Exercise of the Week: Chin Up

Chin ups are a wonderful exercise for anybody to be able to do. When done correctly, they are great for strengthening your back muscles, core muscles, arm muscles, and developing overall body stability. And, although this is a great exercise, most people don’t initially have the upper body strength and body control to be able to perform it correctly. Therefore, many people aren’t getting the max bang-for-their-buck when utilizing this exercise.


The importance of starting an exercise WHERE YOU ARE and not where you see everybody else (or where you think you should be) is imperative to proper strength development. That’s why using proper chin up regressions when first implementing this exercise is necessary to build the strength you need in order to get max benefit.


Starting Where You Are


Performing a chin up correctly is a hard feat, especially for women. Women naturally have less strength in their upper body relative to their size than men (generally, the opposite is true for the lower body. We have 135lb, 50+ year old women who deadlift 200lbs). So building the proper upper body strength in a progressive manner in order to perform a correct chin up is imperative. And a great place to start is with the inverted row.



The inverted row mimics the motion and pull of the chin up without you having to stabilize the whole weight of your body in the pull. This is a great exercise because it stills teaches you to be able to stabilize through you core while building mid-upper back strength.


Moving to Chin Ups


Once you’ve progressively moved your way down the rack in you inverted rows, it’s time to move to trying a chin up. To begin your chin up adventure, I recommend doing eccentric chin ups for the first 4-6 weeks before actually trying to do a chin up.


What is eccentric you ask? In an eccentric chin up, instead of pulling from bottom to top, you start at the top and lower yourself SLOWLY down to the bottom. I understand slowly is relative, so we tell our clients to emphasis the eccentric part of any movement for 5 seconds. You want to start with 3 sets of 5 second lowers, adding a rep a week until you get to 8. Once you can get 3 sets of 8 eccentric chin ups, go ahead and give a real chin up a try. There’s a good chance you still won’t be able to do one, and that’s okay. Run your eccentric phase again, starting with 5 reps and adding one rep a week until you get to 8, until you can get 3 good chin ups.


Once you can get 3 good chin ups, you’re ready to be on your way. This is very simplistic way to build your chin up strength. You have to be patient with the process. It will take time, but if you allow the process to work, you’ll be doing weighted chin ups in no time



Keep up the hustle!

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Jerry Scarlato
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Jerry Scarlato

Owner, Fitness Coach at Thrive Fitness
Jerry Scarlato is a Personal Trainer and Entrepreneur who lives in Northern Kentucky. He runs 2 businesses related to health and wellness: Thrive Fitness and Thrive Online. Jerry has been involved in the fitness for his entire adult life, including playing sports through college. Along with being an Entrepreneur, Jerry is a content creator,
Jerry Scarlato
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