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How to Do a Chin-Up in Ten Easy Steps

Updated on January 28, 2013

Chin-up are one of the best exercises to develop some serious back muscles. This exercise will lead to impressive biceps as well. You will also look really cool doing them and gain instant respect from everyone in the gym. The first time I did a chin-up I felt like I was flying.

The strategy is to begin with the assisted chin-up machine, and gradually lift more of your weight by yourself. Eventually you will graduate to the unassisted chin-ups and continue to build rock solid muscles. If you just follow these ten easy steps you will achieve this goal in record time.

Assisted Chin-up/Pull-up Machine
Assisted Chin-up/Pull-up Machine | Source

Meet the Assisted Chin-up/Pull-up Machine

The assisted chin-up machine must become your new best friend at the gym. This machine helps you do chin-ups by effectively reducing the amount of weight you have to lift. Contrary to other machines at the gym, a higher weight actually means it is easier. If this assisted weight was set exactly at your body weight it wouldn't take any effort, and if it was set to zero you would be doing an unassisted chin-up.

Step 1: Find the correct weight for your first set of assisted chin-ups.

Begin by choosing a weight that is close to your body weight, but a little less. For example, if you weigh 100 pounds put the pin on 90 pounds for your first set. Position yourself on your knees and do 10 slow repetitions with perfect form, all the way up and all the way down. Remember this is not a ride at Disney World so don't fly up and down quickly without putting in any effort.

Using perfect form will lead to strong muscles and the ability to do chin-ups unassisted.

Step 2: Do your second set at a weight that is more challenging.

Move the pin 10 pounds less, and do a second set of eight repetitions. If you were on 90 pounds try this set at 80 pounds. Don't forget to use perfect form.

Step 3: Now do your third set.

You guessed it! Do your third set of six repetitions at a weight that is ten pounds less than your previous set.

Step 4: Three is the number.

The magic number is three. Do 3 sets at the 3 different weights a minimum of 3 times each week. Do them every other day rather than consecutive days to give your muscles a rest.

How many chin-ups can you do?

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Step 5: Challenge yourself a little more each week.

The second week start at a weight that is ten pounds lower. For example if you began with 90 pounds then on the second week do you first set at 80 pounds, the second set at 70, and the third set at 60. If you are unable to complete at least four repetitions at your new target weight (60 in this example), continue to start at the higher assist weight for the rest of the week. Each successive week you should attempt to decrease the weight by 10 pounds, but don't ever do a lower assist weight than you are able to complete with good form. Don't worry about accomplishing this in any particular time frame. Just make sure you are consistently doing the exercise three or four times a week and you will eventually make progress.

Fun Facts About Chin-Ups

  • On December 29,1994 Lee Chin-Yong completed 612 consecutive chin ups. He was 69 years old.
  • Jack LaLanne did 1000 chin ups in an hour to promote his fitness show at age 45.
  • Chin-ups improve grip strength and work the abdominal muscles as well as the back and bicep muscles due to the required stabilization.

Step 6: Try pulling yourself off the machine.

Are you having fun yet? Once you can easily do all three sets at the lightest weight on the assisted chin-up machine, try pulling your body a little off the platform. If you can do this you are ready to try the real thing - unassisted chin-ups.

Step 7: Try your first unassisted chin-up.

Find a chin-up bar at home or in the gym, or see if your machine allows you to fold up the seat. Try just doing one chin-up and don't worry if your body swings a little. Didn't I tell you this was fun and that you would feel like you are flying?

This is perfect form.

Step 8: Focus on your form.

You should establish perfect form before you try to increase the number of chin-ups you can do. Here are requirements for good form on a chin-up:

  • Your hands should be approximately shoulder-width apart.
  • Cross you legs behind your back to maintain body stability and avoid that swing.
  • Let yourself down until your arms are completely straight.
  • Pull yourself up until your chin is slightly higher than the bar.
  • Move slowly and evenly, without swinging.

Step 9: Try to increase your number of chin-ups.

Once you have mastered perfect form you can begin increasing numbers. Start by doing only one chin-up a minimum of three times a week. Again don't practice your chin-ups on consecutive days so that your muscles can rest. The following week try to do two at a time. If you can't increase to two chin-ups do only one for another week and try to do two the following week.

Source

Step 10: Reward yourself!

Finally, reward yourself with some new clothing to show off those new muscles. Warning: you might find yourself doing spontaneous chin-ups in random places in public, just to show off! Keep practicing and enjoy the process and soon you will be doing ten consecutive chin-ups and feeling like a super hero!

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    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      I must see if my local chin has one of these machines. I would be willing to try doing this. :)

    • healthylife2 profile image
      Author

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      @DreamerMeg...It is such a great exercise to accomplish and can definitely be done with consistent practice. Let me know how it goes. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment! Hope to see you again!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      This was my strength at school....perhaps I have strong arms!! I loved chin ups more than I did short sprints. I was slow at those, but great with the chin ups. Could hold on for a minute. A great way to exercise...thanks for the lovely health tips, healthy life! Votes up and away.

