#all-doctors-are-undercover-fags

I will rest for three days and try again.

….

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

….

Small Jumps

Obviously, the weighted pull-up progresses slowly because it involves many small muscles. It’s neither a squat nor a deadlift. I started with 17.5 kg / 38 lbs and needed about 10 months to reach 41 kg / 90 lbs. The biggest jumps I did were 1.5 kg / 3.3 lb, which may seem like a feather but is about 9% of my starting weight.

Nothing special

There’s nothing special about this plan other than the fact that it worked.

It wasn’t fast, but can I really complain?

The pull-up workout was done once a week and took about an hour. When you think about it, it’s a pretty good return on investment.

71 comments

  1. Borel Nicolas

    Same approach in your book, right ? I definitely should try to do the same, although adding weight each workout still works pretty find for me.
    But I know sooner or later, it won’t.

    1. Truth Seeker

      Yes. The first part of the plan is simple cycling. I will report how well the second part of the plan (high volume) works. My goal is to reach 50 kg/ 110 lbs.

  2. Bishca

    Nice man. I love doubles and triples for weighted pullups. Not so great at reps though. My PB is 42.5kg for a triple at 65kg bodyweight. But I’d be lucky to get 15 bodyweight in a row. I’m hoping to hit 50kg too 🙂 Race ya!

    1. Truth Seeker

      I was the same way the last 10 months. Some say that it has something to do with higher fast twitch fiber distribution in the upper body, but I have a simpler explanation – you get good at what you do. If you were focusing on reps, you will be good at them.

    2. Yavor Grancharov

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vo7PD_9m9NQ

      Hi guys, here is a link to my personal best weighted pull-up set.
      I allways do 5 reps on weach set and workout session, never tryed 2 or 3 but i am considering to. Here is a stamina protocol I made, it is made of 8 sets, and rest intervals between sets are exactly 90sec. I start the 1st set with 40kg x 5, and its my maximum now, then I go with 35×5/30×5/27,5x5x2/20×5/17,5x5x2.

  3. Zy Supra

    Post your physique before you die please.

    Would be a great way to end off this Natty or Not series in the distant future.

  4. Robert

    Great article as usual!
    Hope you will open many more eyes regarding how the muscle game, the industry and the world works.
    I still fight hard not being a whore to training anymore…less is more they say and it seems to be true.

    Great book by the way, currently enjoying the second time reading it.

    Have a good one!

    1. Truth Seeker

      Thank you for the support. This and another comment from yesterday have to be the best compliments I have received in the past 8 years.

  5. Brett

    Is it possible for a natural bodybuilder to get 16.5 inch arms (42cm). Mine are 40 cm and im 6 ft with 17 inch wrists. My arms havent grown since 2014 when i got them to 40, ive been lifting for more than ten years so i was wondering if ive reached my genetic potential or if it is possible for me to get to 16.5 inches cold.

    1. Truth Seeker

      Bro, you already have pretty big arms at 40 cm. Just live your life. Those 2cm matter only in your head.

    2. d0m

      Yeah 16.5 inches is definitely possible. My brother has never lifted in his life and has 16.5 inches (exactly, srlsy). A good amount of it is fat, but still. Mine are a bit over 15 inches and i consider them small, working on it though. I am a relatively small guy at 5’8″, so i have naturally smaller arms than bigger guys like my bro (he is more like 6ft).

  6. fanboi

    Quick question.

    After your first workout you say that you added 1-1.5kg to the final set. Does this mean that until you stalled you added weight only at your final set and your workout didn’t change?

    For example :

    w1
    5
    5+5
    5+10
    5+15
    3+17.5

    w2
    5
    5+5
    5+10
    5+15
    3+20

    w3
    5
    5+5
    5+10
    5+15
    3+22.5

    and so on…

    Also, where can I find more resources on this progression model to help me understand it better?

    Thanks in advance.

  7. xx69bicepsbrah69xx

    i waited for the right chance to comment , i started doing weighted chinups and weight dips right after i saw your article about them ( mid 2015 ) since than i have achieved a two bodyweight weighted chinup at the body weight of 55kg ( im 165 cm ) and a weighted dip with the same weight , i can say with full confidence that that specific article helped get into this world of training , you also got me to start training lower body seriously

    1. Truth Seeker

      Thanks for the support. Those are some serious numbers. I guess you are talking about the old articles.

