At One with the Water, we don’t just offer premium swim lessons. As a strength and conditioning coach, it’s no secret that Coach Rippetoe uses the Starting Strength method to make you stronger – it’s all about getting under the bar. We’ve talked about it here, here, and here (and more!)
Recently, one of our international Paralympic swimmers asked about ways to become a stronger swimmer, as getting under the bar isn’t an easy option. We always recommend push-ups and chin-ups. What’s the best guide on training yourself to do chin-ups? Glad you asked. There is a Starting Strength protocol for that, too! Read on for the basic exercises and a link to programs for both beginners and expert chin-up champions.
(For a quick reference on the chin-up versus the pull-up, check out this video from Starting Strength founder Coach Mark Rippetoe.)
Starting Strength Chin Up Training
Before starting your training, there are a few key points to remember.
- First, your progression looks different than it will using a bar. Because you are lifting your body weight against an external immovable object, and your bodyweight fluctuates, you won’t be starting every workout with the same weight.
- And second, the programs linked to below assume that you are regularly lifting weight from the floor – i.e. – deadlifts, power cleans, or the barbell row. The chin-up exercises should come at the end of your regular workout or on a rest day.
- And third, because most dryland exercises for kids are a waste of their time and ours, we recommend doing chin-ups to become stronger when getting under the bar isn’t an option or if your child is too young to lift. Scroll down on this website to find out when they can start lifting. (https://startingstrengthonlinecoaching.com/online-coaching/)
Whether you can do an unassisted body weight chin up or you can barely hang from the bar, there are three primary exercises used in various combinations to develop your strength, and these particular exercises were chosen because they offer a complete, consistent range of motion when done properly.
1. The band assisted chin-up:
“Start by standing on a box or a bench close enough to the chin-up bar that you don’t have to jump to it. Loop the band into itself around the chin-up bar. Place the band under the arch of one of your feet. Grab the chin-up bar with one hand on either side of the band and hang off the bar with straight arms. Straighten both legs and cross your other leg over the banded leg to keep the band in place. Pull yourself up to the bar”
2. Negatives. (Essentially the second half of a chin up.) Stand on a box, holding onto the bar with straight arms, and jump up to get your chin up over the bar. Then slowly lower yourself down to the standing position.
3. Lateral pull downs. These are standard lateral pull downs on a machine, using your chin up grip.
If you are starting at zero, unable to do a single unassisted body weight chin up, then these three exercises will constitute the base of your chin-up training. For more details on the full programs to add into your existing workout, check out the links below!
https://startingstrength.com/training/training-the-chin-up (For the beginner.)
https://startingstrength.com/training/training-the-chin-up-pt-2 (Start here if you can already do an unassisted bodyweight chin up.)
For more questions, nutritional tips, and strength training wisdom, give us a shout and Coach Rippetoe will help you out!
Molly is a member of our creative team, mom of four water-loving babies, and a fierce advocate for CPR training and really early swim instruction.