In this post, I will not be writing about chin ups vs. pull-ups both are great exercise having their own benefits and they both are similar in essence to one another as they both engage almost same muscle groups but chin-ups is better for biceps brachii and pec major, while pull-ups being better for lower trapezius and lats. Both facilities growth in back and arms but for bigger biceps choose chin-ups, and for bigger lats then slightly bigger upper back I would say go pull-ups. Now let’s dive right into the chin-ups guide.
Chin-ups fall into the category of body-weight exercise, and it’s one of the most challenging & It activates multiple joints in the upper body that why it is loved by many for its advantages in developing biceps muscle while activating back muscles too.
Chin-ups can help you in long run by improving your grip strength, so you can carry your grocery’s in one run… kidding. It helps with grip strength and with getting rid of that sloth posture by improving your posture/appearance and strengthen your back, which in turn reduced the risk of having any back injury and pain.
It strengthens and develops your Back, shoulder, forearms, and Biceps muscles with each repetition. So, if you don’t have chin-ups in your workout routine you should definitely add them. Apart from all the benefits being able to perform even a chin-up will give you a boost of confidence, and happiness that all the struggle paid off.
The best part is that, you don’t need any kind of equipment to perform chin-ups like most of the body-weight exercise, any straight bar would do, and your weight will be acting as the resistance in performing a rep. A straight bar can be found anywhere in a standard playground or you can use a tree branch or even the top of your door but make sure the door can handle your weight.
If you do have gymnastic rings and try to do chin ups on them you have to focus on your grip otherwise rings will turn as they are not fixed, and into the best position suitable for your joints.
How to perform a Chin-up
Firstly, we will have a look at the grip for chin ups you will have your palm facing towards you, this grip is also known as “Underhand grip” and if the palm is facing in the opposite direction of the chin it’s the overhead grip which is used while performing pull-ups. You can simply identify between a chin up and pull up just by looking at the grip.
Now place your hand using underhand grip on a straight bar with a shoulder-width gap.
Start from a dead hang, Use your upper body strength to lift your body straight toward the bar and stop when your chin is above the bar’s straight line. Your elbows will be fully bent squeezing biceps and back muscles, and your body being lowered till the arms are fully straight. As your chin is above the bar you should have a hollowed body position.
This movement will engage elbow flexors (Biceps) and shoulder extension (Lats) .
Chin-ups are considered complete on a variety of factors like hand grip, and is your chin above the bar, upper chest touching the bar. Checking these boxes will help you to perform perfect chin ups
While performing chin-ups muscle engaged are biceps brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis. Biceps and brachialis are the strongest elbow flexors and the brachioradialis is weaker compared to both. One of the strongest muscles for full movement is the latissimus dorsi. Teres major, posterior deltoid, and spinal stabilizers are other few muscles that are also engaged while performing a chin up.
When you do chin-ups with the neutral grip it’s a good mix to engage biceps brachii and brachioradialis all together with brachii being affected the most. When you do chin-ups with an underhand grip brachioradialis is the least affected part.
Biceps due to supinated grip on the bar, it put pressure on elbow flexion, which is a major muscle in biceps.
Latissium Dorsi for short lats it’s a muscle situated on the side of your upper back, while its true major part of work is done by biceps but back muscle provides secondary support in body pulling movement.
Forearms & Grip plays an important role as their work is to provide lifter with a secure and tight grip so a chin-up repetition can take place and doing so develop overall strength in forearms and strengthens your grip.
Benefits of doing a chin ups
There must be some reason why many athletes, sportsmen, and passionately active people do chin-ups because there are many benefits that attract them toward it like…
- Chin ups are a compound movement exercise which in turn means performing a chin up can target a variety of muscles at the same time making it a very effective training method.
- The main muscles targeted are the latissimus dorsi (lats) and rhomboids in your back, posterior deltoids of the shoulders, biceps, and forearms. which in turn can help in developing super upper body strength and definition in arms, who doesn’t want that, and also blessing you with crazy grip strength which comes in handy in a zombie apocalypse or on the serious note while performing heavy dead-lifts, or rack pulls.
- When you’re slouching reading this article and everyone complaining about your posture, chin ups can also help you improve your posture by increasing the strength of external rotators of the shoulder also getting rid of chances of having upper-back soreness.
- Builds up your confidence and gives you a sense of achievement and happiness. Chin ups are not something that everyone can do, and having such mental stamina can help you in daily life.
- develop’s your overall arms and back strength which can be helpful in day-to-day life, and it can be a good start toward a healthy life.
- It’s a compound movement exercise engaging major muscles which in turn causes more calories to burn leading to faster weight loss.