  8. Konan

    Congratulation man i stuck on 23,75kg x 3. But i did warm up about 5pull ups
    then 5pull ups with 10kg added
    then 3 sets of 3reps with 23,75kg
    What do u think why i stuck i tried to renew my session when i couldnt hit 3×3 but i feel like i dont get stronger i think i will give a try your program and will see. I have shoulder pain some maybe its the reason two

      1. sLaYeR

        What’s your opinion about this workout?
        2 or 3 sets for warm up or light preparatory work
        1 set with the max.
        1 set with 10% less weight than max.
        1 set with 15% less weight than max.

        By the way, if you don’t take the estrogen bomb with milk, where do you get your calcium requirements?

  9. Robert

    @sLaYeR:
    I guess you speculate about an RPT style setup, right?
    I plan doing this too, the top set in the 2-6 range first and then a backup set with 6-12 reps (depending on the exercise) as a back off. I think this should work, simple and no need to stay away too much from either intensity or volume too much.

    What’s your thought mister Thruth Seeker 😉

  10. Mark

    What’s your chin up rep count with just bodyweight? I’m intrigued to know if it’s improved, or if you even cared to try.

  11. Sina

    an interesting approach to progressive overload. what do you think about it : starting with X weight for 3×4 build up to 3×7-8 then add weight and start again with 3×4 ?

    1. Truth Seeker

      Could be natty. It’s not impossible. But many natties will not get to his level regardless. Sick strength.

      1. Jason Bleha

        Sickening strength brah, I love you long tine plis gimme ze thing i’ve been asking for

        #howbadoiwantit?

  12. V_man

    Hi Truth Seeker,

    I’ve been doing weighted chin ups on and off for about 2 years now. Started doing them consistently in summer 2015 too, and got up to about 4 reps with 33kg at the body weight 72 kg and height 1.88m.

    However I had to stop, due to consistently developing a sense of tightness / restriction and some pain in between the shoulder blades and also on “top” of the shoulder joint (probably acromion and rotator cuff area). Even now, 3 months later, I develop discomfort when I attempt to do pull ups with small extra weight… I am just wondering if you had any of these problems? Any ideas as to what is causing this “tightness”?

    1. Truth Seeker

      I’ve never had this problem. You have to figure out whether this tightness is an injury like phenomenon or simply a side effect of working hard.

  13. tomaz

    Hey Truth Seeker.

    Congrats on a GREAAAT book! I have read half of it in one piece and will finish it off in the next few days, but I can already I LOVE IT! 🙂

    One question, how did you body change while doing only chins and dips? I found one site where this guy does only this and swears his body is better looking then when he also did bench, row, lateral raises etc.. But hesitate to do only those two and I still do other chest, back, biceps and triceps exercises, although 95 % of the time only compound ones (one arm row, bench press, close grip BP etc..)

    So should one focus only on those two exercises or better to include some other too?

    thanks for reply and hope you wrote some more books in the future! 🙂

    1. Truth Seeker

      Thanks for the support.

      To be honest, I don’t think I gained any muscle doing this routine.

      I don’t see a problem with adding other exercises. It’s not like you are going to “kill the magic” by adding other movements. Choose them according to your needs and preferences.

      Thank you for buying the book.

      1. fucboi

        Do you do any additional work for your posture? My guess is that just doing dips+pull-ups would get your shoulders rounded, considering the dips (that only work the front muscles, that round the shoulders) and that the lats are the main movers in the second exercise and their attachment point to the shoulder adds on to the rounding. However I may be wrong. Anyone elses opinion here too?

        1. Truth Seeker

          No, I don’t. I am not afraid of any muscle imbalances. Also, I do believe the real posture problems come from weak upper spinal erectors rather than the lack of rear delt raises and horizontal rowing. Moreover, posture is a habit.

  14. Mike

    Glad you are back!!
    Your posts about not being the golden boy of the gym/fitness (or in general in life) kept me going trough the rough times with the iron.
    Thanks dude!!!

  15. Sina

    Hi again
    in this article : http://nattyornot.com/frequency-training-natural-bodybuilders-gym-rats/ .
    you said this : If you are a natural bodybuilder, training a body part once a week is not effective. The evidence for that is that if you train a muscle once every seven days, you are super sore after every workout. This means only one thing – the rest between your workouts has been too long and there was enough time for ‘deadaptation’ to occur.
    so now which Frequency is better for major lifts ?

