How to Start Doing Chin-ups

Master The Form, Build The Strength

Chin-ups are one of the most bad ass exercises. We have dozens of women at our gym that make that one of their goals and are so ecstatic when they hit that goal. It makes you feel awesome, empowered and strong. Today’s article offers some simple ways to start doing chin-ups.

Typically chin-ups are defined as the palms facing towards your face as you are pulling up. Pull-ups are with palms facing outward and the neutral grip is with palms facing towards each other. All variations target different muscle use. If you have shoulder or elbow issues, the neutral grip is a good place to start.

How to Start Doing Chin-ups - Master The Form, Build The Strength

Important Form Cues

1. The scapula should move as you bring yourself in the upward motion.

2. Keep tension in the lats and scapular muscles at the bottom of the movement. A helpful cue would be to think of the scapula as being sticky—moving freely but under control.

3. The legs generally shouldn’t move. This is considered “cheating.” Some leg movement is okay, but this needs to be kept under control.

4. Avoid over-arching the lower back. You don’t need to form a perfect plank while chinning, but keep an eye on lumbar hyperextension and excessive anterior pelvic tilt, especially at the bottom of the movement.

Chin-up Training

Not everyone is going to be able to do a chin-up, but ways to get people ready are…

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1. Top Position Holds. Hold the chin above the bar in the top position for as long as possible—at least 10 seconds and repeat this for 3-5 sets.

2. Band Assisted. Loop a large band over a squat rack or bar and place your foot in, straighten your knee and use the band as assistance on the way up. Be sure to avoid bouncing at the bottom, keep tension on your lats and then drive back up.

3. Buddy Assisted. Make sure that the partner is helping on the way up and on the way down. The big thing to remember is muscle control. Common errors are to release completely on the way down. Make sure you assist the same on the way up as the way down.

4. Negatives. Jump up onto the bar (don’t exert too much effort on this part), and then slowly lower down, 3-5 seconds minimum (more, if you can). This will help attack the weaker areas that most women have—grip strength, lat engagement and core control.

Here’s a video with one bonus tip:

Callie Durbrow

Callie Durbrow is the owner of Durbrow Performance Training and the author of Strong and Sexy in 25 Minutes.

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