Chin-ups are easier to do with a friend.

Chinning Exercises

by Patrick Dale

Chin-ups are a tough body weight exercise that targets your biceps and your upper back muscles, specifically your latissimus dorsi or lats for short. When you perform a chin-up, you have to pull your entire body weight up using just your arms, so this is not an exercise for beginner exercisers. There are, however, ways to make the chin-up more accessible even if you aren't that strong yet. If you stick to the routine, you will become a stronger mom. If you have mastered chinning, there are also ways to make chin-ups more challenging.

1. Chinning Performance

Pull-ups are performed using a wider than shoulder-width overhanded grip, but chin-ups are performed with a shoulder-width underhanded grip. This places your biceps in a mechanically advantageous position, which should lead to improved chin-up over pull-up performance. Hang from a sturdy overhead bar so your arms are straight and use an underhanded grip. Lift your chest, arch your lower back slightly and pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar. Lower yourself back down and repeat.

2. Band-Assisted Chin-ups

As chin-ups are a body weight exercise, the amount of weight you have to overcome is somewhat fixed. If you are not yet strong enough to chin your body weight, you can use resistance bands to temporarily make yourself lighter. Loop a large resistance band over your overhead bar and then stand or kneel in the bottom of the loop. The band will help lift you up toward the bar. As you get stronger, use weaker resistance and then eventually wean yourself off the band altogether.

3. Machine Assisted Chin-ups

Assisted chinning machines use a counterweight to offset a percentage of your body weight. How much weight depends on where you slot the weight key into the stack. The greater the weight you select, the more your body weight will be counterbalanced and the easier your chinning workout will be. As you gain strength, gradually lower the amount of counterweight used until you are able to do your chin-ups unassisted. If you don't have access to one of these machines, ask a trainer or training partner to give you a spot by placing their hands under your knees and crossed ankles and lifting you up toward the bar. Remember, they should only be helping you and not doing all the work for you.

4. Weighted Chin-ups

Once you are able to perform ten or more chin-ups on your own, you are ready to take on a bigger challenge -- weighted chinning. Temporarily increase your body weight by wearing a weighted vest or backpack or strapping a weight around your waist using a specially designed chinning belt. Start light, for example, five pounds, and gradually increase the weight as you get stronger.

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