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Working toward a chin-up

Posted by Elizabeth Comeau  April 10, 2013 07:00 AM

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RyanHealy100.jpgRyan Healy is a personal trainer for the Lynch/van Otterloo (LVO) YMCA in Marblehead. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA, and earned her BS in Exercise Sports Science from Elon University. Find more posts by her in conjunction with the LVO YMCA at She can be reached at

Let’s face it; chin-up and pull-up variations are exercises that look both awesome and tough. Who doesn’t want to be able to do one? They work primarily the muscles in your back, but also your biceps, forearms, and core, giving you a lot of bang for your buck. Working up to your first one can be challenging though. Here are some alternative exercises that will help you to eventually clear the bar!

Band Assisted Chin-ups

Helpful Hints

- The chin-up (underhand) grip is great to start with because of the additional assistance you get from your arms
- Stepping on the band with both feet gives you the most assistance, while putting one knee in the band gives you the least
- High quality bands of varying resistance are a necessity
- At the bottom of the movement, tuck shoulder blades down, brace the abdominals, and lift chest up to bar keeping the chin slightly tucked
- Gradually decrease the resistance of the band used as you get stronger until a band is no longer needed
- Check out this video for tips on cleaning up your chin-up technique

Suspension Trainer Chin-up Progressions

Helpful Hints
- Attach suspension trainer to a tall anchor point and over shorten the straps
- Choose one of these variations that you can complete with excellent form, and if they’re too difficult then start with the inverted row first
- Try not to use the legs to push off the ground

Give these two exercises a shot and watch your progress sky rocket! For more information on performing your first chin-up, see this excellent series of articles by Tony Gentilcore.

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.


Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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