• Q&A
  • July21st


    Weighted Chins

    I like them. I’m not voting for them in the next “Five Awesome Exercises” election but they certainly have their place. I’ve championed chin-ups for years, mostly    because they’re great for the upper back, lats, and arms. And because you can do them anywhere – chin-up bar, top of the  Smith machine, scaffolding, top of the monolift, playground equipment, etc.

    Weighted chins are a good idea IF you can do them, and even then you still need to keep bodyweight chins as part of your training (unless you can bang out multiple sets of 20 with good form). And  if that’s the case, gain some weight! Now of course there are people, usually some sort of Lifting Forum Queen, that would like to point to the VERY strong Konstantin Konstantinovs and tell me how wrong the prior statement is.  But you can’t use the exception to prove the rule.  And you just proved yourself to be unreliable and weak.

    If you want to add some weighted chins as part of your training repertoire, start light and see how you do. Make sure you use something that doesn’t allow the weight or dumbbell to swing too much when you do them. I recommend a good chin/dip belt or simply get a piece of chain and hang it from your lifting  belt.

    One day I’d do bodyweight chins for 50 or more total reps. The next chin-up day I’d do a couple sets of weighted chins, either multiple sets at a given weight (for example 5 sets of 6 reps with 45 lbs.) or work up to an  all-out set with the heaviest weight I can handle. Another great way to program chins is as follows:


    Day One – Weighted Chins

    • Warm-up and perform 5 sets of 3-5 reps.  All the work sets are done with weight. It can be the same weight or different weight.

    Day Two – Volume

    • On this day, you do multiple sets of low reps (for example, 20 sets of 5 reps).  Just do them between your sets.

    Day Three – 20%

    • On this day, do 3 sets of chins. The first set is done for max reps. Rest 5 minutes. The second set is done for 20% less than the first set (that is your goal, so don’t freak out if you don’t get it. It doesn’t mean you have AIDS or have some mythical “weak point”. Now rest again for 5 minutes.  Your third and final set will be done with a goal of doing 20% less than the second set.

    As much as I love doing chins, they’re still not squats, presses, cleans, and pulls. They’re great to do, but I’m not going to lose sleep if my strength on these goes up and my chinning strength remain stagnant.

    You can’t sleep with all the women in the sorority, so just be happy you got some trim.


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  • September17th


    How to Increase Volume of Assistance Work with 5/3/1

    There are two ways to do this.  The first way is to add in “big” assistance work such as SLDL, Deficit Deadlifts, Front Squats, Rack Pulls, SS Bar Squats (or any big movement).  You can use 5′s Progression or SST with any of these movements. When you add in the big assistance work, I’d start by dialing back your training maxes of your main lift to at least  90% of your max and don’t go for max reps. Just keep things ”even” with your heavy lifting. Don’t push everything that hard – keep the intensity up, but the volume  LOW. Remember that in training and in  life, there’s a balance to everything – a push and a pull. You push something into your training and something has to come out. In your case, you want to push up the volume of your assistance work to elicit greater gains in hypertrophy. Because of  this you have to pull something out.

    The second way to increase assistance work is to use small assistance work that is easy to recover from – in other words exercises such as dumbbell raises, lat movements, machine work and single joint exercises.  These exercises are not tracked for weight or records. Rather these movements are done with one goal in mind; to get a big pump. If you choose to this route, there is no need to adjust your TM as these movements and the way they are done should in NO way effect your main training. If they do, you are doing something wrong.


    The problem with the increase in assistance work is that everyone wants to have their cake and eat it  too. It doesn’t work like that – you can’t be strong like a powerlifter, fast as sprinter, and as big as a linebacker. Well, you can, but these people are so rare that teams pay them millions of dollars and television stations have billion dollar contracts to broadcast them to you. They’re called  professional football players, and if you’re one of them, you aren’t reading this, as you’re too busy counting your  money and cracking skulls.

    So if you want to increase the volume of your assistance work, follow the plans above and use your head. Also, less typing – more training and eating.