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Home » Exercises

How to Perform the Chin Up With Proper Technique

Submitted by on October 22, 2008 – 1:35 amNo Comment

The chin up is one of the best ways to measure overall upper body strength.  The chin up works bicepts, lats, traps, and your core muscles. The chin up can be done either palms in, palms out, wide grip or narrow. With palms out the strain of the work out is more on your lats and with the palms in the biceps get a better workout. A rule of thumb for the chin up is the wider you go, the wider you grow. This is in referance to your grip spacing.

The Chin Ups

Palms out

There are many ways to do the chin up I will first talk about the wide grip with your hands facing away from your body. This particular chin up builds big lats while still building bicep and core strength. With your feet of the ground you can either cross them or keep them uncrossed. When crossing them I find I can generate more power by flexing my gluts from that position. Now pull yourself until your chin is above the bar. You do this by flexing your biceps and gluts and bringing your shoulders together. Try to keep the swinging to a minimum and use your own force rather than your body’s momentum. Lower yourself down slowly just before your arms lock out  then start your next rep.

Here is the positioning you should have for the reps.

  • Hands- Facing away from your body your arms should both be at a 45 degree angle from the centre of your body when you are at the bottom of the rep.
  • Arms– Start with your arms fully extended flexing your biceps and pushing your chest out by bringing your shoulder blades together will help you to build the most power for the reps.
  • Back- Straight and try not to bend to help lift yourself up.
  • Legs- Keep off the ground thought the whole rep and don’t swing to get momentum to the top of the rep.

* If you cannot do one chin up start by jumping and using that force to generate enought power to complete the rep but be sure to let yourself down slowly to build your strength with the negative portion of the rep. Do not use a chin up aided machine, keep it to your own power or get a spotter to give you a little lift but the negative portion needs to be all you. If you can do more than 10 chin ups start adding weight to a weight belt to make the repetition more difficult.

Palms In

This chin up build bigger biceps while limited the lat growth, i personally find this chin up easier to perform with the same motion as the palms out chin up the rep starts with your arms fully extended and pulling yourself until your chin clears the bar. Much like a curl you have to flex your biceps to begin the movement, pinching your shoulders together and flexing your gluts and hamstrings will help to complete the rep. Here is the positioning you should have for the reps.

  • Hands- Facing yourself around 18 inches apart and wrap your thumbs around the bar to avoid slipping which can cause some nasty calluses.
  • Arms- Should be shoulder width apart for the whole rep starting fully extended and finishing the rep with your biceps flexed completely.
  • Back- Keep your back tight and bring your shoulders together to pull yourself up and over the bar.
  • Legs- Should stay regular still and avoid swinging, flexing you gluts and hamstrings will help to pull yourself up.

Ways to Improve Your Chin Ups

You have to actually do chin-ups to get better at them. Many people at the gym who can’t do a chin up wont even bother in trying to get better at them.  You’d be foolish not to include them in your workouts.

  • Pull Down Machine– This machine has a very similar motion to the chin up but you will not get the same results as a chin up, by using this machine you will begin to build the muscle for which you need to do a chin up with proper form. Include this workout into your schedule and you will see improvement in your chin ups.
  • Aided Chin Ups– Get a friend to give you a little boost with your chin up by giving you a supporting hand for your feet. This will allow you to get a little extra push with your legs and gluts to get to the top of the rep. Make sure you do the negative of the rep! Lower yourself down as slowly as you can with out your spotter helping you and repeat the rep. If you can’t get a spotter you can also use a exercise band, loop it over the bar so the tension is bringing your weight up allowing you to complete the rep, this is not as efferent as a spotter as you are aided for the negative portion of the rep as well which is a very important part in gaining strength.
  • Negatives–  Get a bench to bring yourself high enough so your chin in above the bar, bring your feet up so that when you do let yourself down you can get the full range of the rep. Lower yourself down slowly as the negative portion of the rep is where the most muscle fibers are recruited so by doing these the up portion of the rep will begin to get easier.

With these exercises and some hard work you’ll find yourself finding a regular chin up just isn’t doing it anymore and will have to move on to weighted chin up. From here the sky’s the limit and you’ll finally have conquered that chin up bar and be looking for new challenges

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