How Often Can a Senior Do Pull Ups, Chin Ups & Dips?


Just like the rest of the population, seniors come in all shapes, sizes and fitness levels. Reaching an age of 65 or 75 doesn't automatically require you to cut back on your workout routine. Pullups, chin-ups and dips are all multi-joint exercises, which can be particularly beneficial to seniors as they require more coordination. On the other hand, general safety guidelines and possible effects of aging may limit the frequency with which you perform each exercise.

General Workout Guidelines

  • An effective workout regimen should work all the major muscle groups -- chest, shoulders, back, arms, legs and core -- at least twice per week. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a break of at least 48 hours between working the same muscles and a maximum frequency of four times per week. This applies to the general population as well as seniors. If you're a senior who's been working out three or four times per week, including doing chin-ups, pullups and dips, and are experiencing no ill effects, there's no reason to cut back.

Know Your Muscles

  • To determine the right frequency for your exercises, you have to know what muscles they work. Pullups and chin-ups are very similar exercises that work several muscles in the upper body, but the latissimus dorsi in your mid-back region gets the most work. Triceps dips, obviously, target your triceps, but your lats assist, as they do in the chest dip that concentrates on your pecs. So doing pullups one day, chin-ups the next day and dips the next wouldn't give your lats time to recover. You need to leave at least 48 hours between workouts for muscle recovery, even if you're varying the exercise.

Those Aches and Pains

  • Impairments like arthritis in the moving joints of your shoulders or elbows may affect the frequency at which you perform these three exercises. While exercise can be beneficial for arthritis sufferers, do these exercises only on days when you are feeling little or no pain in the affected joints. In place of pullups, chin-ups and dips, you can use lighter dumbbells for bent-over rows, chest presses and reverse flys; you can also try gym machines. If your gym has an assisted pullup machine with bars for dips, you can lessen the weight your body has to move.

Listen to Your Body

  • In the end, your body is the best indicator of how frequently you should perform an exercise. If you find yourself particularly fatigued after your workouts, or if you used to do 20 pullups and can now only do 15, you may be working out too much. Any exercise done over and over without variation will lose its effectiveness. Chin-ups and pullups work many of the same muscles in the same way, so every four weeks or so try other exercises for the same muscles; the same applies for dips.

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