Years ago when I began weight training my biggest goal was to build a muscular back. I wanted good lat development, and a V-taper like the girls I saw in the fitness magazines. My back was already broad because of my genetics, but I wanted to have a back that screamed, “That girls work out!”
What I learned was a muscular back takes a lot of hard work. It must be earned. You don’t run out and “buy” a back like breast implants or butt implants. Over the years, I have sculpted my back through several back exercises, but when I began the best way to build a V-taper was with chin-ups.
Chin-ups set a solid foundation to build a V-taper and lat development. They are easier than pull-ups, but are still a challenging exercise. When I began working out I could not do a single chin-up although it was only a body weight exercise. I struggled like a fish on a hook, and realized I didn’t have the upper body strength to complete the movement. My training partner told me if I couldn’t do chin-ups on my own then I had no business working out with machines.
He was right. From this moment I set a goal to do one chin-up.
How to do a chin-up
Stand under the chin-up bar with your hands facing you. Jump or lift your body to reach the chin-up bar. I’m a medium height, and must use a bench or a step stool to reach the chin-up bar. While holding on to the bar, brace your abdominal muscles, and cross your legs to stabilize your body. After, pull yourself up until your elbows are pointing directly to the floor. Your chin should be bar level and your body shouldn’t swing in any way. You should be able to feel your lat muscles work. You will also feel it in your arms. Repeat the movement.
Use an assisted chin-up machine if you need help like I did. Since I wasn’t strong enough to do a proper chin-up I found this helpful. The assisted chin-up machine has a padded seat attached to an arm to place your knees on. You adjust the weight by deducting a percentage, or an amount of the weight to help you do the chin-up. Some machines like the Gravitron are more advanced and use a compressor, while others use a weight stack and pin.
If you don’t have either of these items ask your training partner, or someone in the gym, to spot you by holding underneath your crossed legs. The spotter can help when you are struggling to complete a chin-up.