CHIN-UPS…YOU VS GRAVITY
One of the most beneficial upper body exercises you can do is a chin-up. With different variations of tempos you can trigger different adaptations. Temp is the speed of execution during a weight training exercise, which determines the desired training response.
The reason this is one of the most beneficial upper body exercises is because it involves nine different muscles. Included are the bicep, bicep brachii, latissimus dorsi, teres major, posterior deltoid, rhomboids, the sternal portion of pectoralis major, lower portion of the trapezius, and the elbow flexors. Involving all of these muscles in an exercise will force your body to exert more energy, making it a more difficult exercise. You need to make sure that you are working through the full range of motion. For a chin-up you want to be fully hanging and extended unless you are doing eccentric only training. Your arms, legs and torso should all be in line with each other throughout the entire exercise with an attempt at keeping your legs tucked back and not traveling forward. You also want to avoid “kipping” (using your knees a momentum) because when you kipp you are putting extreme stress on the joints.
What will aid your success?
Breathing – with any exercise, breathing is crucial. When performing a chin-up, the most beneficial time to inhale is on the way up and the most beneficial time to exhale is on the way down.
Mental focus – the movement of a chin-up isn’t to bring your shoulder to the bar. It’s actually to bring your elbow back. If you can remember that you will be more explosive.
Strength – getting your trap 3 and scapulae strong will assist you tremendously in being successful at achieving a chin-up as well as improving your grip strength.
- Assisted machine – this aids you in the concentric portion of a chin-up
- Partner Chin-up 1 – your partner will hold both feet and if you need help, you will press your feet against your partner’s hands
- Partner Chin-up 2 – same thing except this time your partner will only hold one foot with the other foot increasing the load
- Partner Chin-up 3 – same as 1 and 2 but this time your partner will hold your waist.
- If you don’t have a partner – wrap a large band around your chin-up bar, then use the progression as if you did have a partner (2 legs in or 1 leg in)
- Grip Progression
- Close grip
- Medium grip
- Supinated grip – palms facing your face
- Neutral grip – palms facing each other
- Sternum Chin-up – palms facing your face when you raise your body up instead of just your chin clearing the bar – your sternum becomes equal with the bar
As a rule of thumb with chin-ups, the wider your grip positioning gets, the harder the exercise becomes. Typically, the supinated grip position will be your strongest grip position for it uses our strong back muscles as well as assistance from the biceps brachii. This is not always the case as some people have a stronger brachialis and brachioradialis than their biceps brachii, in which case the neutral grip will be a better grip position. Sternum chin ups are the hardest as the range of motion is greater.