    • healthylife2 profile image
      Author

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      @Midget38..You must have bionic arms! It took me a few months following this process to be able to do just one. Thank you so much for your vote and comment!

    • rajendrabaru profile image

      rajendra kumar baru 4 years ago from Rourkela, India

      I never do workout, i think another 10 years after i do. just play outdoor game, is better than workout. also YOGA.

    • healthylife2 profile image
      Author

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      @Rajendrabaru...Any type of exercise is beneficial. Thanks for the visit and comment!

    • profile image

      rajendrabaru 4 years ago

      Thanks for accept me on yours hub, do yoga great Indian RAMDEV BABA visited last year to USA and teach many people yoga, just 30 min a day is enough for yoga.

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      Great tips.. I have always struggled with doing chin ups and pull ups. However, I bet with this technique you should be doing them in no time. I do P90X and that exercise is a big part of the program. I do assisted ones, but it seems difficult to get better without using the type of equipment they have at the gym. Maybe one day I will get there. Great tips for getting a chin up!

    • healthylife2 profile image
      Author

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      barbergirl28...I think pull ups and chin ups are a challenge for everyone and I see very few people doing them in the gym. You absolutely could do these if you decide to make it a goal some day:) I started from the very bottom with no athletic background or upper body strength whatsoever and used this technique to do my first one. I then increased numbers. If I don't do them consistently they get really difficult and I have to work on increasing my numbers again. Thanks so much for the comment and the share!

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      I am not really in great muscular shape but can do a couple chin ups. I exercise regularly and am building my arms and back muscles. I need one of those bars since I do not go to a club. Thanks for the help.

    • healthylife2 profile image
      Author

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      I'm very impressed Hyphenbird! Very few people in my gym can do any chin ups. You must be in great shape if you can even do a few. It's great that you exercise regularly coupled with your healthy eating. It's convenient to have the bar at home to practice and they aren't that expensive. Thanks for the comment and it's always great to see you!

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      that was very good tips and suggestion how to fo chin up!

    • healthylife2 profile image
      Author

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Thank you for the comment and visit unknown spy!

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Excellent tips. The only way I was able to master the chinup was to do it before each workout. At first, nothing would happen, but bit by bit, my strength improved so now I can do several unassisted. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • visionandfocus profile image

      visionandfocus 4 years ago from North York, Canada

      Wow, I never even knew there's a machine to help you do chin-ups. I only wish my gym had one. *grrrr* Thanks for sharing!

    • healthylife2 profile image
      Author

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      @alocsin...When focusing on trying to master an exercise it is a good idea to do it before the workout when you are your strongest. I couldn't do any either when I first began. Congratulations on accomplishing the chin up! It takes a significant amount of upper body strength. Thanks so much for the comment and the vote!

    • healthylife2 profile image
      Author

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      @visionandfocus...The machine works really well as long as you are consistent and determined. It works to build the exact muscles you need to accomplish the chin up. Maybe your gym has a similar machine or some people use the bands to build up to this exercise. Maybe an employee at the gym could help. Thanks so much for your visit and comment!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      I am reminded of school time when I would do like 10 chin ups absolutely unassisted by just hanging onto a horizontal bar and going for it. Your hub has made me want to look out for a suitable bar to try it out once more though its been a long long time since I last did them in college.

      This is a useful and interesting hub. Voted as such.

    • healthylife2 profile image
      Author

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      @rajan jolly...If you were able to do them in the past you can definitely do them again. I'm so happy this hub inspired you to give them a try. You can find the bars online and they can be installed on the wall or even in a doorway. I hope you challenge yourself and have some fun. Thanks so much for the comment and vote!

    • daisyjae profile image

      daisyjae 4 years ago from Canada

      I can do zero chin ups at this point. Maybe if i follow your tips i can do more. Rated up & useful.

    • healthylife2 profile image
      Author

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      @Daisyjae...These steps really work. I had no upper body strength whatsoever when I began but followed these steps and now can do them. You will love the feeling of being able to do your first one. Good luck and thanks so much for your comment and vote! Hope to see you again!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great hub with all good tips and advice within this well written on how to properly do chin-ups . Well done !

      Vote up and more !!! SHARING !

    • healthylife2 profile image
      Author

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      @Kashmir56....Thank you so much. I used this technique to finally master the exercise and now am focusing on increasing numbers so I make sure it's the first exercise I do in the gym before I get too tired.It takes a lot of effort but I still enjoy the feeling of flying up and down. Thanks so much for your comment and vote and especially the share. I hope you stop by again!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Hi, I haven't done these for years! lol! great information and something we should all give a try, voted up! nell

    • healthylife2 profile image
      Author

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Give it a try Nell! You might find you can still do them.Thanks so much for taking the time to visit and comment!

