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How To Do Your First Chin Up


Before you attempt to do your first chin up, there will be a few things you’ll need to check off your list.


Step One: Strengthen the muscles that you will use to chin


You should have a decent lat pulldown, and a bench press that is at least 40-50% of your bodyweight for 1 rep or more.


Your shoulders need to be at decent strength too – with adequate range of motion at the shoulder joint and healthy movement of the scapulars.


You should have been doing isolated arm and forearm work, so that your grip and biceps are strong enough to hold your bodyweight without risk of causing strain to the elbow.


Once you have ticked these boxes – you have now qualified to start isometric chin up work.


Step 2: Isometric Work


Choose either a close semi-supinated grip (palms face each other) or conventional chin up (palms face you), as these are your strongest grips. Pull ups (palms face away from face) are roughly 15-20% harder then these.


How to do the Isometric Chin Up: Start by climbing up on the chin up bar so that you start with your body at the top of the chin up position. The bar should be on the clavicle, and you need to have the scapulars sitting in the correct position so that your upper back is locked into this position.


Start Your Isometric and Eccentric Chin Ups From Here

Start Your Isometric and Eccentric Chin Ups From Here


Once you are in this position you want to hold it there for the max amount of time you can. Being able to hold in this position on the bar for 10 seconds without dropping is the first goal. If you can do this easily – it is time to move on to eccentric work.


Step 3: Eccentric Work


An eccentric chin up starts in the same position at your isometric chin up: with your body at the top of the chin up position. The bar should be sitting on the clavicle. Your upper back must be locked into this position before you begin the movement.


You will then aim to lower your body for 10 seconds into the end position of a chin up – which is a full hang with both elbows locked out.


Eccentric work is very demanding on the body, although not metabolically expensive at all.


Each time you do the eccentric chin up, you should be aiming to add another few seconds onto your lowering speed. Once you can do 20 seconds comfortably, you will hold a dumbbell in the thighs and do the eccentric work with load.


You can then vary by doing eccentric work with different hand positions.


Step 4: Paused Eccentric Work


This is the final stage before being able to do a full chin up.


Start at the top with your clavicle on the bar and pause here for 2-3 seconds. Start to lower. Pause again when you reach just above half way for another 2-3 seconds, then once more at the half way point, then lower slowly to the full hang.


Once you have done all these steps – you are well and truly ready to do your first concentric chin up.


I would start at the bottom of the rep at full hang, and aim to pull up for 1 rep only, with a controlled eccentric of 3 or 4 seconds down.


If you have someone there to assist you, then allow them to assist you through 2 more repetitions for the concentric part of the rep, and lower down yourself for 4 seconds each time.


Once you can do 1 on your own with perfect technique, all you need to do is keep adding on 1 extra rep to your set each week. (Note here that if you are heavy, adding on a rep a week may not be achievable).


Good luck!

-V x



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