There’s no other way to say this: chin-ups are hard. You can either do them, or you can’t, and there’s really no cheating your way into pulling your chin over a bar using nothing but raw, upper body strength. As strength exercises go, chin-ups are definitely a top-tier; executing even one requires immense amount of strength, properly toned muscles, and knowing the correct techniques. But even with all these pre-requisites, getting your chin-ups in still requires practice and conditioning, both inside and outside the gym, to fully prepare your body for one of the most strenuous activities it will ever have to do.
So if you’re thinking about finally nailing your first push-up, or thinking your current chin-ups need some work, read on for seven strength-building exercises you can do both inside and outside the gym.
If you’ve never done a pull-up before, you have to start small. Even simple dumbbell exercises, as Medium.com demonstrates, can go a long way in training your body for bigger action.
This basic exercise is perhaps the most familiar to people, whether or not they’ve hit a gym. To do this, simply stand straight with feet shoulder-width apart and firmly planted on even ground. Hold a bicep in each hand, and inhale slowly. As you exhale, gradually lift the dumbbells above shoulder height. You can choose whether to alternate your hands, or to lift them together at the same time. This tones your biceps, and practices your grip.
Lie back on an exercise ball or a bench, keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground for balance. Hold a dumbbell with both hands on the stem, and inhale slowly as you straighten your arms so the dumbbell hovers parallel over your chest. On your exhale, lower the dumbbell and raise your arms so the dumbbell is now positioned over your head. Inhale and return to original position. This workout strengthens and tones all your arm muscles.
Bent Over Rows
Stand straight, holding a dumbbell on each hand, then lower your legs to a 45-degree angle. Inhale slowly and gradually pull up the dumbbells, making sure to keep them at even height to each other. Exhale as you lower the dumbbells. This action simulates the motions of chin-ups, and is a great introduction to pulling weights. It works out your biceps, torso, backside, and legs.
Your arms may do most of the work (literally), but having a strong core is just as important in getting your pull-ups in. What makes chin-ups incredibly hard is the fact that your own body is working against you, so it is imperative that you have a strong core to be able to control your body. Here are some simple exercises from Health.com that will give you the core of steel to nail those chin-ups.
This basic exercise really packs a punch. To do the Hollow, lie supine on your back, with your lower back flattened on the floor, then stretch out your arms and legs, hands together and feet crossed. Slowly raise both arms and legs at the same time, keeping your lower back flattened, until you’ve created something of a V shape. Keep your core engaged, and hold the position for as long as possible. Aim for a one-minute cycle, which you can break down into 10-second holds, 20-second, 30-seconds, and so on until you manage the full minute. This exercise not only tones your core, but it also trains your body in the proper position for a pull-up: legs never behind you, and arms fixed firmly to one position, while keeping your entire body engaged.
It’s no surprise that this particular exercise is a classic, and one that sets the foundation for harder workouts. Push-ups work all major muscle groups, and the movements are not complicated. However, it is easy to do push-ups incorrectly, so if you’re relatively new to this, have someone with more experience spot you for mistakes. To do a push-up, have your body lie straight, bracing your full weight on your arms and toes, and, most importantly, never your knees. Ensure that your form is straight as you push up and down to keep all your muscles properly engaged. Variations can include using yoga blocks or other similar tools to shorten your range. As coaches and trainers can attest, having the proper push-up form does wonders for your pull-up form.
If you’re not ready to take it to the bar just yet, no worries. There are other exercises you can do to better prepare you for your pull-ups, by mimicking the movements and exercising the same muscle groups. WePullUp.com has a few alternatives you can do at home or in the office (just make sure it’s not during work hours) as you psych yourself up for your big gym showdown:
Table Bodyweight Row
Find any sturdy table that would let you stretch fully underneath it (meaning, it can’t be one of those teacher’s desk types where only one side is free while the rest are closed off), and position yourself so that your chest is in line with the table’s edge. Grip this edge and slowly pull yourself up, making a point to keep your body and arms straight. Get as close to the ledge as you can, and hold the position as long as possible. For this exercise to be effective, make sure you have your upper back engaged, and your shoulder blades squeezed together. When you lower yourself, do not go all the way down and instead, hang a few inches and hold that position until you begin pulling yourself up again.
The plank is one of the best exercises because it doesn’t involve any complicated motions or positions, but still works out your entire body. A simple twist to this classic serves as a great strength-building workout for the more complicated chin-up, and you can easily do this in the comfort of your own room as you’ve been planking thus far. To do the bicep plank, start with a regular high plank, but turn your palms inwards so your fingers are pointed to your knees. Once stable, slowly move your body forwards until your hands are directly under your hips. Hold and repeat.
Chin-ups may be an intimidating exercise for a good reason, but they’re not impossible. With the proper conditioning, discipline, and commitment to your goals, just about anyone can accomplish this incredible feat of strength. Before you hit the bar, work out your core muscles and practice the right forms. Start with your arm and upper body muscles with dumbbell exercises. Keep your core tones and strong with the hollow position exercise and push-ups. And finally, practice the motions and form with the table bodyweight row and bicep planks.
Likewise, finding yourself a good gym is a fantastic way to help you crush your fitness goals, be it losing 100 lbs or nailing 100 pull-ups. At Rec Xpress, not only are the equipment of top quality to give you only the best workout experience, but the staff and team are 100% dedicated to seeing you succeed to. Open 24/7 and with just an $11 weekly membership fee, Rec Xpress’ no lock-in contract and no transaction fees policy is guaranteed to give you the gym experience that’s perfectly tailorfitted to your unique needs. For more details, visit www.RecXpress.com.au and sign up now!