Keep Your Chin-Up | A Day I’ll Never Forget!

by Marianne  - June 7, 2012

The day started like any other; I had finished my breakfast and was getting changed into my black Nike top, black Nike bottoms and my random pink and white Nike trainers  – aka ” my signature gym outfit”!  Feeling good about myself, I got into the car and off I drove to the gym!

Approaching the gym, as I coasted slowly through the car park, there was a certain stillness in the air and I noticed a few other members walking up the long concrete path like little ants on a mission …. a mission to lift some heavy stuff! Then I walked up the path, smelling the freshly brewing coffee from the nearby cafe, and I began feeling butterflies in my stomach.  The red, circular, “target-shaped” symbol on the wall of the gym stood out to me this day,  and at that moment, I knew something great was going to happen – I was on target for something big!

Gazing around the strength room, while standing at my station, I remember seeing a purple-faced meat-head type in the corner giving me the “what’s that girl doing in here” look.  I felt a little self-conscious about what I was going to do, in case I would publicaly fail in the attempt and confirm the weakness Mr Meat-head saw in me. Then, with a nudge of confidence from Andrew (who had been helping me with my strength training), I re-focused my attention to the target …

My sweaty hands grabbed hold of the bar far above my head and, after dangling there helplessly for a split-second, I went for it; squeezing with all my might, knees curling, shoulders shrugging a little as I made it to the bar and achieved my very first Chin-Up!

But I wasn’t finished there …

Adrenaline now pumping through my body, heart in mouth, legs quivering like crazy, I said out loud:


My energy waning; determination soaring, I pulled once more … feeling the fatigue in my grip and my upper back burning, I felt Andrew’s hand at my feet as he took some of my weight and gave me that boost to try a little more.  With every ounce of effort, my chin made it over the bar once again!

Stepping down, shaking and giggling (yes giggling), I smiled from ear to ear with beaming pride and, after a congratulary look from Andrew (this was a huge reaction for him LOL), I glanced over to Mr Meat-head who simply nodded with approval and respect.

I looked back at Andrew and said:


And now, 3 years later I can do this:

From the age of about 13, after seeing Terminator 2, I dreamed of being able to do proper badass Chin-Ups, like Sarah Connor! Never give up on your dreams, because if the mind can think it, it can materialise.

Here is an article I put together a while back (with some additional information now added) to help you achieve YOUR first Chin-up/Pull-Up!


Get the free guide just for you!


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  1. I just achieved my very first chinups —3 in a row!—(is that what the underhand grip is called?) last week and was so dang proud of myself! Next up is an old fashioned pullup. Got a ways to go on those, but I’ve come so far, there’s no stopping me! 🙂

  2. Nice! Funny thing .. I can do chin ups but still working on my pull ups. i kind of started backwards but this really inspired me to push harder !

  3. This is awesome. I started on my pull up journey today and I’m yet to do one. I’ll get there. Your videos are so inspiring, keep them up!

    Have you got any tips on training for them?

  4. Hi Marianne. I’m just about to hit the weights area of the gym for the first time in around 15 years – got my re-introduction session booked for Thursday night – and “1 Sarah Conor pull up” has just become my first long term goal =)

  5. You gave me goosebumps! I have been so afraid of the dang pullup bar it’s not even funny!
    I need to get at it!
    Thanks for the motivation!

  6. At 58 you given me something else to add in the mix of running cycling and the 500 kettle reps. I We have a chin up bar but I avoided it like the plague. I tell my clients we avoided the exercises we need the most but NO I do not follow my own advice!! I should not say NO I did avoid core workouts and now they are a big part of my mix.

  7. That is an impressive display. Tho’,what you call “bobbing” is popularly known as “kipping”. It can be used productively, as you do, to crank out a couple extra reps – at the end of a set. But kipping should never be used from the start – doing so will prevent you from achieving good form. For those looking to work their way up to their first pull-up, check out Paul ‘Coach’ Wade’s “Convict Conditioning”, or Steve Maxwell’s “Your first chin-up”.

  8. Hell yeah it counts! Remember, on the streets, everyday life…climbing over a wall, while being chased by a big mean dog….proper form is for suckers! Good job…

  9. HaHa, wow do I love you:) Now I’m going to have to watch Terminator 2 tonight. Me, I always wanted to be Xena warrior princess and travel the countryside righting wrongs and such. Before that it was Buffy the vampire slayer, thats how I taught myself how to do cartwheels. Sarah connor is pretty badass:) I can’t do chinup or pullups yet but its only a matter of time. Now off to the gym for some deadlifts and squats:)

  10. Hi Marianne, i’m not sure whether i’m doing pull ups or chin ups or neither??!!!! i use the bars which would be vertical to me so my palms would be facing each other?”bobbing” helped me get to 9 for the first time yesterday!


