The chin-up, sometimes known as the reverse grip pull-up, is an exercise that we don’t particularly love as it can be tough to master. However it is an amazing natural movement that builds power like nothing else.
If you have never tried a chin-up it is likely you will struggle, but this isn’t a sign to give up and try something else, it’s about tailoring the exercise to suit you and build up to the proper exercise.
I have only recently begun doing chin-ups, but find them extremely satisfying to complete. Not to be too stereotypical but I would hazard a guess and say men would be better in this area than women in general. Women seem to work the legs more (perhaps without fully realising) and men tend to sway towards more upper body muscle building, of course there are exceptions, but this has been my general observation at the gym.
There are some great variations you can try to build up to proper chin-ups, so don’t worry if you can’t do one. If you have never tried a chin-up it is likely you will struggle, but this isn’t a sign to give up and try something else, it’s about tailoring the exercise to suit you and build up to the proper exercise. When working with my PT we simply began by grabbing onto the bar and hanging for a period of time, it’s a lovely stretch in itself and gets you used to hanging from the bar. What you can then do is move onto some negatives, which just means starting at the top of a chin-up using a step to boost you up. Pull yourself right up with your chin above the bar, making sure to keep your torso engaged and straight, then slowly lower your self down to a hang again.
When you move on from here you can now practise an assisted chin-up with the aid of a resistance band. A resistance band will just give you a bit of a helping hand, you hook it over the bar and put one foot in at her bottom, and it helps you spring up a little bit easier. Again pull up with your chin above the bar, torso nice and straight. After working on each of these areas in a few sessions, you can finally try the proper chin up exercise, and feel a real sense of achievement when you can do them. Use a step to propel your first chin-up, keep your body engaged, lift up until chin is above the bar, and drop with control until your arms are at right angles to the bar. Repeat a few times if you can!
Here’s a thought, do you remember playing on the monkey bars when you were a kid? Back then it wasn’t viewed as exercise it was just fun, so my advice is to not to take it too seriously.
So what muscles are we actually working when we do a chin-up?
This exercise will work your hands, forearms, biceps, upper back, abdominals, and lower back. To add to that I’d go as far as say it gives you a great rush, so it’s amazing for just making you feel great mentally. Now how good is that? An amazing return for an exercise that doesn’t take a lot of time out of your day. Some view the chin-up as more beneficial than the pull-up as it works biceps as well as building the back.
So what is the difference between a pull-up and a chin-up? The pull-up is slightly different in that your grip is reversed, and your shoulders are slightly further apart, but the basic movement is the same. Strength is however concentrated on the lats, so it is a little more tricky, as we tend to have more bicep strength than back strength. I believe as long as we are fitting in a pulling motion to our workouts, along with pushing, twisting, squatting and lifting, strength is being built and we are covering all bases, this will help us in every day life.
Just hang from the pull-up bar for as long as you can and repeat this 4-6 times, whatever feels right for you.
Try either completing 4-6 negatives, holding for as long as you can at the top and slowly lowering or try a full chin-up with the aid of a resistance band also repeat 4-6 times
Try to complete 4 or 5 full chin-ups.
My current full chin-up limit is 4, even more tough when you add them in at the end of a workout. When there isn’t much energy left in the tank you’ll certainly feel the burn. I have actually installed a chin-up/pull-up bar in the house now. They are reasonably priced, easy to install, and it’s so easy to jump up and give it a go every time you head up the stairs. I like to do a bit of a kettle-bell set and finish with a few chin-ups.
So have you tried the chin-up? What is your record? Why not let us know by leaving a comment using the comments box below.