chin-ups and dips program for mass

What would you say if I told you that there are two exercises that will add more size to your chest, back, shoulders, and arms?

What if I told you that these two exercises have been around since the dawn of training but men have mostly ignored them?

You would probably think it sounds like the standard, fake hustle “results in 30 days” fitness pitch but you would be wrong.

What I am about to tell you is 100% true:  you can use chin-ups and dips to build more mass on your upper body.

Prioritizing Chins and Dips

Because of the microwave culture in today’s get fit quick society, most lifters do not want to put in the hard, consistent effort required to build the statuesque body that they want.

For example many men desire to have a muscular and ripped upper body but the problem is that many of these same men attempt to try to take the easy way out to achieve that goal.

Lame workout design, using too many machines, too much training volume, and avoiding anything hard are the 4 biggest causes for a lack of results.

The typical meathead International Chest Monday routine looks just like this:

• Wasting time in the “cardio” section before the workout

• Flat bench press 5×10 and added drop sets and a lame, heavily spotted “max out” on the last set

• Texting during the workout

• Incline press machine 4×10 with forced reps

• Chasing pie during the workout

• Cable crossover 3×15

• Watching the game during the workout

• Pec-dec fly 3×20

• Taking selfies during the workout

• Machine dips 3×15

In reality the above program is a total disaster and the complete opposite of what you need to do.

Using all of these exercises in the same workout with a ridiculous amount of volume is definitely not the answer for building a complete upper body.

When you add in way too many drop sets and then forced reps into oblivion, you have the recipe for an absolute abomination!  As a result you will not build a muscular body training in this haphazard fashion.

I have known many men who perform this routine weekly but have nothing except a flat, unsculpted chest to show for it.

The crazy part about this scenario is that despite the lack of progress, these men will still continue to do this “workout” for years hoping for a different result.

Success Leaves Clues

I love to study other disciplines in the world of athletics because every sport has a body part that stands out due to the training used in that field.

Sprinters have the greatest hamstrings and glutes on the planet while some speed skaters and sprint cyclists have dem quads that put some bodybuilders to shame.

When you think of the upper body, you must look to male gymnasts.

I watched a lot of gymnastics during the 2012 Olympic Games and I was highly impressed by not only their performances but also their level of muscular development in the upper body.  They look like superheroes up top.

These guys are doing a lot of upper body pushing and pulling.  They are primarily doing a great amount of advanced chinning and dipping variations utilizing not only the parallel bars but also the rings.

While we won’t be training to be professional gymnasts, we can borrow from them.  In other words if doing chin-ups and dips works for these gymnasts, why can they not work for you?


Chin-ups and dips have always been a staple of my training but in the past, they were just a cheap add-on at the end of a training session.

I was majoring in the minors at this time because many of the movements I would do instead of chin-ups and dips were lower on the iron food chain.

A new thought popped into my brain in early 2013: what if I dedicated a separate day to only chins and dips?

The mere thought of doing this had me fired up like Ray Lewis during a pre-game speech.

The results from putting a priority on a chin-ups and dips program for mass were astounding.

Performing a chins and dips workout on a separate day eventually led me to develop a thicker and more muscular upper body.

Specifically hitting chin-ups and dips for a few weeks using heavier weights offset with hitting them for a few weeks of high volume training definitely forced me to grow.

A bigger chest, a much wider back, and larger arms were all as a result of this programming change.

In the meantime I also noticed that as my chins and dips became stronger, my other pressing and pulling moves were getting stronger too.

During the peak of the time when I ran this program I was doing dumbbell flat presses with the 100lb dumbbells.

I also was pulling 225lbs in the barbell row all at a bodyweight of 165lbs.

Fake Hustle Fads Have No Value

A lot of phony fads in the iron game today promise you some unbelievable results in a very limited block of time.  You will hear bogus claims like:

• 4 weeks to 6 pack abs!

• 30 days to a massive chest!

• 21 day big booty blast!

• 28 day flat belly tea!

These ads can entice people because many people want to really believe that building a great physique is an overnight process.

Think about this, if it took you many years of inactivity to get into horrendous shape, how is it possible to turn it around overnight?

It’s not.  None of these promises ever come true due to the fact that they are just bad gimmicks like Doink The Clown and the Repo Man.

I do not stand for the fake hustle because real results require time and a consistent, quality effort.

All I will promise you is this.  If you consistently follow my chin-ups and dips workout for mass, you will have a stronger and more muscular upper body at the end of 18 weeks.

