I love chin-ups and pull-ups! They engage so many different muscles, and there are a hundred variations to keep things exciting. Think you're a pull-up pro and can't get much better? Check out the bar scene on Venice Beach for a humbling bit of perspective: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6nVX9txw6E
That stuff's incredible, but let's get back to a basic chin-up, which the majority of people can't do. Most of us spend our days behind a computer, at a desk, and barely mobile; we don't use our shoulders for anything anymore, and our arms are lucky if they get a five-minute workout doing dishes or cleaning up the house. But, I'm here to claim that most of you can learn to do a chin-up in a month! Guys, girls, in-shape, out-of-shape, give it a try! I'm convinced almost anyone can do it with a simple month of effort. And why do it? It'll start to tone you up, increase your mobility on everyday tasks, and give you a sense of accomplish which can translate to other goals (here's a task I wanted to complete, that I didn't think I could complete, and I did it!). Let's get to it!
1) Buy a bar for around $30. Pretty necessary. Even if you workout at a gym that has these accessible, it's way easier to complete a daily task if you can do it in the comfort of your home. No excuses. There are a bunch of different bars on Amazon, but my favorite is the classic: http://amzn.to/29HJLAB
2) Setup your bar in a doorway. I use a doorway that I have to pass each morning when I leave my bedroom - in sight, in mind. There are three different grips available, but the middle ones are for standard pull-ups and chin-ups. What's the difference? A pull-up uses a pronated grip (with your palms facing away from you), and a chin-up uses a supinated grip (with your palms facing toward you). Chin-ups are inherently easier, and engage less muscles, which is why we'll focus on them here. Once you've managed a chin-up, give pull-ups a try.
3) For the first week, just hang from the bar in chin-up position for a minute total each day - that's it! If you can only do 10 seconds at a time, then do 6 reps of hold.
4) For week 2, we'll work on engaging the arms and shoulders. We'll still aim for just a minute of hold time each day, but for half of that, make an effort to pull yourself up - we'll call this Time-Under-Effort (TUE). Don't expect to do it, but feel the strain, and aim for 75% effort. Note how, from a dead hang, your ears sit alongside your arms - now engage your shoulders, which should draw your head slightly up and back. Learning to engage your shoulders will help the start of a chin-up tremendously.
5) For week 3, we'll increase hold time to two minutes each day, and increase TUE to a full minute, still aiming for 75% effort. Don't be discouraged, we've still got two weeks! Feel the effort in your shoulders, biceps, and forearms. Try to keep strain out of your neck and back - no teeth grinding!
5a) Extra Credit! Either by jumping up or using a box, get your chin over the bar as if you've completed the chin-up. Then slowly lower yourself down. We call this an eccentric-only exercise, and it'll increase your strength in a flash!
6) Week 4, crunch time! Continue with two minutes of hang, and a full minute of TUE, but at least once in each session give 100% effort and try for that chin-up!
I love actionable goals with simple plans. I've had a few friends try variations of this and succeed in less than a month, and I'm betting you can to. Give it a try, and you may just find your new favorite piece of home workout gear!