During weighted (and not weighted pull-ups and chin-ups) my forearm tires first and the most and I do not actually feel back and biceps at all. Does that mean my forearm is relatively weaker and I need to work on it separately to improve pull-ups/chin-ups (weight) overall?

my routine is described in other question

  • That might be a cause and consider the form too. Pulling with my elbow works on me.
    – Ker p pag
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 7:25
  • Listen to @Greg Mikolap and try using chalk. It will have a great effect on your forearm endurance during pull-ups.
    – Enivid
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 20:30

4 Answers 4


Yes, you can perform grip work as suggested by Alec. In the meantime consider using straps or at least chalk for hands to increase friction and combination of the two would improve your 'feel' in a given muscle. Consider as well is the weight that you are pulling too heavy for the goal you want to achieve? Regards

  • will the straps used for barbell help doing pull-ups?
    – Herokiller
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 3:17
  • I don't use straps but I'm pretty sure they are all the same, wrap them around the handles of a pull up same way as you wrap around the bar Commented May 22, 2015 at 6:41
  • They can. If you have a figure-8 style strap like "Why Our Way" straps then it supports your grip even with a smooth pull-up bar. Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 15:33

Yes. This is a normal problem to have, but one that is easily (but slowly) fixed by simply taking 5 minutes or so every workout to do some grip work.

For instance, if you're doing deadlifts, do some bar holds after your last set/rep. Just stand there, and hold the bar. Adjust the weight if necessary.

After you're done with pullups/chins, do some dead hangs.

My personal favorite is the farmer's carry. If you do these, you can't help but develop a strong grip.

  • NOTE: I recommend only doing specific grip training once every other week. In the OP's case I would emphasize time (endurance) over added weight. Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 15:37

Yes, strong forearms are necessary for achieving high reps and weighted reps. If you want to increase your grip strength, dedicate a few days to simply performing dead hangs with the weight you plan to do pull-ups with. This may "feel" like you're not doing anything but in reality, you're conditioning your arms to hold on and creating a good posture for future pulls.

Try performing the dead hangs for a minimum of 35 seconds each time and work your way to 60 seconds. You'll notice a difference when in your grip once you can hold 60+ seconds.

  • I can actually perform the dead hang for 60+, still my forearm is tired first when I actually perform pull-ups
    – Herokiller
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 3:18

This is actually what is expected from the standpoint of biomechanics.

All pullups technically have a "greater mechanical advantage" in favor of elbow flexion (brachialis + brachioradialis) over shoulder extension (lats + rear-delts) from the bottom of a "dead hang" position all the way up until your upper arm is "horizontal" or parallel to the ground. And only from there, until you reach the top of the movement with your chin way above the bar, does the mechanical advantage for shoulder extension exceed that of elbow flexion.

And so, since the body generally chooses the "easiest way possible" to do an exercise, it's not surprising you end up feeling the exercise primarily in the arms/forearms rather than your back/shoulders -- especially if the latter are already too strong for the former to keep up with them during the exercise!

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