The chin up is widely known by many strength coaches as one of the best if not the best upper body exercise.
However it is also one of the most poorly executed exercises I see in the gym.
Whilst the technique of a chin up is not overly difficult due to the fact the lifter must perform the exercise with their own bodyweight as the resistance there are many common technical deficiencies, these include
• Poor range of motion (not going all the way down or coming all the way up).
• Ineffective amounts of reps.
• Too much load (weight).
• Shoulder blades rolling forward or not retracting properly
• Shrugging shoulders up
This post will cover the technique of how to overcome these technique issues as well as my ideal set up position and pull technique for power and strength development and a simple regression to start with.
Ideal set up for supinated grip chin ups are complete straight arms with palms turned in and hand placement being shoulder width or slightly more narrow. Head and upper body should be forward and directly underneath the bar this can be done by lining up ears with biceps at the base of your chin up.
The first pull can be executed by depressing the shoulders (pulling them down) and by rotating your shoulder blades together as you also try to depress them, this can be achieved by trying to “put your shoulder blades in your back pocket”. This is also where you pull your head and torso back and behind the bar so that your head can clear the bar.
Finish the Rep
The chin up is completed by powerfully driving your elbows down and back behind you and pulling your chest to the bar so your chin finishes above the bar. Throughout this phase of the rep the focus should be on tightly squeezing your shoulder blades together whilst maintaining depressed shoulders.
Simple regression – Thera-band chin ups
A thera-band tied to the bar and placed under the feet of the lifter can be used to help decrease the total load therefor allowing the lifter to focus on form and complete more reps. Experienced lifter can use these to revisit any areas of their chin up they are weak in.
Happy chin ups!
Frank ‘Sweet Chin Music’ Bartone
Can you do a chin up? Would you like to know how to develop the strength to achieve the empowering action of lifting your own body weight off the ground? Then why not register for a free two week trial at your closest RBT.