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Body Weight Workout Week: Back and Biceps

January 12, 2013

Today I will be focusing on body weight exercises for the back and biceps. Your back muscles are critical for building strong muscular physique. The lats help create the triangular upper body look  for men and a sexy hourglass shape for women which is ideal. Wide lats make the waist look slimmer.

Pull Up and Chin Up

The pull up and chin up are two of the most well know body weight exercises for the back. They are very similar exercises, the only difference being the grip. In the  chin up your palms face you, in the pull up your palms face away from your body. Both exercises do a great job working the back, but the chin up works your biceps more so I tend to prefer chin ups. Because you are able to use your biceps in a chin up, it is slightly easier than a pull up, so I like to use a weight vest to make it harder.

Chin Up Body Weight Exercise

For most people, even doing one pull up is difficult. Don’t worry there are ways to build up to doing pull ups. One of the best ways to build the strength required for a pull up is to do negatives. Jump up to the top position in a pull up and lower your self back down as slowly as possible. Keep doing this exercise until you can do a pull up. It may take a few weeks to build up the strength. Losing weight also helps make pull ups easier.

Inverted Row

The inverted row is another great exercise. I find it is easier than a pull up so working on this exercise will help you build up to doing a pull up. The inverted row is the opposite of a push up. You work your back and biceps during this exercise. The easiest way to do this exercise is to use a squat rack and set the bar around waist level. My doorway pull up bar “The Perfect Pullup” can unhook from the top position and rotate down so you can do inverted rows. I highly recommend “The Perfect Pullup” bar because it is inexpensive, stable and allows you to do inverted rows, unlike the trashy iron gym pull up bar. For those of you who are already in incredible shape, the standard inverted row may not be challenging enough. You can make it harder by adding a weight vest or by elevating your feet with a box or chair.

man inverted row body weight exercise

One Handed Chin Up

One handed pull ups and chin ups are extremely hard, very few people are able to achieve this, probably less than 1% of people. Personally I am not there yet but I am working on it. One exercise that will help you build the strength to do a one handed chin up is the one handed assisted chin up. In this exercise you only use one hand with the palm facing you (I have tried it with palm facing away and it feels very awkward and uncomfortable). Your other hand grasps the wrist of the hand holding the pull up bar. Then Do a chin up as normal. This variation uses mostly the one arm that is grasping the bar but a small amount of strength from the assisting arm. The reason this is much easier is because the second hand stabilizes and positions your body so it is easier to pull you up.

One Handed Assisted Chin Up

Other Challenging Pull Up Exercises

If you are looking for harder pull ups to challenge yourself try some of these. The corn cob pull up starts like a normal pull up with you pulling yourself up. When you get to the top you pull your whole body over to the left, then pull your body over to the right, back to the center then let yourself down. This is way harder than a normal pull up because your body is up for so long.

You can also try chest ups. A chest up is similar to a pull up except instead of pulling yourself up so your chin is just above the bar, you pull yourself up until your nipples are at the bar. You really need to explode up to get this. I do this exercise to help try to train myself to do a muscle up.

If you know any other interesting pull up or chin up variations, share them in the comments.

One Comment
  1. gainbuildmuscle permalink

    Definately three of the most difficult bodyweight exercises EVER!

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