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How can I work my way up to chin-ups? Add to ...

The question

I have been doing chest presses, flies and various biceps and triceps exercises. However, I am still unable to do chin-ups. Is there any way I can train myself to do chin-ups?

The answer

There are two main things missing from your routine: The first is back exercises. Since chin-ups require lots of upper-back strength, you need to incorporate upper-back exercises into your routine. The second are exercises where you have to lift your entire body weight.

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I would suggest a two-step process to build up that strength:

1. Incorporate back exercises that mimic the motion of a chin-up. The lat pull-down machine is perfect for this. Perform both wide grip and narrow grip lat pull-down exercises to simulate performing wide-grip and narrow-grip pull-ups.

2. Do modified chin-ups. If your gym has a gravitron machine, start by using that. If a gravitron machine is not available, do negative chin-ups using a chin-up bar. Negative chin-ups are beneficial because the body can always lower more weight then it can lift. To do a negative chin-up, jump up so your face is higher than the bar and then control down as slowly as possible. Over time you will get stronger and actually be able to lift yourself up.

Trainer's Tip: Use the bosu to help you with your negative chin-ups. Stand on a bosu with your hands on the chin-up bar. Use the bosu to propel yourself up so your face is higher than the bar, and then lower your weight down slowly.

Send certified personal trainer Kathleen Trotter your questions at trainer@globeandmail.com. She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

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The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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