in my early teens, it seemed as if my ability to do chinups
increased exponentially overnight. The victory was dampened by
a cracking voice and acne.
man, I take the ability to lift my entire body weight so my
chin is above a bar for granted. At my most out of shape, when
I was sedentary and tipping the scales toward obesity, I could
still do three chinups.
a woman to do even a single chinup, she needs to work for it,
said Boston strength and conditioning coach Tony Gentilcore.
And the work, Gentilcore added, is worth it.
consider it an important fitness goal for women," said
Gentilcore, who trains Major League Baseball players as well
as many female clients. The latter often have an aesthetic
goal in mind, and the chinup helps them achieve that too. The
training helps sculpt muscles in a way many find appealing,
and "weight loss can be part of the discussion because it’s
less weight to pull up over the bar."
clients have mastered a chinup, it’s a skill they don’t
want to lose. Instead, they want to go for two chinups. Then
Andrews, 48, just achieved her first full chinup, and it was
six months in the making.
never had the upper body strength to do anything; I couldn’t
even climb a tree," said the interior designer from
Calgary, Canada, who hired a trainer in January to help her do
it women need to work so hard to achieve even a single chinup?
not the quality of the muscle, it’s the total amount,"
said Cassandra Forsythe, an assistant professor of exercise
science at Central Connecticut State University and co-author
of "The New Rules of Lifting for Women." "With
men," she explained, "puberty provides an
enhancement in testosterone, which creates greater muscle
mass. There is a large difference in the amount of upper body
muscle between men and women."
a cultural difference too.
seems men are always doing upper body work in a effort to
build muscle and be stronger," Forsythe said,
"whereas women are often more interested in fat loss and
kind of training does it take?
need to train four to five times a week," Gentilcore
said. "Planks, pushups, core strength. Building total
body stability starting on the floor is important, so when
they’re hanging from the bar they can hold a good
has his clients practice hanging from the bar, adding in
flexed arm hangs and hanging leg raises. When they’re ready,
he has them "build the pattern" by mimicking the
chinup while having clients stand on elastic bands attached to
the bar to take away some of their weight and help lift them
up. Over time, those elastic bands get thinner and the clients
do more of the work, until they can do the entire exercise on
trainer gave her a well-rounded lifting program with
additional chinup-specific exercises to train the back, core
muscles, shoulders and biceps. Biceps help make the chinup
easier than the pullup — two exercises that are often
confused. With a pullup, the palms face away from the body and
hands usually are positioned slightly wider than the
shoulders. Chinups have the palms facing inward, hands about
shoulder-width apart. The body’s configuration with the
chinup allows for more recruitment of the biceps, making it
somewhat easier than the traditional pullup.
chinup had long managed to escape Michelle Kania, a
37-year-old athletic trainer in Oswego, Ill., but she made it
her mission to learn. She followed Gentilcore’s program via
got so I could do almost 10," Kania said. Once she could
do it, she was determined not to lose it. She’s currently
able to do five chinups and plans to increase her training to
get back up in the double digits.
said she once impressed a group of Marines with her ability to
like doing it in public, so people look at me," she said.
"I get a kick out of that."