Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Fitness Tip: My #1 Upper Body Strength Move

Between training for two bikini competitions (which you can read about here and here) and all my prior years of working out, I've tried many different upper body exercises.... What's my all-time favorite (and proven) upper-body strength exercise??


Yep, chinups.  It used to be pushups but ever since I started doing chinups, I give them a teeny-tiny slight edge.  I still love all my pushup variations (although I'm sure my clients would have a different opinion...) but chinups require you to pull your ENTIRE bodyweight.

Chinups are key to sculpting muscular arms but also give you pretty nice-looking back muscles unlike, say, bicep curls (although the way some people do bicep curls, you'd think they were trying to to work their back) AND chinups work your abs because they are working to stabilize you during the exercise... oh heyy, it's a 3-in-1 exercise!

One of my 20(in)12 goals was to be able to do a set of 10 chinups (palms in) and 10 pullups (palms out)... which I finally achieved after lots of work!   Not gonna lie, the day I managed to bust out a set of 10 chinups was a pretty proud moment for me! As far as pullups, I can do a set of 10 close-grip but stuck at 6 wide-grip...  striving for 10 wide-grip by the end of 2012!

A great advantage of doing chinups (besides the lovely muscles you'll have) is that I don't even need to leave my house, thanks to one of my favorite pieces of fitness equipment...

My chinup bar!

I got my chinup bar for ~$30 at Target. When I started using it, I would do 1-2 reps every time I went in my bedroom (it's hooked onto the doorway). The more I practiced, the more I could do.  I was stuck at a plateau of about 7 for a while... now I aim for 3 sets of 10-12.

If you're interested in building your upper body strength with chinups, either at home or the gym, start practicing off the bat with GOOD TECHNIQUE.  One of my favorite blogs, Mark's Daily Apple, offers some great tips on progressions and maintaining proper form (he focuses on pullups but the same technique can be used for chinups, just position your hands slightly closer together on the bar).  At around 2:25, he talks about "reverse pullups" which is a technique I used as well, except I called it "negative chinups".

Another great blog, Stumptuous, also has some good advice geared towards females who want to "mistress the pullup".  That's right, you tell that pullup who's boss.

Basically, if you aren't currently doing chinups, challenge yourself to start! Seriously, it will be one of the best things you can do for your upper body strength.  Pair them with pushups and you have yourself a great upper body/ abs combo circuit... and a much better method of achieving nice, muscular arms than bicep curls and tricep kickbacks, trust me!

Now, on the days when I do get my workout in at the gym, there are certain things I need with me to make it a successful one...  I'll fill you in with tomorrow's blog post...

How about filling ME in on your favorite upper body strength exercise??

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