Video Demo: Working towards that first Chin Up

Want to do Chin Ups?

Chin ups (chins, pull ups) is one of the "big lifts". It's a big test of strength and is an advanced and difficult movement. But not impossible!

This is a fantastic full upper body exercise to build strength and mobility.

I also find it incredibly empowering to be able to do chins. I see the sheer satisfaction reflected in my clients when they achieve their first chin up all the time. You will find that every training session with chins ends up with you leaving the gym with your head held a little higher and your back a bit more straight - because of the achievement.

I believe anyone can do chins or a modified version of chin ups. And that means that YOU can too!

I've put together this series (which connects to the other series) to help prepare you for chin ups.

The exercises that are right for you depend on your experience in the gym, your build, existing strength and mobility.

Add these into your weights training program and check out my other video demo for more chin up practice.

Give it a go and let me know!

Grace xx



There are three different types of grip: 

  • Supinated or “Underhand”, on a normal crossbar
  • Semi-Supinated or “Neutral”, where your fists are facing each other - you will need to use parallel bars for this
  • Pronated or “Overhand”, on a normal crossbar

When you’re starting out, you should stick with a semi-supinated grip or even supinated. Leave the pronated grip for later on.


Exercise 1: Dead Hangs

One of the struggles with pull ups is grip strength which is (obviously) super important to help you do a chin up.

Dead hangs with different grip variations can help you really improve that grip strength and build up your tolerance.

It's also a simple movement to add to your current regime. Beware: it's harder than it looks!

Reps: 5 x 5 seconds then 10 seconds, changing your grip for each rep using all three grips


Exercise 2: Scap Retractions

It's really important to get the back muscles activitated to get that stimulus to pull yourself up.

This exercise helps you build them up while also working on your grip strength.

You can do this with different grips. I've demonstrated with supernated but use all the different grips.

Reps: 5 x 5 retractions, add a pause as you get stronger


Exercise 3: Lat Pulldowns

This is one of the most relevant back exercises for chin ups. Even though the moment is pulling rather than pulling, it is still a similar muscle groups.

Keep your spine neutral while leaning back a little, engage the belly and go for the full movement at the top, full extended.

Activate the pull with your back - watch my lats and shoulder blades in the video.

Reps: Go for 3 sets of 8 or 10 with a 1:4 rhythm - down in one count, slower and controlled up to 4 counts. Use all three grips - you may need to change the bar for the semi-supinated grip. 


Exercise 4: Pronated Grip Bar Bicep Curls

Sometimes people, especially women, lack a little upper body strength.

Women tend to do less bicep curls or biceps movements than men (if this is all you do... it might be considered a mirror muscle exercise). 

While chin ups are essentially a back exercise, you have to use the arms too so let's not leave them out!

This is a great one for building that arm strength as well as grip strength when using the pronated grip as shown here.

Reps: 3 x 8 or 10 with pronated grip, 1:4 tempo - down for 1 count, up for 4.


Here's the full video!


And check out the video from the previous article too!