The Chin Up


The chin up is an upper body pulling exercise that is often confused with the pull up the difference being that your hands are supinated (palms facing you) in the chin up and pronated (palms facing forwards) in the pull up however several different grips can be used to change muscle stimulation. 


The chin up is the king of upper body exercises as it will not only develop the strength and muscle tone in your back but also your biceps, forearms and is also an amazing abdominal exercise. The correct technique is hugely important and it you cannot pull your chest all the way up to the bar and control your descent to a straight arm maybe your not quite ready for a full chin up. 


A simple method to increase your back strength to allow the correct form is to only perform the negative (lowering) portion of the exercise.  To do this you need to jump up (using a bench if necessary) so your chin is above the bar and lower yourself down with control.  The goal here is to work towards one 30 second negative movement and perform around 4-5 sets.  Once you get the hand of that begin to add in some pauses in the movement try 3 pauses of 8-10 seconds one third of the way down, around halfway then near the bottom (click here to see Cre8 Fitness video). 


Once you can perform 4-5 sets of this you should be able to perform at least one full range chin up.  Just to warn you when performing slow negatives you know you’re doing it right if you shake like you have just been zapped by a police taser!  Another thing to point out here is don’t be tempted by machines that give you assistance or the lat pull down it will not reflect your efforts in the chin up. Click here to see the Cre8 Fitness video, showing how to perform correctly.


If you are already performing good range chin ups of at least 3 sets of 10-12 reps its time to start mixing things up.  Try these methods to increase the difficulty


1. Perform a 30 second negative at the end of your regular set

2. Add additional weight via a dumbbell or dipping belt (see Cre8 Fitness video, click here)

3. Change your grip to a pronated (palms facing forwards) or neutral grip (palms facing each other).


The chin up should be the core of your upper body exercise routine and if you are not performing them you will be serious lacking progress in upper body development.  Ladies don’t think this exercise is just for the guys, check out Mary-Pier Gaudet a Charles Poliquin trained coach performing the chin up.