Chin-ups are a very important exercise that targets the upper muscle on the back, as well as the biceps muscles in the arms. Additionally, it helps to build your strength and muscle.
Chin-ups are notoriously difficult to do, but with consistent effort and the right guides, you can master how to do chin-ups in no time.
Conversely, chin-ups are similar to pull-ups, with the only difference being the hand position.
In a chin-up, the palms face the body, while pull-ups are performed with the palms facing away.
Because this exercise deals with managing the body weight, a lot of people shy away from it.
But if you want to get better at it, it all takes consistent training and efforts with the right knowledge.
This article highlights all you need to know about how to do chin-ups properly with no injuries.
Here are some tips to get you started.
Tips on How to do Chin-ups
If this is your absolute first time, and you want to learn how to do chin-ups, and be a master at it, there are some tips you must know.
These tips will set you on the right path, both mentally and physically to do chin-ups correctly.
#1. The more you weigh, the more you have to lift
If you want to be be good at doing chin-ups, you need to realize that your weight plays a major role. So, the first step is to get your diet under control. Manage what you eat, and stick to what helps you lose weight.
More so, when doing chin-ups, you realize that its like carrying your entire body weight on a bar.
So, manage what you eat properly.
#2. Make your chin-up exercises a priority
A lot of people prefer to start doing other exercises before doing any back-related exercise.
After your warm-up, your first exercise should be the one you want to master. In this case, it’d be your back muscles.
Until you get your chin-ups right, focus on doing the back exercises that will build you up.
#3. Do YOU
In as much as you have to follow some rules, it doesn’t apply to everyone. If you think you can chin-ups sooner, then its okay to give it a try.
If you also think you want to start with smaller reps and other exercises before you get to chin-ups, then that’s okay too.
Whichever style you choose, just make sure you are getting close to your goal, and staying clear of injuries.
Exercise to Get You Closer to Doing a Chin-Up
Chin-ups are great exercises to gauge your upper body strength. So, its advised to start from the scratch and build your strength as you progress.
There are some exercises that help you build your strength from the ground. And as you get comfortable managing your body weight and movement on the ground, you can move to the bar.
Here are five exercises to help you master chin-ups
#1. Hollow Position
To do the hollow position, lie on your back, arms extended over your head, one hand on top of the other.
Straighten your legs out on the floor, ankles crossed. Lift your arms and legs several inches off the ground so you create a slight ‘V’ shape.
Make sure your core is engaged and your lower back stays glued to the floor.
Hold the position for as long as you can without letting your form waver. Aim to hold this position for a total of one minute per workout session.
More so, you can do six 10-second holds, three 20-second holds, two 30-second holds—whatever works for your skill level.
According to Tony Gentilcore, a Boston-based certified strength and conditioning specialist, “Hollow position is a very simple looking exercise, but it really builds context on the floor for the exact position you need to be in on the bar.
He says your feet should never be behind you, and you should never be loosey-goosey with your limbs. It’s all about keeping your body tense and engaged from toes to fingers.”
#2. Stability ball roll-out
To do the stability ball roll-out exercise, Kneel in front of a stability ball and place your forearms and hands on top of it.
Then, with control, roll the ball forward so that your body and arms extend long in front of you.
Only roll out as far as you can go without allowing your back to hyper-extend (if you’re new to this move, that may only be a couple of inches). Using your core, roll back to your starting position.
Gentilcore says that “If you’re squeezing your glutes and bracing your abs, you should feel your whole body fire up with tension and control, especially when you pull yourself back to your kneeling position.”
Add two to four sets of five to 10 repetitions to your workouts. “The lower rep ranges help keep the focus on the quality of the movement, rather than just building up fatigue, when the form gets sloppy.
My all time favorite work-out. Push-ups teach you how to manage your body weight, because you need a strong core to help you execute them correctly.
Push-ups can help you prepare for a chin-up. So, while doing them, don’t do it on your knees. Gentilcore says, “When doing push-ups, do them with your legs extended, or else you have an injury that makes it uncomfortable to do push-ups in such condition.”
There are different forms of push-ups, you just have to find that variation that is more comfortable for you without doing them on your knees.
Do at least 10 push-ups each day. Scatter them throughout the day if you can’t do 10 with good form in a single go.
As you get stronger, try lowering yourself to the bottom of the push-up and then taking three to five seconds to slowly push back up.
