How to Do a Chin Up, and Get More Reps

Today’s “Ask Lee”, comes from Steven W. Scotland UK. Hi, I’m really struggling with wide grip chin ups. Any tips or advice on how I can strengthen my lats and improve on this exercise. Thanks, and I look forward to your reply.

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Steven, you’re certainly not alone! Unassisted, wide grip pull-ups are difficult to master, in fact, few gym goers can perform even 10 reps in good form.

The good news is, there are two techniques you can utilize to transform you into a pull-up aficionado in no time.

So let’s get down to it. For the first technique, you’re going to focus your efforts on the lat pull-down machine. Using the lat pulldown machine, you can apply less resistance to your lats then you would ordinarily if you were performing chin-ups.

When performing the lat pull downs, be sure to keep your chest high, and really pull with your back. Pull your elbows down and back and think about elbowing an imaginary guy behind you. Use a weight you can perform for 10-12 repetitions, and shoot to fail on the last couple of reps.

The second technique is performing sets of negative reps on your chin-ups. As the name implies you are going to be accentuating the part of the exercise in which you lower yourself to the starting position. You’ll need a training partner to assist you in getting into the fully contracted position at the top of the bar. Once you have yourself into the top position of the pull up, lower yourself very slowly. Have your partner immediately help you get back into the contracted position at the top, and then repeat.

Once you become adept at the negative only reps, try performing the same exercise with additional resistance. For example, hold a dumbbell either around your waist or between your feet, and again simply concentrate on slow lowering reps.

Practice these for a few weeks, and you’ll suddenly find getting up into the full pull-up position gets easier and easier and your full range reps increase week on week.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Until next time, I am

Your Lean Body Coach™
Houston, Texas

About the Author
One of the world’s most well-known and celebrated bodybuilding legends, Lee Labrada holds 22 professional bodybuilding titles, including the IFBB Mr. Universe. He is one of few pro bodybuilders in history to consistently place in the top four at the Mr. Olympia competition (the “Super Bowl” of bodybuilding) for seven consecutive years—a feat he shares with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

He has appeared on the covers of more than 100 bodybuilding and fitness magazines and has been featured on CNBC, FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and ESPN as a fitness and nutrition expert.

Lee was also inducted into the Bodybuilding Hall of Fame, is an Internationally known best selling fitness authos and holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Civil Engineering. For more about Lee please visit his page here: Lee Labrada’s page.