Chin-ups are as old as time. They are great for strengthening most upper body muscles, especially the biceps and the latissimus dorsi, (lats), also known as the climbing muscle. They are an excellent exercise, but to do them right, they are really tough. Because just achieving one correct chin-up can be a challenge, often people leave them out of their workout.
But working toward a correct chin up can be an effective workout in itself.
A correct chin-up starts with a complete arm extension. Arms are slightly wider that shoulder width apart and palms are turned in toward you. These are not to be mistaken for the pull-up, where arms are wider and palms face away from you. (those are even harder!) Pull yourself up until your chin passes the bar you are holding.
Here are a few steps you can take to work up to a full complete chin up:
The double leg assisted chin-up: stand on a chair or bench, which is placed beneath the chin-up bar. Use as much upper arm strength as you can to achieve your chin-up, but use your legs to assist you. Work toward 12 repetitions, completing each with fully extended arms.
The single-leg assisted chin-up: just like the double-leg assisted chin-up, but this is the next progression. Use just one leg to assist you in your chin-up. Continue to try to use as much of your upper body strength as possible.
The reverse (eccentric) chin-up: In this exercise, start in the end position with your chin over the bar. You can hop up or step up into this position. Lower yourself out of the chin-up slowly, using a count of 5. Using muscle while it elongates the is called an “eccentric contraction”, and is an effective way to improve strength.
After some effort practicing these assisted and alternative techniques, try just one chin-up. You will be surprised at how quickly you can improve your strength!
I encourage you to invest in a chin up bar that you can easily install in a door way. They are easily removed and you will tend to use them when you walk through the door!