Welcome back to our new real [FIT] life series, You can ace this.
The whole purpose of this series will be to teach you how to master exercises you never thought you could do. Seriously, rock star lifts and super impressive feats that can make you feel like a badass in the gym. This will also be a lesson in progressions. Learning how to use various exercises as building blocks to gradually build up the necessary strength, coordination, proprioception, and even confidence to be able to tackle what we’ll refer to as that final Pinnacle exercise.
This month’s featured exercise is the Chin up. Last week, in Part II, we learned about Inverted rows and Band assisted chin ups. Both exercises help train many of the fundamental skills needed to be able to eventually perform a body weight chin up. In addition, they are great training choices regardless, for building upper body strength and core strength. If you missed those and want to learn about them, you can click here.
This week we are going to learn about dead hangs, eccentric chin ups, and another TRX pulling variation.
Not everyone necessarily needs to use this exercise as part of their training regime. I find this is a helpful exercise for people who need to work on grip strength but are not strong enough for any of the pulling variations that involve hanging from the bar, and for clients who have a general fear of hanging from a bar.
You can use an overhand or underhand grip on the bar, whichever you prefer. If you can’t reach the bar overhead, use a box. Once you have a firm grip on the bar, bend your knees with your feet behind you and cross your ankles. Be mindful of your shoulders and back, as this isn’t literally a dead hang. You want to maintain tension in your back, shoulders, and armpits while you hang from the bar. Time yourself and progressively, try to hang from the bar for a longer duration of time.
Here’s a video:
Eccentric chin ups
The lowering phase of the chin up requires control and practicing this part of your chins can make you stronger. These are a lot harder than they appear to be. It’s important to make sure you control your body for the entire range of motion of the lowering phase, all the way to the bottom portion.
Stand on a box if necessary with the bar above you. Take a firm grip on the bar, arms fully extended. Jump up until your chin is over the bar, elbows bent and HOLD there with your chin over the bar for as long as you can. When you can’t hold anymore, slowly lower yourself with full control until your arms are fully extended again. Try not to just drop at any point.
Just like the dead hangs, time yourself and make it your goal to be able to hold for longer and to also lower yourself as slowly as possible. Warning: the first time I did these, my arms were super sore the next day!
If you are not strong enough to jump to where your chin is over the bar, have a friend give you a little hoist to help you up or try using a higher box.
Here’s a video:
TRX pulls, phase 2
In Week 1, I showed you a TRX pull variation, performed kneeling on the floor, which is great for starting out. You can view that here. Here is another progression you can use once you’ve gotten full mileage out of the kneeling variation. This, of course, makes it harder all over again.
I had mentioned that I got this terrific idea from Tony Gentilcore. Well, through further research, I also learned that Tony got these great exercise ideas from Elsbeth Vaino, and he does credit her. I would like to thank her as well. These TRX variations have been invaluable when coaching my clients and they really enjoy performing them. I’m hoping that you like them too.
In this second phase, you are going to sit on the floor, hands grasping the TRX handles with a neutral grip (palms facing each other). Keep your torso tight and tension in your arms and armpits as you pull your chest to the handles and hips rise off of the floor. When you lower back down use control and keep everything tight.
If it helps, brace your feet against a heavy plate or box.
Here’s a video:
That’s it for this week! Next week is our last segment for chin ups. See you then!
Remember, there is no necessary timeline in which you have to master these exercises. Doing them correctly is far more important than what variation you are working on. Having patience and staying consistent with your efforts will give you far better results long term.
Please let me know if you have any questions, by writing in the comment section.
Now get out there!
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Jeannine Trimboli, CEO, real [FIT] life