It has been almost one year since I started training for the One Arm Chinup (OAC). In the last year I have mercilessly chased this goal using several different methods. Isometrics, side-assisted OACs, using a pulley, you name it. With that came several different training frequencies. Since the nature of the OAC itself is extremely strenuous on the elbow and shoulder joint, there exists a delicate balance between progress and injury.
I had severe elbow tendinitis when I played baseball through high school and the pain still lingers if I push OACs too hard. With that in mind, my goal at the end of any single arm pulling session is to not get injured. But, at the same time, progress is slow when you’re paranoid about potential injury.
After experimenting with many workouts, methods, and frequencies – I think I have finally found one that works for me. For the first time since I started training, I can actually train the OAC specifically only five days apart.
Sounds like a ton of rest right?
Not really considering I work with high reps, odd grips, and weighted pullups in between sessions. Also, when I first started training for the OAC I could only train the movement once every two weeks.
So, how was I able to increase the frequency? The answer (for me) was simple: Implement singles and negatives.
Meaning instead of the typical sets of 2-4 reps per arm, I give it everything I’ve got for one single rep per set. A lot of my injuries would flare up when I would be hanging at the bottom of the movement in between reps. So, I cut out that pause and dumped everything into the quality of only a few single sets rather that the quantity of many 2-4 rep sets. Throwing in OAC negatives is an excellent way to build strength and balance on the bar, so I add a set of those in at the end- to make me feel more manly.
As of today, I’m getting so close I can taste it. I’m able to pull up with my right arm while giving little assistance from my left hand, which rests on my right shoulder.
Think of it this way: You have seen people do a “one arm chin up” while grasping the wrist of their pulling arm with their non-pulling hand, right? I have simply moved my non-pulling hand all the way down my arm to my shoulder. There is very little leverage available at the shoulder joint. When I get to the point of resting my non-pulling hand on my collar bone, there is zero leverage I can use – and it will be a legit OAC. I’m literally an inch away. But I need to be careful. If I get feeling too saucy, I’ll jack up my elbow and be forced to rest.
Patience needs to be the weapon of choice when on the brink of a victory.