Not by the hair of your chinny chin... chin up


My tips to achieving and improving your chin ups


There are certainly many ways to go about achieving a chin up, but to date, there has been a standout method for my clients


I have done a few workshops with Ido Portal and he covers in great detail, the ins and out of improving strength on the bar


His methods not only are a good way of achieving your first chin up,


But also a good way of building a really good strength base


This blog will highlight 5 simple but important points to achieving and/or building on your pulling strength, (some points derived from Ido’s Methods).


So without further ado!


1. Hanging


You want to get a chin a up, but first you must ask yourself, can I even really grip the bar? A big focus point on Ido’s workshops is spending a generous amount of time hanging.


It’s not only to build up strength and conditioning in your grip, but also to build up strength in some of your soft tissue muscles.


Why is this important?


It’s a bit of injury prevention. I mean there are no guarantees, but do the work with hanging will get you stronger and quite possibly... you'll experience less roadblocks along the way.


Ido has this 30 day hang challenge, where you are to work on hanging every day for obviously 30 days. The goal is to do 7 minutes of accumulated (not all in one go by the way) hangs per day. Not easy, but achievable. 


It's the work I believe you need to do, but most skip this part because it's not "the fun stuff". In other words, you'd prefer to jump into other exercises to which you are probably not ready for, but you do them anyhow because they appear to be more fun. Do the hanging first, it's worth it.


How do you do it? Well at the end of this blog, there is Ido's indepth article/blog on hanging, so please have a read. For now though, provided your shoulders are ok to do so, simply grab onto a bar at a height comfortable to you. Either fully hang (feet off of the ground) or have your feet place lightly on the ground or supporting surface and just try to relax into your hang. One of the cue's I have been using is to almost "drip away from the bar"




You really want a chin up? You've got to dot your i's and cross your t's then. I'll say it again, do the hanging, it's important!



2. Scapula Pull ups and Scapula Push ups


The last workshop I attended with Ido’s team was Movement X in Melbourne. 4 years ago I attended Movement X in Adelaide. Their focus then, is still their focus now. What's that you say?


Scapula Strength and Stability!


This ties in with your hanging. I am going to attempt to quote one of the instructors on the day here… “for some people, achieving their first chin up isn’t necessarily inhibited by a bicep weaknesses, it’s actually a scapula stability weakness.”


They were very big on straight arm work, (scapula strengthening and mobilization) complimenting bent arm work (like chin ups and dips).


Again I re-iterate, it’s not the fun stuff


But if you do it, it might pull you (pun intended 😉) closer to a chin up, prevent some of those injuries or niggles that keep coming up in your upper body training and…


It might get you stronger than you have been before with your training!


Here's the vids :)



3. Negative Chin Ups


Ido’s words, (to the best of my memory) Movement Meet In Sydney, 2018. “Doing chin ups with bands either give you too much assistance or too little”.




They don’t used bands, they use body weight or assistance from a partner


Watch the video on the recent cues to do negatives


The next part of this blog is of course another important part.



4. Volume (greasing the groove)


Greasing the Groove - a term used by Pavel Tsatsoulline. Basically the guy that brought kettlebells to the US. So what is the term greasing the groove?


Greasing the groove is doing the same exercise, with great frequency, however not going to fatigue


It’s consistent practice right!?!


So you need to get out there and do those exercises. Build your base with your hang and you scapula exercises. Then when you can do a negative, start working on building volume…




Once you feel like you are adapting, then you can turn the volume up


Getting your first chin up, may well entail doing negatives at home say on the weekend, (with that bar or set of rings you’ve set up, cos you’ve told me you want a chin up 😊) Several times in the day!


You could do a negative or 2, go off and do something else, then do another again (when you are feeling fresh or ready to perform another rep with great control and technique). You'll end up doing this several times in one day. 


Of course as stated before, not going to fatigue.


Make sense?


5. Body composition


Are we allowed to talk about body weight these days?


In all seriousness, and I’m not trying to be a pric……. But obviously it is easier if we are a bit lighter when it comes to getting a chin up


It’s not impossible!


But it’s a little easier to achieve when you are also working on reducing weight


I know if I am a couple of kilos heavier, it certainly makes getting my chin above the bar a lot more challenging.


In terms of health, marry a focus on nutrition when trying to get stronger. It’s a total win win situation all round.


To finish, here is an in-depth blog on hanging alone from Ido himself


I will say, if you want to get a chin up, then get some help


Having someone guide you through the right ways to do your exercises, or to assist you will help you significantly


Happy training everyone!

Scott Jenkins