If you eat accordingly and also get good sleep you will get even better results.

Chin-Ups and Dips Workout Program For Mass

The most important components in determining whether a training program will work is your belief in the program and how consistent you are with training.

All set and rep schemes work, but if a lifter does not believe in the program or skips too many workouts, they will not get the big-time results they expected.

My 18 week chin-ups and dips program for mass (CD-18) will be performed as a separate day each week.

During these 18 weeks you will add more muscle mass to your chest, back, shoulders, and arms.  This is a meathead’s dream.

In total, there will be 3 upper body lifting days, 1 lower body lifting day, and 1 day of sprinting.

Although this program is purposely unbalanced you still have one legit lower body lifting day and two days of post-workout sprinting.

Remember our main goal during this program is to specialize on building your upper body.

Everything cannot be specialized on at once.  Your training during the week will look like this:

Sunday: Off
Monday: Chin-Ups and Dips Workout For Mass
Tuesday: Lower Body
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Upper Body 1 and Sprinting
Friday: Off
Saturday: Upper Body 2 and Sprinting

Note:  You can download my comprehensive guide on sprinting below.  You will learn everything you need to know about how to add sprinting to your workouts.

Use Speed To Get Lean! The Sprinting Handbook For Lifters

CD-18 Programchin ups and dips program for mass

First, you have to accept the fact that progressive overload is a very important key to making great gains.

You are not doing all of the advanced and difficult movements that gymnasts perform daily.  As a result your challenge has to be adding more weight, doing more reps, or working faster.

Secondly, this means that you will need to purchase a dip belt in order to do weighted chin-ups and dips so go order it now.

Once you can complete the whole workout without a missed rep, it’s time to move up in weight.

Doing bodyweight dips for 3 x 10 for three weeks when you have already completed the series without a missed rep is the definition of sloth.

When you are a lifter who is too comfortable with their workout, your progress will stop cold.

You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and this means looking for ways to make your workout slightly more difficult each time you are in the gym.

In other words, you do not want to be stagnant like the typical, run of the mill lifter who is always afraid to challenge themselves.  In order to have success, you have to face struggles.

Before you get into the program please check out my videos on how to properly do chin-ups and dips.

Check out my chin-ups and dips program for mass below:

Weeks 1-3 (RP-21 Training System)
Chin-Ups SS Dips 7×3
• rest 45 seconds between exercises
• rest 75 seconds between sets
Chin-Ups SS Dips 6×5
• rest 30 seconds between exercises
• rest 60 seconds between sets

Weeks 4-6 (8×8)
Chin-Ups SS Dips 8×8
• rest 30-60 seconds between exercises
• rest 75-90 seconds between sets

Weeks 7-9 (5×5 Plus)
Chin-Ups SS Dips 5×5
• rest 60 seconds between exercises
• rest 2 minutes between sets
Chin-Ups SS Dips 2×10
• rest 60 seconds between exercises
• rest 2 minutes between sets

Weeks 10-12 (RP-21 Training System)
• during weeks 10-12 you will repeat weeks 1-3 with added weight and/or intensity techniques like pause reps or 1 and 1/4 reps.

Weeks 13-15 (8×8)
• during weeks 13-15 you will repeat weeks 4-6 with added weight or intensity techniques like pause reps or 1 and 1/4 reps.

Weeks 14-16 (5×5)
• during weeks 14-16 you will repeat weeks 7-9 with added weight or intensity techniques like pause reps or 1 and 1/4 reps.

Lower Body Workouts

Weeks 1-3
Squat SS GHR 7×3
Dumbbell Walking Lunges SS Barbell Hip Extension 6×5 (10 lunges total)
Seated Calf Raises 5×10

Weeks 4-6
Barbell Reverse Lunges SS GHR 8×8
Standing Calf Raises 8×8

Weeks 7-9
Trap Bar Deadlift SS GHR 5×5
Barbell Hip Thrust SS Barbell Hack Squat 3×10
Seated Calf Raises 5×10

Upper Body Workout 1

Weeks 1-3
Incline Bench Press SS Neutral Grip Pull-Ups 7×3
Flat Dumbbell Bench Press SS T-Bar Rows 6×5
Push-Ups SS Prone Rows 2 x failure

Weeks 4-6
Barbell Neck Press SS Barbell Rows 8×8
EZ Bar Skullcrushers SS Incline Dumbbell Curls 4×8
Reverse Wrist Curls SS Heavy Dumbbell Holds 4×8 and 30 seconds

