Thursday, March 25, 2010

Doing My First Chin Up / Pull Up

Hi everyone. Firstly, sorry for the very late post this week. Work has been crazy for the past few days, so I didn’t get a chance to post anything. Now since I have a bit more time, I decided I better quickly write something, so I decided to write about doing chin ups / pull ups, because lots of people tell me they can’t do it and want to know how to train for it. So here are some tips to help you do your first chin up / pull up soon.

Before we continue on with this, it is important to note the difference between a chin up and a pull up. A full Chin Up or Pull Up is where the body is suspended by extended arms gripping a fixed bar, then pulled up until the elbows are bent and the head is higher than the hands. So that’s what you want to be aiming for. Not just pulling yourself half way up. Though the overall movement is similar, there is a huge difference in the grip which makes one easier and the other more difficult to do. A chin up is done with and underhand (supinated) grip. This is easier to do than a pull up which uses an overhand (pronated) grip. Both movements require tremendous upper body strength so if you still can’t do even 1 chin up or pull up, don’t worry or feel embarrassed about it. When I was younger, I couldn’t do 1 either. Follow these tips and hopefully, you will actually be able to do your first full chin up or pull up soon.


Heavy Weights Low Reps
As you know, doing a chin up or pull requires tremendous strength. In fitness, strength is basically your ability to get the muscles to do what you want them to do over a short period of time. So when it comes to chin ups, you want to be able to lift your body up. When it comes to training for strength, you want to use heavy weights and low reps. This basically helps to condition your Central Nervous System (CNS) to give you that jolt of strength that you need. When it comes to strength, a big part of how strong you are is the ability for your CNS to provide enough impulse to your muscle to act. The more practice the CNS gets at sending signals to the muscles telling them to move with great force, the stronger you become and the way to do that is to keep pushing on heavier and heavier weights. You want to primarily hit your biceps, back and shoulders real heavy as these are the primary muscles you will be using during a chin up or pull up. If these muscles are weak, then you are going to have a lot of trouble doing a complete chin up or pull up.

How heavy should you lift? You want to lift weights that only allows you to complete between 4 to 6 reps. So if you can lift more than 6, the weight is too light for you. Pick up something heavier! So when you train your biceps, back and shoulders, make sure you choose a weight that only allows you to complete between 4 to 6 reps.

Lose that Tummy
OK if you can’t do chin ups and have a bulging tummy, here is another reason to lose that tummy. The point is doing a chin up is hard enough already. So give yourself an added advantage by reducing any unwanted baggage that you are carrying with you and lose all that unwanted fat. Not saying you can’t do chin ups with all that fat around your stomach, but why add a disadvantage to yourself? So watch your diet, do more cardio, but work on reducing your body fat percentage. The leaner you become, the easier it will be to do a complete chin up.

Use the Law of S.A.I.D
Out of all the laws of fitness out there, this one has to be one of my favourites. The law of SAID stands for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. In normal English, what this means is, if you want to get good at something, just keep doing more of it. The closer you replicate your exercise to the actual movement, the better you will get at doing the actual thing. For example, if you want to get good at arm wrestling, doing lots of biceps curls is good but turning every workout you have into an arm wrestling contest will be better because that replicates the actual movement more than a bicep curl.

So when it comes to chin ups, doing bicep curls are OK, doing pulling exercises are good, pull downs are better, weight assisted chin ups are even better, but the best would be doing it with a spot. Now, when you spot someone for chin ups, the spotter doesn’t have to lift you up and down. He just provides a resting place for your feet and you push off just enough with your legs to get you going. In other words, you decide how much assistance you need and who knows better than you yourself. The less assistance you rely on, the better. So try your best to use as little as your legs as you can. As you improve, you will rely less and less on your legs until finally you can do it without any assistance.

Sticking Points
Now as you improve, you will be able to do a partial chin up and somewhere in the middle of the movement, you are going to get stuck and this is what they call the sticking point. One of the best ways to overcome sticking points is to do isometric exercises. So lift yourself up to your sticking point (no assistance), and once you reach it, hold that position as long as you can. Keep doing sets of this exercise and you will soon find you will be able to overcome this dreaded sticking point. Now this isometric exercise should be in addition to your normal workout following the law of SAID and not a replacement of it.

So there you have it. Some tips to help you overcome you inability of doing chin ups or pull ups. If you follow all these tips, I guarantee you will be able to do chin ups in no time. How long it takes is up to you and how hard to train and follow these tips. But remember, everyone can do it as long as you have the right tools…. And these tips help you to have the tools.

Go ahead, try it and I hope those who can’t do chin ups now will be able to overcome this and do chin ups. It really isn’t as hard as you think it is. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments

15 comments:

Aizan Suhaira said...

I can do chinups and pullups. But not many reps. How do I increase my reps?

Rajan said...

Aizan: to do more you need to get stronger at doing chin ups / pull ups. so try lifting a 5 - 10 pound dumbbell when you do chin ups / pull ups. Progressively increase the weights a little by little while doing your best to maintain the number of reps you can do. SO if for example, now you can do 5 reps, when you add in a 5 pound dumbbell try to reach 5. Once you can reach 5 reps, add a bit more. Do this for about 6 to 8 weeks and then try doing chin ups without those added weights. you should be able to easily surpass your original number. Hope this helps

Anba said...

Thanx a lot... i used to do chin up when i was at my old home, using the doors top edges, tree branches any bar or ledge i could rest my hand on jadi mangsa pun ...
Once bars become boring... rope climbing is an excellent substitute...
another trick i read to increase reps..is using pyramid system..
if for example a person can do only 4-5 reps
they can use 1-2-3-2-1 reps...

Do one time then rest...then 2 times rest then do 3 times and rest then do 2 times again rest then do 1 time...
When resting you can imagine another person is doing the same amount of reps like you did b4 before continuing on your won reps..
instead of doing 4 times a set and do 3 sets...
this way the muscle it's not too tired to perform and less injury...
Repeat this system for 2 weeks...
then try im sure they can hit more than 5 times at a go...

Lexis Excellence said...
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Lexis Excellence said...
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Rajan said...

Anba: great tips man.

Rajan said...

Lexis: Aaah. Gtg. I wanted to recommend that as well but i forgot the exact schematics of it. Need to put that into your book as well. What can i say, i love the law of SAID.

Lexis Excellence said...
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Lexis Excellence said...
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Rajan said...

Lex: So when are we starting classes for fitness science level 2.

Anonymous said...

Any recommendation where to get a doorway chin up bar locally in Klang Valley? I went to Fitness Concept and they are out of stock.

mikami_yakuza said...

where can i buy or order the chin up bar from malaysia or from malaysia online shop?.....

Gopirajan said...

Hai,

Its nice to go thru your blog. Very informative.

I just started going to gym and i need to ask you one question.

How do i train to get bigger arms?

Should i follow the more weight less reps routine?

Thanks!!

Mohd Hizammi said...

i can do up tu 10 reps of chin up,but not even one reps of pull up

Mohd Hizammi said...
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