My favourite training tools: #6 – Chin up bar

This article is part of my blog-series: My Favourite Training Tools (For my American readers, please excuse the ‘u’ in favourite. It’s a Canadian thing). There are probably thousands of tools out there for fitness. Some are fly-by-night items, others have been mainstays for hundreds of years, and now and then there is a new kid on the block that is clearly here to stay. Through this blog-series, I’ll share with you the tools that I think are worth including in your home or commercial gym.

Number six on my list of favourite training tools is the chin up bar. As I write this, I wonder how it only made it to number six. If this was a “top 10 exercises that make me feel awesome” list, pull-ups (palms away) and chin-ups (palms toward you) would probably rank number one. But in reality, most people can’t do them (yet!), so we need other tools to be build up our strength so you can do them. This is where things like free weights and suspension trainers (hints of tools to come?) are effective. I use them for building overall strength and stability first, and then I also use them to help clients progress to pull-ups. Here are a couple of how to exercise videos showing the pull up progressions that I use to get clients to be able to do pull ups:

This first one uses a suspension trainer:

The next one is an option using a squat cage or smith machine. I do prefer the suspension trainer version, but this is still a great option:

Next stop, chin-ups! Here is a video shortly after I finally managed to do more than one chin-up for the first time. I’m trying to think of another time I had such an elated feeling from being able to do 2 reps of something in the gym…Nope.

I almost feel like I don’t need to write any more about the chin up bar. I mean, it’s pretty self-explanatory. The chin up bar makes my list because it lets people do the most awesome exercise in existence. Yes, I realized this is a bold statement, but I stand by it. I doubt anyone will disagree.

I guess I also like it because pull ups are a great upper body pulling exercise that works the back muscles (most people with desk jobs really, really need this), as well as arms, chest and abs. That’s pretty big bang for your buck.

And did I mention the incredible feeling you get immediately after doing a set of pull-ups. Now I say “set of pull-ups”, but that can be a set of 1. It is truly empowering. I still remember my first time…

Elsbeth Vaino is a personal trainer in Ottawa, Canada.

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