Weeks 7-9
Incline Bench Press w/pause SS Pull-Ups 5×5
Decline Dumbbell Bench Press SS One-Arm Rows 3×10
Lateral Raises SS Rear Delt Raises 5×10

Upper Body Workout 2

Weeks 1-3
Overhead Press SS Pull-Ups 7×3
Decline Dumbbell Tight Press SS EZ Bar Curls 6×5
Seated Lateral Raises SS Seated Rear Delt Raises 4×12

Weeks 4-6
Seated Dumbbell Press SS Lateral Raises 8×8
Decline Dumbbell Skullcrushers SS Seated Dumbbell Curls 4×8
Reverse Wrist Curls SS Heavy Dumbbell Holds 4×8 and 30 seconds

Weeks 7-9
Push Press SS Neutral Grip Pull-Ups 5×5
Close Grip Bench Press SS Preacher Curls 3×10
Incline Lateral Raises SS Prone Rear Delt Raises 3×12


• In weeks 10-16, you will repeat these workouts in the same fashion as you would the chin-ups and dips workout for mass. The rest periods during these workouts will also be the same.

• You can deload every on every 4th week to keep your body fresh for the long run.

• SS denotes Superset

• Rest between 30-60 seconds between the moves and and 60-120 seconds between sets.

Sprinting Workouts

Note: Do not begin sprinting without going through a proper sprinter-warm up.

Weeks 1-3
3 x 30 meters
3 x 30 meter flys
1 x 100 meters
• the short sprinting reps (30m) should be performed at 90 percent of your maximum speed
• the medium sprinting rep (100m) should be performed at 80-85 percent of your maximum speed.
• rest is the walk back

Weeks 4-6
2 x 80 meters, 2 x 100 meters, 2 x 120 meters
• perform all of the reps at one distance before moving up
• reps should be performed at 85-90 percent of your maximum speed
• rest is the walk back

Weeks 7-9
1 x 300 meters, 200 meters, 150 meters
• reps should be performed at 85-90 percent of your maximum speed
• the rest is the walk back


• You can learn about how to add sprinting to your workout program in this article.

• For more sprinting workouts, you can purchase my groundbreaking eBook, Use Speed To Get Lean! The Sprinting Handbook For Lifters.


With my chin-ups and dips workout program for mass, all you need to do is simply record your weights/reps/rest during the workout and absolutely stay committed to the program.

Ishmael Reed, who is featured in the images of this article, used my chin-ups and dips program for mass multiple times during the 18 months he was directly trained by me.

He transformed his entire body and even placed 2nd in the Mr. Natural Philadelphia Over 40 Division in 2015.

If you train hard and consistent enough, you can eventually develop that superhero upper body.  It’s possible.

I’ll holla at you next time.
The People’s Trainer,

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21 Comments. Leave new

  • Hey Coach!
    I noticed the sets/reps for chins and dips have changed since I saw this on Muscle & Strength years ago. Do you feel the new arrangement is more effective for building mass?

    • Frank,

      I’ve used both programs, and they are both great for building muscle mass and strength.

      The difference between the programs is the overall training volume.

      In the original program we rotated 5 x 5, 5 x 10, and RP-21 for the 18 weeks.

      In this updated program we rotate RP-21, 8 x 8, and 5 x 5 Plus for the 18 weeks. There is a bit more training volume in this updated program.

      Thanks for the question!

  • Hi Fitman, I’ve completed weeks 1-6 of the program and on week 7 now. I was wondering if I should do a deload week, and what some sample deloads would look like?


    • Jo,

      I like to deload every 4th week, but deloads are very individual. They can vary based on the lifter or the athlete.

      Deload workouts are pretty simple to program in comparison to a standard, 3-week training phase. Your main goal during the deload is to reduce your overall training volume so that your nervous system and body can recover for the next phase.

      A sample deload week could look like this:

      Sunday: OFF

      Monday: Upper Body (plus calves)
      -choose 2-4 upper body exercises and do 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps per exercise
      -you can use supersets
      Tuesday: OFF
      Wednesday: Lower Body (plus calves)
      -choose 2-4 lower body exercises and do 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps per exercise
      -you can use supersets
      Thursday: OFF
      Friday: Sprinting
      -you would use tempo runs to allow your nervous system to recover from the previous weeks of sprinting
      -you could do 10 x 100m at 75 percent speed with a 30-60 rest between reps
      Saturday: OFF

      Keep moving forward with the program continue to make great progress.

