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.
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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