Want to get in shape without a lot of complicated exercises? It is possible. Unfortunately, many people buy into the idea that you need to learn a bunch of difficult moves just to build some muscle. Others spend hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars on gym memberships and home fitness equipment because they think working out requires a lot of different tools. This, too, is a myth. In fact, you can sculpt the body you want with a few key exercises that can be done by almost anyone, anywhere.
One of the best moves you can incorporate into your exercise routine is the chin up. Perhaps the best part of chin ups, though, is that you can do them with minimal equipment. All you really need is a strong horizontal bar. To get this at home, consider investing in a door frame chin up bar. These pieces are easy to install and support at least two hundred pounds of weight. Plus, most can be used without ever damaging your door frame.
To do a traditional chin up, hold a bar with hands facing you. Let your body hang down, then, simply pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar. This works your entire upper body, with special focus on your back and bicep muscles. Specifically, a chin up will target your latissimus dorsi (lat), brachialis, brachioradialis, bicep, tricep, teres major, teres minor, posterior deltoid, lower trapezius, pectoralis, and more. Very few other exercises can boast such an extensive list of utilized muscles with such a simple movement.
Not strong enough to do a traditional chin up? Don’t worry; you can reverse the regular movement to boost your arm strength. Using a chair, let your legs assist in getting to the top of the chin up motion. Then, simply lower your body down as slowly and with as much control as possible, without the chair. Over time, these so-called negative chin ups will help you build muscle and endurance so you can upgrade to a full chin up. You can also do negative chin ups at the end of your workout to push your muscles past the point of exhaustion and promote faster growth.
Once you’ve mastered a regular chin up, you may want to try some simple variations. By flipping your hands, so palms face away, you can switch to an overhand (sometimes called a pull up) pose. This puts greater emphasis on your elbow flexor and forearm muscles. If you switch only one arm to an overhand position, this variation is called a mixed grip. A mixed grip chin up is ideal for stronger individuals who need a new way to challenge their muscles. Remember, though, you want to work both sides equally with this exercise. So, do an even number of sets and switch hands each time.
In addition to changing hand positions, you can also opt for a wide or narrow grip chin up. In a wide grip chin up, you simply move your hands as far apart as you comfortably can. In this position, your muscles, including your lats, teres major, biceps, and rear deltoids, have to work considerably harder. Meanwhile, during a narrow grip chin up, you move your hands closer together, which helps lengthen your lat muscles.
In addition to building a strong upper body, you can also use your chin up bar to work your abdominal muscles. Simply hold onto the bar and lift your lower body by contracting your abs. For an additional variation, consider getting some ab straps that can help you support your arms during the lower body movement.
For an ideal chin up workout, try incorporating several variations into one routine. This way, you will truly work your upper body from every angle. Also, you should focus less on number of repetitions and more on reaching muscle exhaustion. As any weight trainer knows, you cannot build muscle without “maxing out.” So, after one or two sets of each variation, you may want to do a final set where you work until you cannot do another chin up.
Ultimately, doing chin ups is a great way to reshape your body. Not only will you boost all the muscles mentioned here, but you can also improve your posture and core strength. Remember, though, as with any exercise proper technique is necessary to get the most from your chin ups and prevent injury. The right chin up bar can help you master your form and make getting in shape quicker and easier than you ever imagined.
Let me give my personal recommendation to a perfect chin up bar solution. I live in an area where I just did not have room for a traditional chin up bar. Especially one of those free standing chin up bars for the corner of a room. So instead I opted to try the P90X Chin Up Bar, and I have been very impressed. I have used the same bar for approximately 3 years now. It works great today, the same as it did when I first started using it. It also works great if you are working out with P90X, where chin ups are done frequently.