    1. Hey Kelly, these are neutral-grip Pull-Ups or Chin-Ups. Palms facing you is a chin-up and palms away is a pull up. I like the Neutral-Grip ones too, and will vary it with Chin-Ups and now Pull Ups. I don’t think it really matters what grip you choose to start with, but Chins and Neutrals are easier to master because you use more bicep. However, all variations are badass in my book. And if bobbing helps you with that last little bit … go for it! 😀

  11. On June 4th I did my first chinup from a dead hang, after working at it for almost 2 years. I was so happy, because I never did one before, ever. I’ve marked that date in my calendar with a big star!

    When I started, I had to kneel on the floor with a bar positioned just above my head and pull — hoo baby, was that HARD or what!

    Now my goal is to do more chinups in a row. and pullups, too. I want to be a 90-year-old who can do a chinup (I’m 52 now, so I’ve got a couple of decades to work on it, haha!)

    1. That’s great. I am 47. In January I set a goal to complete a true dead hang chin up by my birthday in April. I had been making good progress with it when I injured my shoulder. Now, I recover, and dream of the day! Now my goal has shifted to the end of the year. I can’t wait. You and me Bonnie will be rocking out the chin ups and pull ups in the seniors home.

  12. Well done Marianne, I remember my first chin ups – a trainer came over and congratulated me and told me most women can’t do chin ups and that he was very impressed. I’ve never forgotten how good that made me feel so now when I see a woman doing a chin up or attempting I always go and say what he said to me and the funny thing is that they all come back and report their progress it’s like a little chin up club and any women who can do one should be so proud because they are definitely not the easiest thing in the gym to do.

  13. Awesome work and post! I’m working on getting to 5 chin ups-some days it seems so far away. BUt on the other hand 9 months ago was wasn’t able to do any, now I’m on 3.Sarah Connor is bad ass, so are you!

  14. I did my first real push up today! I did maybe 7 before I backed down and went back to my knees. Gotta start somewhere.
    Marianne, it is great to see your arms and body and to know that down the road, I will be able to do these things too. I have been shopping for my first kettle bell or sandbag, reading your articles on the topic and trying to make a good decision for myself. Thanks for all you do.

  15. OMG, you make me want to lick your sweaty back :-D. You´re awesome! I have to work HARD in order to do this but I will. Just need to learn proper push ups first, THEN pull ups… Maybe…2018?! At least before my 40th birthday 🙂

    1. Hahaha! That’s funny! But it won’t take you til then! You could do it in a few months if you train well for it. Then you can try and lick.your.own.sweaty.back?? Figue that one out 😉

  16. Great post, Marianne! Brought back memories of my first one–not so long ago. Nowadays, sometimes in the evening, my husband, son and I will break out the pull up bar and have a little competition. It’ll all just for fun, and of course I’m still waaaay behind them on the reps, but they think I am awesome!

  17. you’re a badass….I love it.

    I look at women who do the kind of workouts you girls are doing and say “it’s about time!”. So many seem afraid of weight training, little do they know the amazing benefits it will bring to their life.

    thanks for sharing.

  18. That gave me goosebumps! 10 is my goal. I can do 5 currently, but when I get fatigued my legs come up in front of me at a right angle… does that still count? Or do they have to be crossed and behind you? Nice work Marianne, as always x

    1. The legs curling up is natural, and it still counts to me. Many fitness folk do that on their final reps, so don’t worry, as long as the reps are from a dead hang and there not too much “bobbing” lol, then it counts 😉 Good luck with your next 5!

  19. Love it! I just recently tried to do chin ups at crossfit, and realized how poor my upper body strength is…
    That’s a great reason to start working on it! I’m starting with mastering proper push-up and press-up form. I need to find a way to practice pull ups at home too…

  20. I have to get something off my chest….you just gained +10 hot points for this video. that brings you to a total of 999,999,990 hot points. you’ll have to hit 12 reps for the next +10.

  21. I can only do one 🙁 I really want to 2 3 full ones I know it is in my head. So hard to break programming.

    1. Don’t fret my friend, there is always a way 🙂 Do you do much vertical pressing? Military press is a great way to help your pull ups believe it or not! I also find, getting angry at the bar helps 😉 Always remember to pull with your upper back more than your arms. With all your sailing, you should have great upper back strength. I bet in a few weeks, you could have your second rep!