  • I love the program! I work a rotating shift schedule so an upper lower upper lower split is the most I can do. 30 minutes or less I ideally. Any tips on programming for this
    . Love the web site Thanks

    • David,

      Thanks for reading my article I appreciate it. I’m glad you love the program.

      The chin-ups and dips workouts should all take less than 30 minutes as they are currently constructed.

      The lower body workouts will take a bit longer. You could reduce the volume on those days to get the job done in 30 minutes.

      For example, you could turn 7 x 3 into 4 x 3 and 6 x 5 into 3 x 5. You could also turn 8 x 8 into 4-6 x 8 and 5 x 5 into 3 x 5 and apply the same concept on the other upper body days if you are pressed for time.

  • What is a good way to program this if I only have access to the equipment for weighted dips and chins? Thanks!

    • Josh,

      See my previous answer to your question. That will answer your question.


  • I only have access to a pull-up/dip bar (no bench), how would I program this for mass since I can’t do upper body 1&2? Thanks!

    • Josh,

      If you only have access to a chin-up bar and a dipping bar, you could use the chins and dips workout twice in the week instead of once.

      That upper 1 session of chins and dips could look like this:

      Pause Chin-Ups SS Pause Dips 7×3
      • rest 45 seconds between exercises
      • rest 75 seconds between sets

      Pause Chin-Ups SS Pause Dips 6×5
      • rest 30 seconds between exercises
      • rest 60 seconds between sets

      All we did was add pauses to the movements to alter them slightly.

      For the upper 2 session you could do neutral grip chin-ups and push-ups but focus more on total volume instead of progressing with heavier weights. That session could look like:

      Neutral Grip Chin-Ups SS Push-Ups 10 x AMRAP

      I would leave at least one rep in the tank on each set so that you do not hit a serious wall early in the workout. You would record your total rep number and look to make improvements each week.

      Thanks for your question!

  • I’m training for the golden gloves and only want to do chins and dips Tue/Thur since I do my 60 min boxing training Mon Wend Fri.
    Any suggestion on how to structure the chin/dip workout for my purpose?
    I normally do sprints after boxing for 12 minutes total.

    • Josh,

      There are many ways a chin-ups and dips program could be structured for that purpose.

      In this scenario you could have one day of chins/dips be in the low rep range to focus on strength. The other day would be a bit higher in reps to focus more on muscle growth and conditioning.

      Here is an example program below:

      Day 1: Tuesday
      Weighted Chin-Ups SS Weighted Dips 3-4 x 3-5

      Day 2: Thursday
      Chin-Ups SS Dips 3-4 x 8-10 (add weight if you can)

      The volume in these workouts is low because I do not know the depth of your boxing workout. I would rather program less volume at the start and then slowly build it up over time if need be.

      Thanks for your question and I love the fact that you are sprinting. I hope you have success on your road to winning the golden gloves!

  • What’s the weekly frequency? Is the sample workout supposed to be done 2x a week?

    • I meant your pull-up and dip program*

    • Gio,

      You will do the specific chin-ups and dips workout 1x per week at the beginning of the week. The other upper body days involve other types of pressing and pulling movements.

      Sunday: Off
      Monday: Chin-Ups and Dips Workout For Mass
      Tuesday: Lower Body
      Wednesday: Off
      Thursday: Upper Body 1 and Sprinting
      Friday: Off
      Saturday: Upper Body 2 and Sprinting

      Thanks for reading!

  • Exercises are done respectively?
    So first I do 7×3 chin up, then 7×3 dip
    I also did not understand to rest for 45 seconds
    I know English little, but I don’t understand the summer much

    • 1) The exercises in this program are done as a Superset (SS).
      2) You will do the chin-ups, rest 45 seconds, and then do the dip. That is 1 complete set.

      Thanks for your question!

      • Thanks for your answer.
        I will apply this routine to gain mass.
        I workout 2 days a week and I am a beginner.
        Another day, would push ups and inverted row exercises be appropriate?

        • There is a sample workout program within the article that details your other workouts for the week.

          Push-ups and other rowing variations are absolutely a part of the program.

          For gaining muscle mass you have to put a big emphasis on eating enough food, getting proper sleep, and keeping your stress levels low in order to maximize your muscular gains.


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