How to smash out chin ups…

Before we talk Chin Ups – thanks to everyone who sent me suggestions for places to eat in Detroit.  Paul and I went to our first ever Red Wings game and let me tell you, it won’t be our last!  We had a great time, loved downtown Detroit with its beautiful buildings, loved the people – everyone was super friendly.  Definitely not what I expected at all.

We took your advice and went to the Grand Trunk Pub for a delicious supper and some very nice Michigan craft beers.  It was awesome!  Thanks again.

We went to see Turning Pro goalie Carter Hutton and his Predators take on the Wings.  Pekka Rinne was in net for the Preds (Carter won in net last night vs the Bruins) and the Wings won in OT – so all in all a good outcome.

If you have never been to a game in DTW- make this your year to do it.  The tickets are reasonably priced and it is a great event.  Get in there, spend some money and help bring a great city back.

Okay – – now the Chin Up stuff…

Don’t worry; they have long been the bane of my existence too.

The dreaded Chin Up (don’t even get me started on the Pull Up).

For me, I can happily burn through four reps, which makes me feel really good! I think “woohooo – look at me and my sweet chin ups”!

And then it is like my arms have been transformed into spaghetti and the most I can even wiggle and will myself through is two more reps.

Then I drop from the bar, criss cross my arms and grab my opposite biceps with my opposite hand as if to hug them (and myself) to say “It’s okay – we’ll get ‘em next time”

Sound familiar?

Some of you might still be at the ‘optimistic hang’ stage.

Where you step up to the bar, purposefully grab it, adjust your grip, put a look of determination on your face, pick up your feet and… just hang there.


Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered, these strategies will add at least two reps to your personal record if you stick with them.

Oh yeah…and if you are one of those players who can just step up to the bar and smash out 15+ reps with that look on your face like “is this supposed to be hard…I don’t feel anything” – – go on your merry way, this isn’t for you – ha ha.

Just kidding – you should be adding weight by using a dip belt and these three strategies I have will help even you 🙂

3 Strategies – don’t do them all at once.

  1. Grab a bench

A lot of us get so exhausted to pull our chin over the bar each rep (because it takes us about 15 second per rep to get there – that’s a joke – sort of), that we have exhausted our muscle right away.

On subsequent reps we cannot get through the full range of motion, so our muscles never get the chance to get stronger at those end range, chin over the bar angles.

Do THIS… grab a bench and step up on it using your legs to get into the top position of the chin up (you can even do a little hop to get up there). Once you are in that position, pull your elbows down tight to your sides and squeeze your shoulder blades back slightly – to open your chest.

Hold that top position for 3-5 seconds and then without using the bench slowly lower yourself all the way down with just your arms. Lower yourself for a count of 3-5 seconds as well.

Do 2-6 reps like this.

  1. Use a Superband.

I much prefer a Superband to something like the Gravitron machine you might see at the gym. The beauty of the superband is that it gives you the most help in the range where you are weakest – getting out of the dead hang position.

As you overcome inertia and get moving, the band gives you less and less help, so your muscles do more work and as a result get stronger over time.

Just make sure you are using a good quality band that does not have any cuts or tears, you don’t want it breaking on you.

Here’s how to use it for your chin ups or pull ups.

  1. Partial range.

Finally, you can do some partial range work. What I mean by this is you can focus just on the range of the movement that gives you the most trouble.

For most of you it is getting your chin over the bar – that last 2 inches from your nose to your chin – or getting out of the dead hang.

Don’t worry about this technique until you can do at least 4-6 reps of bodyweight chin ups. When you are ready for it, you will do 6-10 reps either just in the top six inches of the range or just in the bottom six inches of the range. Make sure they are controlled and the tempo will be roughly one second up, two seconds down.

So there are a few tricks of the trade to help with your chin ups. Thanks for the question Jonny – sorry it took me a while to get it posted for you 🙂


PS – chin ups are a great exercise because you can clearly see that you get what you give.  If you invest your time and energy in them, you will get better.  Let it slack off and there go your gains.