      1. I know I do a lot of pressing and rope pulling on the boat. and yes I have a strong upper back, so I think it is all in my head. I have done 2 in a row before, but it is random. I love watching you do pull ups chin ups. it is seriously encouraging.

        1. I think there is definitely an “in your head” element … mostly because we put a lot of pressure on ourselves at that moment we try. I have a client at the min who is in his late 50s, and he did his first ever pull-up the very first day he trained with me. Now he can do 3 sets of 2 – but he puts a huge pressure on himself to beat his score EVERY time. I try to explain that this does not always happen, but we must maintain the training and then, when the energy is right, try for a 3rd. Even if you get 2 sets of 2, that is an awesome start back to your pull ups 🙂

  22. Oh honey, I remember my first one as well! I think it’s a moment you will never forget; one of extreme empowerment. There is something special about getting over that bar, isn’t there?

    1. Absolutely! When I was recounting the experience in my head, I got all the same feelings back – it was amazing to relive it, but also to look back and see how far I have come. But there’s nothing like one’s first Chin/Pull Up 🙂

      Thank you for commenting Neghar! x

    2. I remember mine, too. I was training at a Crossfit Gym and I know some people like to mock Crossfit, but this one was good. And the trainer said “Was that your first one?” and I said, “Yes!” and he started applauding and yelled out “FIRST PULL UP FOR T….” I thought balloons were going to fall out of the ceiling. It was pretty great. And actually, every time I go up one it still feels like a miracle.

  23. omg! yes! Sarah Connor is my inspiration too! I’m still working on my first one…but I know I’ll get there. Thanks for being a real life Sarah Connor, you badass!

  24. Love the bobbing!!

    I am training at the moment for that elusive first chin-up. I will get there. I will conquer it and not it conquer me. And on that day I will be buying a girls gone strong top.
    Your links are great thanks.

  25. Marianne, that is awesome and so inspiring. I mailed you when you did that original post about pull ups/chin ups. I told you I was working on doing my first chin up….well it has happened 🙂 I can do 2 (though the second one is done with great difficulty and some cursing)!!
    So delighted, it is great to have your website as a source of inspiration…knowing what can be done!

    Thank you!!

    Ps.i also just purchased my first kettlebell and had the pleasure of meeting Steve Cotter last weekend!

  26. Your first chin-up is a hard accomplishment to top, isn’t it!? There’s just something about it. I was lucky enough to be working on a story about my gym at the time I was working on getting my first one. The photographer for the story was snapping shots, and wanted me to just hang from the bar, but my coach said to go ahead and pull up as far as I could. And what do you know!? I got my very first chin-up as she was snapping away, so I got to have a photo of the momentous event. Not that I would ever forget it! 🙂

  27. Omg way to go girl 🙂 its one of my new years goals to do 3
    I am getting close to doing 1 without jumping! You rock keep it up!

  28. This is a topic close to my own heart at the moment – I’m working really, really hard on pull-ups. When I started, I couldn’t budge from the bottom, nor could I stay in a hold at the top. I’m not nearly where you are, but I’m getting there: doing assisted pull-ups with a rubber band or two and gradually decreasing resistance and increasing reps. Plus holds and negatives are also improving. It’s the most amazing feeling ever! Most guys seem to think that all women are simply incapable of upper body strength, like somebody who once commented to me that “women just can’t do push ups”. Needless to say, I dropped then and there and gave him ten. 🙂 Same guy is totally horrified that I’m doing pull-ups now, and apparently thinks I’m going to turn into a female version of the Incredible Hulk. But dang it, I just love being strong! 🙂

  29. Great! That’s what I am talking about! I’ve dislocated my shoulders 6 times and back in the days I thought I would never be able to do pull ups or chin ups. I remember dreaming at night how I did pull ups, then I woke up feeling disappointed that I would never be able to do them in reality. And here I am, after a lot of hard work and recovery I am doing chin ups, and getting closer to doing pull ups with an overhand grip! 🙂

    Great post! You made me think how far we can go, when we dedicate ourselves to a goal! 🙂

    1. Hi there,

      This motivated and encouraged me. I’ve got a shoulder injury and haven’t been able to do chin ups or pullups which is really disappointed since I’ve finally mananged to do 2 pullups (max 10 chinups as well).

      This has inspired me to keep up with rehab and hopefully I’ll be back doing chin ups and pull ups soon.

      Thank you,


      1. I had to chuckle at this, Ines, because I also dream from time to time how easily I’m doing pull-ups, only to wake up and realise that I’m not quite there yet. But I’ll get there. 🙂

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