THE CHIN UP....

If you're going to master just one or two moves in this whole programme, make this one of them. Whether you're simply improving your form and increasing reps, or embarking on a long journey towards your first chin up, there's few better things to transform your body with.

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HOW TO CHIN UP:

GRAB THE BAR WITH YOUR HANDS TOWARDS YOU – (Hands away from you is known as a Pull Up). Your hands should be about shoulder width apart, but this is flexible. Make sure you’re comfortable in position.

LET YOUR BODY HANG, OR BEND KNEES PULLING YOUR FEET BEHIND YOU – We need to hang with our arms completely straight, our shoulder blades elevated, our shoulders close to our ears and our Lats stretched. Your body should be straight (if you have room) your abs gently engaged with your feet squeezed together. If you don’t have room, bend your knees but keep them squeezed together (not crossed).

INITIATE PULL FROM THE SHOULDER BLADES & ARM PITS – You should feel like the arm pits initiate the move as we draw our shoulder blades down and upper arm down towards the body. Lean back very slightly as you initiate the move.

PULL YOUR CHEST TO THE BAR – keep the pull going all the way to the top. Your sternum should be touching the bar – or level with it at the top of the Chin Up, and your lats should be tensed. You should feel them as your elbows will be locked into your arm pits. Your biceps should be tensed too.

PUSH AWAY FROM THE BAR VERY SLIGHTLY TO LOWER – this gives you little room and encourages a good shoulder position.

LOWER ALL THE WAY BACK TO DEAD HANG – all the way to straight arms and feel your shoulder blades elevate again.

REPEAT! – that’s one rep, now do some more.

WHICH PROGRESSION?

We practice Chin Ups on 3 months out of 4 in The Strength Sessions Programme. On the one hand, the goal is to master The Chin-Up Progression Ladder, so we can simply select the right progression to match our skill level from there. On the other hand, we want to train the Chin Up in different ways each month, so I suggest, for this month's training, you pick the progression that matches your strength level only if that is one of the dynamic moves.

If you are not yet strong enough for that, then I'd like to see you practicing either the 'feet cheat' style, or band-assisted this month, as you will have ample oppotunity to practice statics in month 2.

The 'feet cheat' style, as shown below, uses the exact same mechanics as the Chin Up itself, but we use the feet to 'cheat' the rep, by assisting just enough that you can perform your chosen amount of reps neatly. Now, there is a little feel invoved in this and it's hard to be scientific, but it's a great way of training the Chin Up.

HOW YOU PEOPLE MESS IT UP...

You lift your chin – Lifting your chin to help you get level with the bar will aggravate your neck, make you look silly and do absolutely nothing to work your arms and back… and that’s why you’re doing Chin Ups, right??? Keep that chin in position!

You use a short range of motion – It’s Ok to use as shorter range of motion if you know you’re doing it and are systematically working to increase. But don’t race through full sets of short reps thinking you’re doing Chin Ups…build to full range before you go above 5 reps.

You got no arc – If you go straight up from under the bar, without leaning and arcing back very slightly, you’ll probably be able to do the move but you will probably feel cramped and like the shoulder has no room to move. A gentle lean should give you more room and make you feel stronger.

You are too loose – if you struggle to control the body, if you can’t stop swinging, your Chins suffer because of this. To fix it you need to work on your skill a little. If you can feel your abs involved, and control a gentle arc, you shouldn’t have this problem. Practice squeezing your knees and feet together and controlling the whole body as one unit.

You don’t go high enough – this is common… people either aren’t storing enough, or mistakenly think that the move ends when their Chin is level with the bar. I know, I know, it is called a ‘Chin Up’, but we don’t care about your chin.

As with most exercises, more range of motion is a normally a good thing. We want to pull up as high as we can under control. The bar doesn’t dictate the end position – your physiology does.

We want to get our breast plate (your sternum) level with the bar. That’s your target.

WICKED CUES!

PULL THE BAR DOWN – Think about pulling down and you will stay in better form. Feel strong and imagine pulling the bar down to you!

STRETCH THEN TENSE YOUR LATS – Learn where they are; feel them stretch (under your arm pits and all the way down to their insertion ink your lower back); then feel them rock hard and tensed at the top.

LONG, STATIC NECK – remind yourself that lifting your chin doesn’t mean you can do Chin Ups – it makes you look a fool. Get and keep a long static neck throughout your set.

PULL AWAY FROM THE NECK – get the correct position at the bottom and you’ll have your shoulders around your ears. From here, imagine pulling your arms and shoulders down away from a static neck. We are trying to get the crown of the head way above the chin up bar, with your chin tucked.

WHY DO IT TO YOURSELF?!

YOU’LL MASTER THE CHIN UP PROGRESSION LADDER — and as I keep telling you, strive to Master The Strength Sessions and you’ll get hella-ripped.

BUILD A STRONGER, BIGGER UPPER BODY — for guys, Chin Ups are know as the King of Upper Body Exercises. With one move you can do SO MUCH to build your Biceps, and back muscles. For two years I built my physique almost entirely on Chin Ups and I got better results than any previous year where I had all sorts of variety.

GIRLS: THEY WILL TONE YOU — for most girls, Chin Ups are a very different proposition than for guys. But they are still one of the very best exercises you can do. With a goal of making one real chin up, or 3-5 perfectly controlled eccentric chin ups, you’ll have to train for strength, which means you’ll have a strong toning stimulus, and you’ll have to get really lean, which will mean you’ll have an amazing, shapely body.

YOU’LL NEED TO SHIFT ALL YOUR FAT — the more body weight skills you strive to master, the better shape you’ll want to be in. Less fat = less weight to carry. Best way to lose fat = strength work and better nutrition!

ALTERNATIVES...

IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE STRENGTH:

If you can’t do Chin Ups (yet), because you’re not strong enough, choose one of these to work your way towards the real thing (this is mildly in order of preference):

–> Feet Cheat Chin Ups

Where you place the bar just below chest level, then use your legs to assist the Chin Up motion, but only just enough that you can get your reps done.

–> Band Chin Ups

Try not to kill yourself on the first go.

–> Eccentric Chin Ups

Where you jump to the top, pause for a bit and then lower yourself — with strength — under control, all the way down to a dead hang.

–> Static Chin Ups

As we will do in Month 2, even if you can’t actually do Chin Ups, you could still get to the top position and then hold for time at the top.

All as explained above and full progressions are laid out in The Chin Up Progression Ladder.

IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE EQUIPMENT

Firstly, don’t stress it. You don’t have to do every exercise in The Strength Sessions Programme.

But of course, Chin Ups and Hangs are a large part of the programme, so if you don’t have a Chin Up bar, my advice is to decide to dominate the rest of the programme with a view to getting Chin Up bar access in the future. Go a cycle or two through the programme, but as you get more and more dedicated (you will), resolve to get yourself fully set up.

In the meantime, you can choose one of these options:

–> EXTRA HORIZONTAL ROWS
We already do these in months 2, 3 and 4 of the programme, but if you do have access to horizontal row apparatus then these will be an ideal replacement.

–> FORGET IT AND CONCENTRATE ON OTHER PARTS OF THE PROGRAMME
Next of course, is to save your energy and concentrate even more on other parts of the programme.

Depending on where you are on you’re journey, you may just be glad to concentrate on the consistency and enjoy the time you save from missing these out.

If you have time and energy, but not the equipment to do Chin Ups, adding an extra set of everything else is a crude, but acceptable short term way of training. Long term, you’ll want to be more balanced, but short term, you can still get great results this way.

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