The Chin-up (palms facing you) or pull-up (palms facing away) should be included in every one’s program. Considered the “king” of the upper body exercises, much like the squat is for leg development. it is a sure-fire way to pack on muscle mass and be as strong as you look. Go look at the upper back development of Gymnasts and this will give you an appreciation for what a chin-up can provide. However, it is rarely used in people’s programs because of the difficulty of the exercise, and most people won’t be able to complete more than a few reps. People would rather stick with the lat pulldown machine, because of the simplicity and wide variety of different weights. Below I will give you a few benefits and an example program that will dramatically improve your chin-up strength.
Upper back- The biggest benefit of the chin up is developing a large upper back. This is because the chin up targets the Rhomboids, posterior delt, lats, and spinal erectors. With so many different muscles being used, the chin-up is the biggest bang for your buck if you want a big back. Which will benefit you on other lifts such as the bench and deadlifts but also vastly improve your posture.
Bicep-Who doesn’t want big biceps but most are unwilling to do a chin-up. This is because bicep curls are easier and it doesn’t require any strength to curl 20 pound dumbbells. While doing a weighted chin-up requires tremendous amounts of overall body strength but also overloads the biceps. Put down the curls for month and start doing weighted chin ups and watch your arms grow like weeds.
Grip strength-Hanging by a bar with 90 pounds strapped between your legs for 30 seconds requires a tremendous amount of grip strength. Most people’s grips will fail hanging from a bar after 30 seconds, not their backs. Chin-ups are a great way to work on your grip because of the amount of weight and time under tension that is required.
Time efficient- With many people’s busy lifestyle a chin-up is a staple of any program because it works so many muscles at once. This is a better use of time instead of doing 4 different rowing variations. It can also be used during low rep ranges with weight to develop strength or higher reps to develop muscle mass and even used during HIIT circuit training.
Primal-A chin-up is one of the most basic movements that everyone should be able to master. There is nothing more primal that grabbing a tree branch and be able to pull yourself up. If you can’t do a pull-up your either fat, weak but most likely both. If you can’t it’s time to get your chin-ups better.
12 strict chin-ups are a great number to shoot for, and this is the program that will get you there.
Divide the number of chin-ups you can do in half and do 10 total sets. If you can do 6 chin-ups then do 10 sets of 3 reps the first week. After every week add one rep until you can do 10 sets of 6 reps. A this point you should have no problem doing 12 strict chin ups and ready to advance.
At this point start doing weighted chin ups or more advanced chin up variations, both will be discussed in a later blog post.