Tip #1 – Don’t Lock Out
Always keep your elbows bent a bit while doing this exercise. Never lockout and hang on the bottom position of the reps. Don’t worry, this won’t hurt your gains and it will keep constant tension on your biceps, giving you a cool post-workout pump.
Tip #2 – Frequency
Don’t overdo it. Six sets per week is an ideal frequency. The rest of the week use different grip varieties as mentioned below, which will also support you in doing more chin-ups and improving pulling strength in general.
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Tip #3 – Grip Variety
If possible, also try to use a variety of grips. Most pull-up bars today have a neutral grip (palms facing each other) or a zig-zag grip which are friendlier for your joints. If your pull-up bar has one of these grips I would definitely prefer them over straight bar chin-ups.
Tip #4 – Don’t Squeeze Too Hard!
When you squeeze your grip too hard it radiates tension up to the arm and can affect the elbow. I recommend this tip especially for people who have sensitive elbows and experience elbow pain frequently. Hold the bar more loosely and this will alleviate or prevent your elbow pain from flaring up.
Also consider some shoulder mobility exercises. These two exercises have helped me : a) subscapularis stretch; and b) shoulder dislocations (Check out video links).
Ending Notes. It should go without saying, that when you are experiencing persisting pain due to chin-ups, you should first let your body heal before applying the tips above. Once you get back to your bodyweight routine, get started with a different and easier pulling exercise instead of chin-ups. Inverted rows are a good alternative. When the time is right, start gradually including chin ups back in your weekly schedule again.
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