    1. Truth Seeker

      If I wanted to be optimal and get faster results, I would probably train more often. But I am somewhat happy with the results I get from once a week training, and thus don’t overcomplicate stuff. However, I know that if I add more work in an intelligent way, I would progress faster.

  16. tomaz

    What I would like to know is how did you body improve doing only chins and dips? Some people swear by it and only do this and others say for hypertrophy you need to include bench, row and some isolation etc. Since you tested it on yourself what can you say about that? Is it enough to do only those two for upper body hypertrophy or not?

    thanks!

  17. m.

    Wish you some sales, although it is disappointing to write for the reader that equals the quality of the comments of your blog(and in general almost all of the internet), the little cash it produces might decide for you that ego, intellectual prowess, skill, thinking and doing is not an object seen in a mirror. Who needs a mirror, it is part of self-discipline to measure oneself not to most, but to the anomalistic, freakey exceptions one chooses.
    The collective can only be seduced by the most common denominator, in bb – alias body-building, fitness, that is the juicer-spritzer-bloater, an extreme form of consumerism, passive absorbtion.

  18. dmitry

    Patience is a virtue.

    Thanks TruthSeeker.

    ps.
    With your permission, can I copy some of your articles and paste it in at other website?

  19. Glen

    Awsome!!!
    Very inspiring!!!

    I think the main thing with this natty stuff is keeping it simple, working hard, abbriviated, and managing calorie intake to keep the weight down. Plus managing expectations such not to get all caught up in the hoopla of the fitness industry.

    I don’t fuck with supplements, excessive cumulative training or diet habits, or unsafe exercises, any more.

  20. Alvaro

    I’m not so sure if cycling is really worth, I’m able to do 3 sets of pull ups, of 5 reps each, with a burden of 40 kilos. I’m 2’00 tall and weight 100 kg with visible abs (natural), I have emailed with you sometimes. From my point of view the most important thing is just keep going, a LOT of time, there are no shorcuts. But if you don’t stress your body till its limits, you are not improving at all, because of that, deloading can be counterproductive in some ocassions, you need to keep the signal of “oh shit, I really need more strenght and muscle!” activated very often, I woul even add to train pull ups and dips 3 times a day, that is how I got the best results, from my point of view of 6 years training and trying absolutly everything. Congrats for your book, I really enjoyed it because we see eye to eye in many things.

    1. Truth Seeker

      Thank you for sharing what works for you. I know that this method is not the only way, but I like it.

      I am happy that you enjoyed the book. Thank you for buying it.

  21. Jason Blaha

    Did you get to this lift naturally? Very impressive either way just curious.

    Natty or not Author – Natty or not?

  22. Alex

    I’m just curious, did you reach it before and now you just built up to it again? I’ve gone up to 35 kg for 1 rep a few years ago when I started training (was doing low reps) and now I’m doing 30 kg for 12 reps but I can’t pull over 55 kg for 1 rep. Probably if I trained with low reps for a while I could pull more? I’m only training with high reps because it takes less to recover and having strength endurance helps a lot with my job.

  23. Gev

    I weigh around 160 lbs, and I am also doing weighted pull ups with 90 pounds now. I started with 45 pounds in January of 2016. I did that with around 8 reps. I finally reached 90 pounds early July! I get 6-8 reps with it. I do weighed pull ups twice a week. I do my first set with 90 pounds and, in the following sets, decrease the weight by 5 pounds until I get to 45 pounds.

  24. Heyward Boyce

    Have you tried doing this for a weighted PUSHup?
    I could devise my own, but curious to see how you’d program it.

  25. Victor

    Hi there, I got up to 40kg for 2 reps in 6 months. Started being able to do 5-10kg.
    I did reverse pyramid style.
    After body weight warmup (5-10 reps),
    1) Start with max weightt you can do for 5 reps.
    2) then reduce weight and do 8,
    3) then reduce and do 10-12.
    4) thats all, but u can continue doing a few more body weight sets for volume, or just lat pulldowns.

    Done.

  26. sylvain

    Hello,

    Thanks for your blog, very interesting stuff.

    Just a quick question, did you notice a change in your body’s apperance or did you just just get stronger without any noticeable change physically?

    I would guess your body got a little bit thicker at least since it has to adpat to heavier loads.

    Thanks for your answer

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