#4. Straight-arm hang
After you’ve mastered these basic moves, it’s time to move to the bar. But, hold on, it’s not time for the chin-up just yet. This time around, you are just performing a straight arm hang on the bar.
So, place your hands in a straight manner on the bar, pull your shoulders down and together, with your legs straight, and feet and ankles slightly angled in front of your body.
Also, ensure that you have an underhand grip, that is, you hands are facing you. An over hand grip, which is your hands facing away from you is a different move, called pull-up.
Although these can help you learn pull-up, it still requires extra work because it is more challenging.
For a start, hang for as long as you can. Its okay if you can just hang for a few seconds, you’re just starting.
As you get more comfortable, you can try hanging with proper form for longer, try bending your knees forward into a 90-degree angle, like you’re sitting in a chair.
And you become stronger, you can hang with your legs extended straight in front of you, parallel to the floor. Add two to five straight-arm hangs to your routine as often as you can.
#5. Flexed-arm hang
This is a more complex form of the straight-arm hang. It allows you to get comfortable with the top position of a chin-up.
While hanging, hang with your chin above the bar, arms bent, with a strong underhand grip.
Hold the position as long as you can with good form, repeating two to five times during your workout.
As you get more comfortable, practice lowering yourself out of it with control instead of collapsing to the ground. (To make it easier, take three to five seconds to go from the flexed-arm hang to the straight-arm hang position).
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How to do a Chin-Up Properly
If you want to learn how to do chin-ups properly, there are two methods to do so.
- By performing the actual chin-up
- By building through strength training
#1. By performing the actual chin-up
To do this, you have to;
a. Locate a chin-up bar
Every gym has a chin-up bar, which is a horizontal bar positioned above shoulder height.
If you are not a member of a gym, you can buy a chin-up bar and install it in your house. However, make sure it is positioned above your shoulders.
b. Put your hands on the bar with your palms facing your body
A chin-up begins with your palms facing your body. And it is called an underhand grip. Whereas a pull-up begins with your palms facing away. Hold the bar comfortably but firmly, with your hands spaced shoulder-width apart.
c. Raise your body until your chin is above the bar
Use your upper arm strength to lift your body toward the bar, stopping when your chin is above the bar.
Your elbows will be entirely bent. Bend your knees or cross your feet to distribute your weight more evenly.
d. Lower yourself back down
Using a slow, controlled motion, lower yourself until your arms are straight. This is the complete range of motion for a chin-up.
#2. By building through strength training
You can work yourself up to a good chin-up through strength training. It involves.
a. By doing isometric chin-ups
To do this, stand on a chair and grip the bar as though you were going to do a chin-up.
Bend your knees as much as you need to so that your chin is just above the bar.
Move your feet off of the chair and hang in this position for 30 seconds or as long as you can. After 30 seconds, lower yourself back down until your arms are straight. Repeat this five times.
While doing this, you should note the following;
- When you lower yourself down, it’s slow and controlled. So, use the same muscles on the way down that you use on the way up.
- This exercise will help to train your muscles to perform a chin-up without the help of a chair.
b. Start from slightly below the bar
This is another method to do chin-ups. This time, stand on the chair and position yourself so that your head is slightly below the bar.
Your arms should be at a 90-degree angle. Starting from this position, pull yourself up so that your chin is past the bar. Repeat five times starting from the same position.
While doing this, you should note the following;
- Lower yourself halfway down in a slow and controlled manner.
- After a while, you’ll notice that you’ll be able to start from lower and lower down.
c. Do it consistently
Repeat these exercises severally for weeks till you learn how to do chin-ups. More so, each time, try to start the exercises from a lower position. Eventually start from a full hang, with your arms completely straight. See how far you can pull yourself up five times in a row.
d. Go harder
If you’ve been doing this consistently, then its time to increase your number of reps.
Pull yourself up five times in a row, or as many times as possible. You can also do a combination of full chin-ups and half chin-ups. As your muscles gain strength, increase your reps.
While doing this, you should note the following;
- You should be able to increase your reps every week.
- Don’t overdo it. You don’t want to tear a muscle or overwork yourself.
- Rest between sessions to give your muscles time to repair and get stronger.
Although chin-ups are difficult workout routines, you can still know how to do them properly.
I hope this article teaches you all you need to know.
All the best!