Steps to develop strength to do a chin up
As I said, Chin ups are one of the most challenging, and People usually do this exercise with intention of strengthening the muscle. As a newbie doing such advanced exercise can be hard but don’t worry if you follow these steps you’ll be able to do at least one chin up in no time. Also, remember to eat healthy that’s the key. replace in-between unhealthy snacks with muesli, energy bar, etc.
I have been doing these progression exercises, now I can do weighted chin ups too. So it’s safe to say this method has been tried and tested.
Underhand body-weight rows
Think of this exercise like bench-pressing but instead of bringing a rod close to your chest you will be bringing your chest closer to the rod while the rod stays stationary at a certain height.
Underhand body-weight rows will engage back muscles, biceps, forearms and grip simultaneously
- Set the bar on the squat rack around your waist height.
- laying facing up below the bar, and grab the bar with an underhand grip remember to keep the shoulder-width gap between both hands. (Place bar within the reach of your hand).
- Now tighten your core, fix your elbow in a position just like biceps curl, and pull yourself toward the rod.
- Look up and bring your chest as close to the rod you can.
- Lower yourself with proper form and REPEAT.
If this movement is hard for you place the rod bit high, and when you lean back your body will be at a 30 to 45-degree angle.
if it’s easy for you set the bar lower this, in turn, will increase the pressure it puts on forearms and biceps eventually helping you to build the strength needed. Bend your knees to make it less challenging.
Don’t have access to a gym? don’t worry you can do this exercise with the dining table or any other table. Another way is placing two chairs apart with enough gap for you to perform inverted rows & place a straight bar on a chair.
Negative/Eccentric Chin ups
Any straight bar will do for this method no equipment needed.
- Grab a box and stand on it while having an underhand grip.
- Jump and make sure your chin is above the bar.
- Now here is the main part while descending/lowering try to slow down your descend as much as you can, it can be anywhere between 5 to 10 seconds.
- Once your feet have touched the ground, repeat this process 4 – 8 times.
It simply means to dead hang while tightening your core for as long as you can this, in turn, will increase your grip strength, and having superb grip strength is a must, as your whole body-weight relies upon your grip while doing chin ups.
Pulling exercise should be your priority
Training every part of your body is necessary but if you have to win a marathon you need to train for that same goes for chin ups. Consistently practicing pull exercises will help you develop all the strength you need to do one repetition.
Until you get your first chin up focus on a back-related exercises like a single-arm dumbbell row, lat pull-down, Bent over rows, etc, and keep crushing it.
Avoid these common mistakes
I have seen many times whenever a person is about to do chin ups/pull ups they take a jump while doing their first rep. Don’t be like them one of the factors to keep in mind that you need to start your chin up from dead hang. It’s like checking the first box toward the perfect chin up.
Another mistake is taking momentum by swinging just to make sure that chin goes above the bar. Just keeping chin above the bar does not mean it qualifies as chin up. Again Start from the dead hang no swinging keep your spine stiff and core tight.
Doing this with the help of momentum can lead to injury. For example, if you don’t have enough grip strength you might lose your grip from the momentum causing you to fall on your back.
Don’t do half reps, start from the dead hang > Chin above bar > back to dead hang > Repeat.
Different chin ups variation
These two variations are basic and after doing them you won’t need any other variation to strengthen your arm and back.
Weighted Chin ups
A weighted word simply gives away what it means. It’s doing normal chin ups with added weight, either by having a weighted vest, leg weights, or having leg weights. Imagine having the strength to do weighted chin ups unlimited arm and back growth. Doing these will definitely turn some head it’s not something that everyone can do, so look at them and be proud of yourself.
Towel Chin ups
If you’re able to do it you can finally say goodbye to the poor grip strength. In this simply take a towel (Don’t use jacket like me… learn from my mistake.) place it on the bar and grab it with neutral grip.. doing even one chin up will have your finger crying but it will all be worth it when you have those godly grip strength.
Everyone had a different goal in their mind some want muscle, some want strength, to build muscle, you have to do 5-10 reps, reaching the point of muscular failure at the end of your set. To build strength, you have to do 2-4 reps, and take a good rest for 2-3 minutes between sets. For power, do 4-5 reps explosively and progress.
Alternatives of chin ups
Pull ups are one of the best alternatives of chin ups. In pull ups it engages almost identical muscles, and it’s done by having an arched back. Pull ups have more of the focus on the back just like chin up have more focus on biceps.
In the End
I think chin ups is the overall best exercise for upper body and engaging multiple joints simultaneously there are not many exercises that does that. Many athletes do this exercise on daily basis, and I think an average office going or student should do this to develop overall strength used in day-to-day life.
I hope this chin ups guide helped you in one way or another if it did. leave a comment below that would motivate me a lot to write more such content.
Best of luck to you on your journey to unlocking your first chin ups.