Chin ups are an exercise that we should all master. Few exercises offer as much muscle and strength building bang for the buck. Doing them properly will help you build and strengthen nearly every muscle in your upper body. They especially target your back, biceps, and shoulders. When done properly, they’ll even help you build strong, flat abs.
The only problem with chin ups is that they’re very tough to perform at first. Most men and women cannot do 1 rep properly when they first try this exercise. This, in turn leads to most people ignoring them and instead performing easier exercises like lat pull downs and barbell rows.
Don’t be one of these people. With the proper strategy and some hard work anyone can do chin ups. This article shows you how. Follow the tips in this article and you will soon be doing them with world class form.
Chin Up Progressions
Use Resistance Bands
The thing that makes chin ups so tough is that you need to be able to lift all of your body weight off the ground from a hanging position. One way to take off some of the load and make them easier is to use a resistance band.
Resistance bands will do some of the work for you, decreasing the amount of weight you have to lift off the ground. Using them is simple too. All you need to do is tie a band to your chin up bar so that there’s a loop at the bottom. Place one of your feet in this loop and you’re set. You’ll now get the assistance you need to perform a proper chin up.
Start with the heaviest resistance band required to perform 5 chin ups with proper form. Once you can do 3 sets of 10 reps it’s time to use a lighter band. Continue with this progression until a resistance band is no longer required.
If you don’t have access to resistance bands you can still become strong enough to do a chin up. You just have to learn to accentuate the negative.
This doesn’t mean you should become angry and say bad things about this exercise. What it means is that you need to emphasizing the negative (lowering) phase of the chin up. Doing just this part of the exercise will help you become stronger and eventually make it possible to perform a complete chin up.
Perform this exercise by standing on a chair or bench, grabbing onto the pull up bar and raising yourself to the top position of the pull up exercise. Your chest should be even with the bar. Then, lower yourself from the top position of the pull up to the bottom for 5 seconds. Increase the amount of time you take to lower yourself by 2 seconds every workout. Do this until it takes 15 seconds to perform 1 rep. Your goal is to be able to perform 10 pull ups this way.
Once you can perform 15 second negative pull ups for 10 reps you should be able to perform at least 2-3 sets of 3-5 pull ups. Make it your goal to add at least 1 more pull up to your workout every week. Once you can do 3 sets of 10 pull ups, you can begin to add weight or perform more difficult variations.
Chin Up Assistance Exercises
Strengthening your weak points will help you master chin ups faster. The key is to perform the right exercises.
You need to focus on strengthening muscles that help you pull your body up and over the chin up bar. This means building stronger biceps, back, and shoulder muscles. The exercises that helped me become strong enough to master the chin up included farmer’s walks, kettlebell swings, and inverted rows.
Putting It All Together
The best way to become strong enough to perform chin ups is to do them often. I recommend doing them 3 times a week with a days rest between each workout. They should be the first exercise in your workout. This will ensure that your body is rested and able to put 100% into every rep.
Below is a sample workout to help you get started. Take a day off to rest and recover between each session. Perform each exercise for 3 sets of 5-8 reps. Increase the weight when you can do 3 sets of 8 repetitions with good technique.
Resistance Band Chin Ups
Negative Chin Ups
Standing Shoulder Press
Stiff Leg Deadlift
Bent Over Row
Now you have a complete blueprint for mastering the almighty chin up. Apply the information in this article and before you know it, you too will be cranking out chin ups and be the envy of your gym.
(Photo credit: young bodybuilder training in gym via Shutterstock)