ASK A TRAINER: Why Can’t I Do Even One Chin-Up?

zzzzzzzz lift and bitch 033Dear Fitbabe,

I really admire the picture of you doing a chin-up. I would love to be able to do them, even just one! How do you begin to get good at pull-ups/chin-ups? I am 49-year-old female and want to be able to do them before I turn 50 in 2 months to show off for my husband who is a retired police officer with a beer gut! I do body pump classes and drop in to FFG’s spin class periodically, but do not spend any time on my own in the weight room.
Any tips would be helpful!

Thanks,  Betty

Dear Betty,

1. I would start by incorporating band assisted pull-ups or machine assisted chin-ups into your program. In one workout, perform about 3 sets of 5-10 repetitions, taking a 60-90 second rest between each set. When this addition begins to get easier for you, it is time to move on to step 2.

2. Move over to the chin-up or pull-up bar, and begin to do “negative” movements: Jump up to the top position of a chin-up and go down as slowly as you can; this is called the eccentric phase. Jump up and repeat. Perform 3 sets of 5-10 repetitions with 90 seconds rest in between each set. After you get really good at these eccentric chin-ups, move on to step 3.

3. Do a damn chin-up. Just do it. Pull yourself up and then let yourself down: no jumping, no falling quickly in the eccentric phase. Do it in a controlled manner. JUST ONE. Then rest and do another one. Eventually you will be doing them all in a row.
Whenever you see a chin-up bar, do some. Then add sets of chin-ups into your “pull” days, or on the days when you train back. Of course, you can always hire me to put you on a push/pull split routine, if this interests you (Yes I just plugged my Personal Training services!). The more times you do assisted or negative chin-ups during the week, the better and stronger you’ll get, moving toward your goal of doing a full chin-up. Then you can get really bad ass by doing them on the Olympic rings! Incorporate the tips above and see how many you can do after a month.

Go on now….get it!


Deanna Harder: Fitness Leadership Diploma, CSEP-CPT (Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology-Certified Personal Trainer), and Figure Competitor

This entry was posted in Ask a Trainer and tagged by fitbabe. Bookmark the permalink.

About fitbabe

Deanna Harder is a college-certified, highly knowledgeable personal trainer, with over 20 years of experience. In addition to running her own business in Edmonton, she has competed in 6 figure competitions, and is always ready for a new challenge. Fitness Leadership Diploma, CSEP-CPT (Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology-Certified Personal Trainer)

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