Resource: Compilation of Chin-Up Tips

It is often said that the squat is the king of exercises. True. As far as the upper body is concerned, chin-ups are head and shoulders above the rest.

Being able to do 20 strict bodyweight chin-ups used to be a cornerstone of strength trainees in the Golden Era of bodybuilding. Nowadays, a lot of guys with 18 inch arms can barely do 8 proper reps, and the kipping pull-ups popularized by the CrossFit community is an orthopedic surgeon’s dream.

Everyone thinks that the chin-up and the pull-up are great to work the latissimus dorsi muscles and biceps, but the truth is, chins and pull-ups are real functional, whole-body exercises that work the abs, long head of the triceps, and even the pectorals. Here is an anatomical display of the most important muscles worked by the chin-ups, taken from Frederic Delavier’s Strength Training Anatomy.

chin up



These images are used with permission from the author.  To buy the book, click here

The chin-up is a great exercise and, for most, quite challenging to master. So I decided to put together a resource section for you to use with videos so you can all reach your physique and performance goals using the King of upper body exercises.

Here is how I recommend you train to master the basics:

From easiest to hardest progression.

A common error is to not recruit the muscles properly, so I always make sure to teach my students this simple trick to boost chin-up performance. Once they start using it, it instantly helps with their numbers, and they can impress their clients by having them do the same.

Boosting Performance

In my seminars, I always quite a few great methods to improving chin-up performance rapidly. Of course you’ll feel like your spleen is coming out of your left eye if you do them properly, but your chin-up count will go up very rapidly.

Here is the eccentric method

The pause method used for chin-ups in this video will have you shaking like a penguin having an epileptic fit, but it is a staple in my programs.

The Pause Method

Once you’ve reached a good performance in the chin-ups, you are ready to try a new challenge. Using the rings is a sure way to recruit new muscle fibers and keep the gains coming, on top of being safer and putting less strain on the wrists and elbows. Of course, your chin-up numbers will drop in the beginning, but after a few weeks of training you’ll get back to where you were, and you’ll be surprised at your performance on a bar.

Chin-Ups on Rings

Another variant I like to use is the lean away pull-up. This pull-up variation is a great rotator cuff strengthener and provides great transfer to sports performance, particularly throws.

Lean away Pull-ups

In case you haven’t noticed yet, the chin-ups and pull-ups are a great exercise for the grip and forearm. I always include some specific variants of chin-ups for athletes who put great demands on their grip, like mix martial artists and law enforcement officers.

The dog bone is a deceptively simple piece of equipment. It allows for excellent chin-up variations. It will take your grip training and strength to whole new levels.
Indeed, it is a great tool with which to exercise in order to develop a strong grip. And this is obviously a requirement in MMA (mixed martial arts) and every sport with a grappling component (Wrestling, Judo, Ju-JItsu…).
This implement is specifically designed for grip training and carries quite a few advantages that will translate into dominance on the mat.

Dog Bone Chin-ups

A strong grip, which is a requirement in MMA (mixed martial arts) and every sports with a grappling component. Medicine ball chin-ups tick all the cases when it comes to develop a vise like grip.

Med Ball Chin-Ups

As you apply this methodology, don’t be surprised if other lifts improve. Usually deadlifts, and bench press get an indirect but significant boost.

Learn and grow,

Coach Charles R. Poliquin