The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Building Strength For Chin-ups

beginners guide to building strength for chin ups

If you’re anyone who’s been disappointed for not being able to do a chin-up, you’re not alone. Truth is, chin-ups take a lot more than having a strong upper body. Being able to do extreme ninja stunts for your workout routine is one, but certain exercises like chin-ups need a lot more than that. 

To be able to do a proper chin-up, preparation and coordination on certain upper body muscle groups must be achieved first. To do this, you’ll need to be patient and consistently train them to reach the full strength necessary to do a chin-up.

For the best advice on building strength, we spoke to Matt, one of the personal trainers at Rec Xpress, a local gym.

Know the Right Muscles to Strengthen

These muscles on your upper body work in full strength when training for chin-ups: the shoulders, back (latissimus dorsi or lats), and biceps. Thus in preparation, these major muscle groups must be constantly trained and strengthened.

But did you know that your core also plays a vital role in this type of workout? Your core must be engaged and strong enough to help pull your whole body weight up. Also, shoulder alignment must be properly maintained. Getting a little tricky now, huh? Don’t worry, with the right exercises and a whole lot of patience, you’ll be cranking up those chin-ups in no time.

Condition Your Shoulders and Upper Body

For beginners who haven’t done any type of upper body strengthening workout, you must get your body accustomed to it. It’s best to build strength on the major muscle groups first before getting it on the bar. 

Dumbbell workouts

Grab on weights and start exercising your shoulder blades. This also helps maintain a proper body posture when immense pressure is felt in your shoulders. Work on light dumbbell weights while gradually increasing them all the way.

Read More: 6 Useful tips for Beginners to Build Hard Core Muscles


If dumbbells are not present, your body weight will do just fine. After all, chin-ups is all about carrying your whole body weight. Push-ups technically strengthen shoulder blades, biceps, and lats, while improving your posture all the same. Try different push-up variations so muscles are properly conditioned.


This bodyweight workout also works to strengthen your lats and shoulders and engage your core. As earlier told, the core must also be engaged in performing a chin-up. A strengthened core helps your upper muscles pull your whole bodyweight all the way up.

Get the ‘hang’ of it

Time to face the bar! After gaining strength from upper bodyweight training, start getting your body accustomed to your own bodyweight. These exercises will help do just that:

Timed hangs

With hands facing away from your body, and hang with feet off the ground on the bar. Make sure your abs is tight. Time it up and try to do the longest time you can handle it. This will help your hands get accustomed to a longer grip.

Read More: Top 7 Mindfulness Exercises with 3D Puzzle Games for a Healthy Mind and Body

Isometric chin-up

Now let’s work on your biceps. With a bench, jump and hold onto the bar with your chin high up and elbows bent. Maintain this position as long as you can. Do it multiple times and on much longer periods.

Suspended pull-ups

With a TRX suspension trainer, get your shoulder blades working. Grab its handles and pull your chest up towards it. Go through a series of reps with 10-second rests.

Work halfway through

Now with your muscle memory working from all the previous trainings, getting your chin-ups started will be more achievable. Work your way to the proper chin-up with these exercise tips:

Assisted Chin-ups

With the help of a resistance training band, perform your assisted chin-up on the bar. Loop it onto the bar handle and place two knees inside the loop. Start with both legs assisted, and try alternating it with one leg.

Eccentric chin-ups

Lowering yourself through a chin-up is much easier as gravity does it work to pull your weight down. But for a chin-up to be successful, lowering down must also be controlled by your own strength. With a bench, jump to the bar to start at a chin-up position and slowly low your body down with controlled strength. Repeat your way up, either with a bench or not, and train to lower your body while controlling it all the way down. This helps build the same strength to pull your body right up.

Practice makes perfect

Indeed it does! After following these exercise suggestions, you’ll find yourself slowly becoming accustomed to your own bodyweight and the discipline to pull your body up and down. As you go through it, remember to give your body the proper posture so injuries can be avoided.

Read More: Live Healthy & Strong with Perfect Lifestyle for a Toned Body

Burning question: What’s the difference between Chin-ups and Pull-ups?

These workouts may have a similar discipline but can differ in ways on how you do it, and on its effects on your muscles. To tell these two apart, you can look at these following factors:


Chin-ups use a supinated or underhand grip. This refers to both hands facing towards your body while performing it. Pull-ups, on the other hand, use a pronated or overhand grip, with your hands facing away from your body. Chin-ups may also be in a neutral grip or semi-supinated grip wherein palms face towards each other.

Strength focus

Chin-ups focus on strengthening the biceps more. A chin-up position makes your biceps work harder than the other major muscles. In pull-ups, however, you lats does the work more. Since you can work more on how wide your grip is on pull-ups, your back muscles are trained harder than they were during chin-ups.

Difficulty level

While a body’s strength differs from one person to another, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly which of this workout is harder to achieve than the other. But let’s try to define their difficulty levels through gender opposites. Most commonly, women find chin-ups more achievable than pull-ups. Men, on the other hand, prefer achieving pull-ups as the next step once they’ve mastered their chin-ups.

Chin-ups are no walk in the park for many, but achieving and mastering it will ultimately level up your upper body discipline and strength. With these tips and additional knowledge in mind, are you ready to work on that chin-up now? We’re here to cheer you on: You can do it with this bbeginners guide to building strength for chin ups!

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