How to Do a Chin up If You Can’t Even Do One (Plus Many More!)

Back in high school our gym teacher made us do tons of chin ups.

If you could do them that is.

I struggled along with many others to do even one.

I can still remember the first time I searched “how to do a chin up” online.

At the time I never knew just how effective they were at transforming your body.

Now they are a staple of my workout program.

So how did I get to where I am today?

Well a few things changed along the way.

First lets talk about the magic of the chin up and the correct technique.

If you still don’t believe me you will now.

The chin up is a fantastic back and biceps builder.

There is a reason you always see jacked guys doing them.

It’s because they work.

Rest assured if you get good at chin ups then your flexing in the mirror will improve as well.

A common question I get asked is the difference between a pull up and a chin up.

The difference in technique between a pull up and chin up is small.

In a chin up your palms are facing towards you and in a pull up your palms are facing away.

The pull up focuses more on the back whereas the chin up incorporates more bicep work.

Pull ups are also done with your arms slightly wider.

OK now that we have that out of the way we can continue.

Chin ups are a must if you want to create your superhero.

Next let us go over what a chin up looks like:

  • Grab the bar with the palms of your hands facing you
  • Start by hanging from the bar with your arms locked straight
  • Pull your self up so that your chin gets over the bar
  • Lower yourself in a controlled manner to the starting position
  • Repeat

Pretty simple I think you will agree.

Here is what it looks like in action:


Still looks simple right?

Yet so many struggle with chin ups like I used to.

So what has changed?

I have gotten stronger and lost body fat.

To get good at chin ups you will need to have a high upper body strength to weight ratio.

Without this chin ups will be very difficult.

Believe me when I say it’s worth it.

When you are doing a chin up you are essentially pulling your whole body weight up to get your head over the bar.

Excess body fat does nothing to help your head get there. 

Imagine it as dead weight pulling you down like an anchor.

Carrying too much fat doesn’t help you do a chin up.

Only muscle helps.

Once you lose body weight in the form of fat you will be feeling much lighter.

Chin ups will automatically become easier.

Find out how I did it here.


How to Do a Chin up

I have told you all the benefits of chin ups and I have covered the technique.

If you can’t even do one that doesn’t help does it?

You can’t even pull yourself up at all never mind to where your chin gets over the bar.

I understand how you must be feeling because I was once that person as well.

Just telling you to “get stronger” doesn’t really help.

You need actionable advice if you want to know how to do a chin up.

Before you do this you will need the right equipment.

Resistance bands will put you on the track to getting your first chin up (and many more).

Here are the ones I recommend if your gym doesn’t have any.


The varying degrees of resistance will allow you to progress every workout without stalling.

Using the band will make you feel lighter and allow you to do assisted chin ups.

Here is a perfect example of how it’s done:

The thicker the band the easier the chin up will be.

So how do we use the bands to get our first chin up?

You move down the band thicknesses until you can do them all by yourself.

Let me show you what this might look like:


Workout 1 

Thickest band assisted chin up x 4


Workout 2

Thickest band assisted chin up x 8


Workout 3 

2nd thickest band assisted chin up x 5


Workout 4

2nd thickest band assisted chin up x 9


Workout 5 

3rd thickest band x 4


Once you  are able to do 8-10 chin ups with a particular band you will move down a thickness.

This is how to do a chin up when you can’t do any.

With this progression you will be doing unassisted chin ups in no time.

Every workout you will be getting stronger.

As the bands get lighter your muscles will begin to take on heavier loads.

Until eventually you can handle your whole body weight.


How to do many more Chin ups

Now you know how to do a chin up I’m sure you don’t just want to stop there.

Of course not.

At Rise and Claim we want to keep pushing ourselves.

Once you can do a few unassisted chin ups things can get more difficult.

The best method I have found to do more chin ups is called “greasing the groove”.


This is where you perform a lot of chin ups but the sets are broken up throughout the day.

Think of chin ups like a skill such as kicking a ball. 

The more you do it the more familiar you will become with it.

Your neuromuscular efficiency will improve and the number of chin ups you can do will also.

For this method you are going to need a home chin up bar.

I recommend the Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar.

This will provide you with somewhere safe and effective to do chin ups in the comfort of your own home.

Whenever you have a chance you should do a few reps.

Each time you pass your chin up bar is another opportunity to get stronger.

Don’t go to failure but stop at a comfortable number.

For example if your max is 4 reps then do 2 reps each time.

Yes even if you can only do 2 reps each time do it.

It may not seem like a lot but they will up.

By the end of the day you will have done 20 or even 30 chin ups easily.

Your total chin up volume will have increased.

Once 2 reps becomes easy you can then move up to 3,4…

There is no limit.

You will get better at chin ups very quickly with the greasing the groove method.

Before you know it 10 chin ups will be like nothing.

How to have a good workout in 12 simple steps.

But don’t forget how far you have come!

Now you know how to do a chin up plus many more.


Thanks for reading,

Stay tuned.

P.S Sign up to The Rise and Claim Newsletter at the top of the sidebar. When you do, you will be the first to get your hands on Rise and Claim exclusives in the coming future.











By | 2017-09-17T02:21:52+00:00 August 7th, 2017|Fitness|8 Comments


  1. Jordan August 8, 2017 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    Pull Ups and Chin Ups are the best. They’re a simple exercise, and you can do it nearly anywhere. I’ve made it a habit to crank out Pull Ups immediately after I finish a hard run outside.

    I also follow the “Recon Ron” Pull Up Program. Here’s a chart where it instructs how you can build up to 15+ pull ups by following this weekly schedule. All you do is complete each set with a minute rest between each set.

    • Peter August 8, 2017 at 6:22 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the comment Jordan. They are a great exercise and I recommend everyone does them. Just had a look at that program and it looks solid. Anyone who can build up to 15 pull ups has a good level of relative upper body strength.

  2. Geoff August 8, 2017 at 9:13 am - Reply

    Hi Peter, So you are in the UK as I am and have the same problem of only being able to use Amazon UK. Interesting site if you want to become muscle bound lol. I did wonder how one would use that piece of apparatus that looks like it was laying on the ground for pull ups but I found the answer when I clicked on the link to Amazon and it told me there. If I hadn’t clicked I wouldn’t have known it needs fixing to a door or some other frame.

    • Peter August 8, 2017 at 6:18 pm - Reply

      Thanks Geoff. Yes I am from the Uk AS well. Check on One link on amazon you can use US, Canada and UK services all in one. It’s very convenient when you want to workout but can’t get to the gym.

  3. Vince August 8, 2017 at 1:19 am - Reply

    Great post Peter. There’s more to the simple chin up that most think but it is a great value exercise and good strength progression to pull ups.

    I’ve been trying to get my max pull up from 10 to 15 but seem to be plateauing at 10-11. What’s your advice to improve this?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Peter August 8, 2017 at 3:49 am - Reply

      Thanks for the comment Vince. Yes the chin up is a great exercise.

      I was the same as you Vince as I was stuck at that number as well. What worked for me was to start adding weight. You can do this with a hiking bag if you don’t have a belt to hang weights from.

      I found that dropping the reps to 3 sets of 5 reps and increasing the weight slowly every workout has increased my strength. When I went back to test my max reps it had went up to 14. Try that out Vince and let me know how you get on.

  4. Alison Lester August 7, 2017 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    Those bands are so cool! I still remember the shame of not being able to do chin ups in gym class!! I’m gonna have to try these out to get my upper body strength up so I can do it!

    • Peter August 7, 2017 at 7:40 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the comment Alison. Yeah they’re cool bands and once you get the hang of chin ups its a great exercise.

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