It seems like so many people who train pretty frequently and live a good healthy lifestyle cannot not perform a well-executed chin-up. I am sure that there are many reasons why this is the case. such as: lack of knowing how to progress, lack of spending time on a progression until it gets easy(ish) and of course the fear and weakness mentality wherein the trainee doesn’t think that it is possible for them. Usually these people will express this with sayings as follows: “ that would be nice and do you think that I can?!”  So just before we get into this post and series, I want to share the fact with you that you can! You just haven’t trained yourself to do it and if you did, you didn’t stick to the program long enough to earn the movement or you weren’t training the right way to get to this goal of the upper pull.

So this series will take you through some of the progressions that I have found to people to their chin-up that have worked even in one session! But before we begin to dive into the progressions, let’s first talk about your mobility and stability; you see if you don’t have adequate mobility to get in the proper position you may never be able to do your first full upper pull. Simply due to the fact that you cannot fire the right stuff at full capacity in order to produce the strength needed to chin.

To me the most important position is your arm position. In other words can you get your arm or in-line with your ear without cheating (rib cage flair) ?


If no you have some work to do in order to better prevent injury mas you do chin-ups or as you work on the progressions that I am going to give to you in this series. Remember friends that mobility comes before stability and then strength comes into play; if you want to continue to keep making gains in your training, otherwise injury may end up derailing you.

There are a few things that can be the cause of this lack of good shoulder positioning for overhead work. There could be an under active muscle in the movement chain, so that your body shuts it down to protect your joints and muscles from tearing. It could just be a mobility restriction due to poor posture. Or it could be poor breathing patterns causing tightness in your t-spine and making you also unable to this move.

In order to find out what the problem is, you will want to do a corrective drill and see if your lock out gets any better. For example try breathing and then immediately reassess the issue and see if it improves if not try another drill and so-on until it does.

I won’t get into breathing and t-spine drills too much because I already wrote a post on this very subject.  (Click here to get it.)

However, I do want to talk about some ways that one can get their arm in the proper position to begin to do this movement for the long-term while better preventing injury.

As you know the beginning of this upper pulling move is abduction or arms away from your mid line. If you cannot achieve this position in your set up you may have either one of this problems or all in some regard:

You have tight lats that are pulling your arm forward and internally rotating your humerus. This is a simple one to fix, either do the bench thoracic opener or the deep squat lat  stretch popularized by Eric Cressey to help you get in the right position.

Next when a muscles is over active another is under active. So you will want to do some serratus drills and or low trap work to create better balance and overhead arm position.

Serratus activation:

Low Trap work:

Achieving your first chin-up may require more thought and effort on the front, but making sure that you can get in the right position, your chances of progress will go up. Also some of you may get your first chin with the help of these drills given above, if you have been training for one with no-avail. So get to work friends and keep following this blog for this series, my weekly workouts and other good stuff like the next few parts in this series!

  1. […] Getting your first or getting better at Chin-ups August 27, 2015 […]


  2. […] Getting your first or getting better at Chin-ups August 27, 2015 […]


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