What to do if you can't do chin ups | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

What to do if you can't do chin ups

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Chin ups are an essential part of any cricketer's training programme and have the advantage of being able to be done almost anywhere, but many players avoid them.

It's easy to understand why. They are hard to do.

Why bother looking foolish on the chin up bar when you can do a few more sets of bicep curls to make the guns look great?

You know better though. You want to do chins because you know the difference between strength you can use on the field and swelled up biceps with no function.

The trouble is, if you can’t do a chin up how do you do chin ups?

There are 3 methods. All of which require some hard work and perseverance on your part. It can take a long time before you are able to do a full chin up and even when you can it can take even longer to get from one to two and so on.

With all these methods the technique remains the same. Keep trying to increase the number you can do at every session. This is a long proven principle of fitness called progressive overload. The more you do the more you are able to do.

1. Cheat

If you can almost do a chin up but not quite, there is no harm in giving yourself a helping hand to start with. The most common cheat is called kipping: This is where you kick your legs up a little and use momentum to drive your body upwards.

An even more extreme form of this is starting with your feet on the ground and pushing yourself off to give yourself a start.

Whatever method you use, you must move to a stricter chin up as soon as you can do one. With strict technique you cannot use your legs to build momentum and you must look straight ahead, not up at the bar.

2. Do negatives

Negative chin ups are when you lower yourself down from the top of the bar rather than pulling yourself up. This is much easier and needs to be done as slowly as possible.

The aim here is to do enough negatives to build your strength to be able to do one normal chin up. As a rule of thumb, if you can do 8 negatives under control you should be able to do a chin up.

3. Get assistance

The idea of assisted chin ups is to reduce the amount of bodyweight you are lifting up making the chin up easier. There are two common ways.

If you have a training partner or someone who can help you, they can take some of your weight by holding your hips or feet. They should take enough weight for you to be able to get some repetitions out.

If you have no one to help you can use a resistance band as assistance like here:

If you want you can use different strength bands, gradually adding more weight as you get stronger. If you only have one band, you can still progress by doing more repetitions until you have the strength to do one unassisted.

Bonus cricket chin up tip

Most people think of strength training in terms of sets and reps. Like 3 sets of 5 reps with 1 minute rest between sets. When it comes to tough bodyweight exercises like the chin up there is a better way to keep track of progress.

Keep count of total reps for the session instead. If you can do 3 sets of 5 negatives that’s 15 total reps. The next time you hit the gym aim for 20 total reps no matter how many sets it takes. The next session increase this number again so you are always progressing.

This also has the advantage of feeling like you are making progress much more than if you just stop when you have done your 3x5 but can’t do 3x6 yet.

How often should you do chin ups?

Chin ups and their variations should be a part of every players plan. However some times of the year are better than others. If you struggle to do chin ups you can be sore if you do too much. This is not good if you are in season.

1-2 training sessions a week can include chin up work in season, while 3 (or more) is better during the off season when you can really focus on building up strength. The more you do the faster you will get good at chin ups (although always beware overtraining).

When it comes to strength, there are not many better demonstrations than being able to perform multiple chin ups. As we know, strength is a crucial factor in cricket success, so build in more chin up work as part of your training plan, not being able to do them is no excuse!

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Ahh!! YES! I have been waiting all my life for something on this. Ive NEVER been able to do chin ups properly: always felt a numpty trying. I'll try the techniques and let you know how I get on!

I have to say that the kipping method looks silly...

Why do you say that unccricket?

Good luck "phil"

I don't know, it just looks funny...like if I saw it in the gym, I would laugh. I'm sure it works and after listening to the commentary on the video, seems like it could have other benefits too. On another note, I was finally able to do my first legitimate pull up yesterday. I ended up doing 2 total!

Good work, next stop weighted chin ups!

Nice post!! You need to feel shame if you can't do. There are many can't that. Try n try n you will get there. One of the best body weight exercise

Opps correction: You need not to feel shame

Hey David I was banned from the simplycricket forum for recommending crossfit. I see that you are now using their videos. I guess you have seen the value of what I suggested. Simplycricket is very poor in terms of quality information and interaction moderated by 14 year olds. Good to see you are open minded.

DTBSAI, I don't reccomend any system, but try and adapt from them all to ge the best results. Have you used crossfit yourself?

David, Crossfit is really a set of principles not a cookie cutter system that anyone can sell. You can try it, since they do have some facilities in England. Recommend, suggest, adapt etc are all just semantics. You are acknowledging crossfit by using their videos, which is a good thing unlike the kids are sillycricket...oops simplycricket.net

Sounds interesting I'll see if I can find a practioner or facility. What are the principles?

Use the internet David, and you can find out for yourself.

"As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble"
Ralph Waldo Emerson

haha thanks's 'guest', that's great advice. But what is this "INTERNET" of which you speak?

DTBSAI, I love that quote.

It is important a cricketer can lift there own body weight. The current game is slowly weeding out the fat slugs. Soon the modren game will only attract athletes

Bit confused - videos and pictures here are of hands facing away and hands facing towards you - which one should I be doing?

Either (or both).

Does the distance between hands matter? I see people doing them with hands only shoulder width apart and then others doing them with hands spread quite far apart, not sure what difference that makes either for chin ups or pull ups...

The closer your hands are together, the easier it gets because the biceps assist the back muscles more.

So a cricketer should aim for pretty wide ones (without getting too crazy) then?

Great article, but you might want to recommend something like the Work Horse Fitness Trainer for those who train at home and don't have access to a gym or other exercise equipment. www.WorkHorseFitness.com
The Work Horse is versatile, and is a dream come true for women who are looking to work those pulling muscles.

Palms facing away is harder and works your back muscles more, while facing inwards is a little easier and does your biceps more. Which would be better - does it matter for bowlers or batsmen at all?


Doesn't matter - just do them.

Well, I am also unable to do a single chin-up... I don't have assisted chin-up machine in my gym.. Will lat pull down help me ?

Your reply would be appreciated Smiling