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

      As I get older, it is harder to do these. There is a machine at my gym where a person can do this. I may give it a try. It is just so high.. LOL. Excellent information! Sharing!

    • Lauryallan profile image

      Lauryallan 4 years ago

      You just reminded me of one of the best exercises I used to do - the chin up. They are hard, but you know you are fit when you can do these. They also tone your upper body so well and don't take long and you can see improvement in super quick time.

    • healthylife2 profile image
      Author

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      @tammyswallow...Give the machine a try the next time you are at the gym. Make sure you warm up and stretch first and don't look down:) I'm afraid of heights and usually close my eyes when doing chin- ups so I don't look down. Thank you so much for your comment and I really appreciate the share!!

    • healthylife2 profile image
      Author

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      @Lauryallan...I'm glad I reminded you of this exercise. I agree that they are really hard and right now I just add one new rep each week to increase my numbers. I do them before my workout while I have the strength and it's a great confidence booster and motivator for the rest of my workout. Thanks so much for taking the time to read this and comment!

    • dwachira profile image

      [ Danson Wachira ] 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Hi healthylife2,

      This is a useful suggestion about Chin-Up exercises, this form of exercise is better especially because it does not require much space. The steps in here are easy to follow. Voted up, useful and shared.

    • healthylife2 profile image
      Author

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      @dwachira...This is a great upper body exercise and the bar can even be put in a doorway. Thanks for the kind comment as I was hoping the steps were something anyone can follow to accomplish this exercise. Thanks so much for the vote and especially the share!

    • healthylife2 profile image
      Author

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      @Arielqiao...Most people can't do any chin ups so one is impressive. Once you can do one you can gradually increase numbers. Men do have more natural upper body strength but we can also attain it. We just have to work harder:) I hope you focus on increasing your numbers because the chin up is such a good exercise to strengthen the back and biceps. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment!

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 4 years ago from Brazil

      I am more of a push up person, the floor was always closer when I collapsed. LOL

      But seriously, these are good steps to try. I always seemed like the only kid who couldn't do them without assistance. Someone once said that long levered people find exercises such as this more difficult. I have no idea if this is the case. I have long arms and legs and have been using this as an excuse for many years. You know what they say, if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffled them with bulls**t!

    • healthylife2 profile image
      Author

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      @Blond Logic...LOL I..like push ups too and that is an awesome upper body strength exercise. I think we all excel at coming up with excuses as to why we can't do certain exercises:) I like your philosophy(if you can't dazzle them...) and think it is one used by many politicians The next time you are in the gym look for the assisted pull up machine and just for fun do a few although not sure what fitness equipment is available in Brazil. It's fun every now and then to challenge yourself to prevent boredom! Thanks so much for the visit and the comment!

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 4 years ago from Thailand

      A helpful guide. I hadn't heard of this machine before, a clever idea. I also enjoyed reading the comments, some were quite funny ;-).

      Shared, pinned, tweeted, up and useful.

    • healthylife2 profile image
      Author

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Hi Brett! The machine works so well to build the muscles needed for the chin up and is a great way to measure progress. This technique worked well for me and I'm not even a little athletic so it should work for many people. Comments can sometimes be almost as much to read as some of the hubs:) Thanks so much for the share,pin,tweet, and vote!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I can do up to 100 (guy) push ups a day (depending on my stress level) but can NOT do a chin up. I have tried! I remember the monkey bars in elementary school...kids whizzing by me and me struggling with the first bar, but I got even with kickball:)

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 3 years ago from Oakley, CA

      I used to be able to do chin-ups, or at least pull-ups on the door frame. That was in my younger days. However, now, I doubt I could do even one. I don't have the budget for a gym membership, so must exercise with what I have at home. That means the dreaded crunches, push-ups, and small hand weights.

      When you consider that there is very little grip space offered by a door frame casing, you're not only talking arm strength, but a lot of hand and finger strength as well, and I sure don't have much anymore! :-(

      Very good points you've made here. Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • healthylife2 profile image
      Author

      Healthy Life 3 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      100 guy pushups Sunshine625...wow!!! On a good day I can do ten. When I was a kid I couldn't do any chin ups so I guess I had to learn as an adult. Exercise is a great stress reliever:)

    • healthylife2 profile image
      Author

      Healthy Life 3 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Some of the best and hardest exercises are bodyweight exercises DzyMsLizzy. After working with trainers for many years I have to say my most challenging workouts did not involve any equipment. I used to have a pull up bar in the door frame but moved it to the basement. I agree it requires some serious grip strength which is one of mt weaknesses and prevents me from lifting heavier weights.The important thing is to exercise and challenge yourself regardless of your level. Always nice to see you and thanks for the vote!

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