Monday, May 11, 2015

Chin-Ups! And How to Do Your First One!

Chin-ups are one of my favorite exercises. In the past, I've vastly improved my fitness levels and dropped serious body fat by adopting a steady diet of Chin-Ups, Push-Ups, Dips, and running. If I wanted to go super-minimalist in my current training, I would probably stick to Chins along with Kettlebell Swings and Turkish Get-Ups.

I need to pause a moment here, because any article on Chin-Ups has to address a bit of nomenclature. So here it goes: Pull-Ups (usually) refer to grabbing the bar with your palms facing away from you. Chins-Ups (usually) refer to grabbing the bar with your palms facing towards you. There are other variations, such as Neutral Grip (palms facing each other, which is requires a certain type of bar). In general, Chin-Ups are easier than Pull-Ups because the biceps are more engaged and take some of the pressure off the back. I like to use a Lifeline USA Jungle Gym, which allows for a sort of rotating grip that I prefer.

Why do I love Chin-Ups in all their forms? Besides being incredibly functional, there is just something emotionally satisfying about them. It feels good to pull yourself up. You feel powerful. It also looks cool, which is no doubt why so many films—Taxi Driver, Aliens, The Bourne Identity, G.I. Jane, The American, I Am Legend, Skyfall, etc.—feature scenes of characters to some sort of Pull-Up. It reinforces their badassery.

Chin-Ups are also very hard to do. Many people (most?) can't do a single one. For a long time, I was one of those people. 

How did I train to do my first Chin-Up? Through the power of negatives! A negative involves stepping or jumping up to the top position of a Chin-Up and then slowly lowering yourself. 

Here's specifically what I did: