Recently, I did my first chin ups. It was the first time since I was a kid that I’ve done one, and I was thrilled to be able to do it again. I had a trainer that was trying to get me to do them a while ago, but I was not successful. But practicing on my own and using the technique that P90x teaches allowed me to finally do them. Here’s how I did it:
1. Building my upper body: Pull ups require a lot of upper body strength — many women don’t possess this naturally in the way that men do. I started building my upper body with weight machines like the lat pull down, rowing machines, and cables to build chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps. I also did a vigorous yoga program that includes sun salutations, side arm balance, crane, head stands/hand stands, and other upper body strengthening poses.
2. Easy does it: pull ups are hard enough as they are – so why go for the most difficult kind at first? I started by going for chin ups first – the grip (palms facing you) makes them a little easier to do than the standard pull ups (palms away). Also, it’s easier if you keep your grip standard – about shoulder distance apart. Wide or close grip pull ups can be more difficult and should be attempted when you are more advanced.
3. Getting support: When I worked with my trainer, he put me on a pull up bar and said, “OK, do a pull up.” Obviously that wasn’t going to happen – there was no way I could pull up all of my weight from hanging straight down with feet dangling in the air. I needed to decrease the amount of weight I was pulling. I learned that you can practice the pull up move by resting one or both feet on a chair and pulling up a portion of your weight. As I got stronger, I tried to just barely rest one foot on the chair while pulling up as much of my weight as I could handle. One day, I was able to one pullup. The next time, I tried for two, and I did it. As I get stronger, I see how many I can do. Right now, I’m up to 6 at one time without a chair.