Chin-ups are the reverse variant of pull-ups. Sometimes they are used as an exercise even in calisthenics to prepare for the classic prone pull-ups.
The reason is that with their correct execution they recruit the brachial biceps muscle to a greater extent and therefore it may happen that where normal prone tractions are not able to be done these are instead successful.
What Are Chin-Ups?
Hold the bar with the reverse grip with arms outstretched, with the width of the grip just over shoulder width.
Make sure you don’t swing and stabilize your shoulder blades, to do this you will need to keep your shoulders away from your ears and your chest slightly open. At this point, move towards the bar with your chin above and forward of it.
Common mistakes are in fact not being able to pass the bar with the chin, making the traction incomplete. Or be able to overcome it, but stay further behind it. Hence the “lie over and forward” rule. The above is the basis for full traction.
It may be that within programming there are also half-tractions in which the movement is only partially performed. This has its own logic which we will discuss later in this article.
Especially in the final phase of the movement, it will be important to bring the shoulder blades closer.
If the starting setting is correct you will be able to favor this attitude too, otherwise, you will notice that your shoulders will tend to approach your ears and slide forward, which you will need to try to correct promptly.
Other very common mistakes are to bring the legs too far forward with respect to the bar and to ” Kipp ” the pull by going to kick.
These attitudes in fact favor the closure of the traction, usually the most critical and tiring point to complete.
However, on the one hand, this will not make your muscles work properly, and on the other hand, it will expose you to a higher risk of injury.
Muscles Involved In Chin-Ups: What Do They Train?
The main muscle of all tractions, including chin-ups, is the great dorsal. When you pull yourself towards the bar in fact it is he who is most active.
Other muscles are the lower trapezius, which holds the scapula down, teres major, posterior deltoid, long head of the triceps, rhomboids, and middle trapezius.
The muscles of the arm and forearm also work, especially in the closing phase. These are brachial, brachioradialis, and brachial biceps. In the case of chin-ups, as mentioned the bicep has more focus than the others.
Last, but not least are the grip muscles, i.e. those that allow you to grip the bar and remain attached to it all the flexors of the wrist and fingers at the forearm level.
Chin-ups can hide some risky pitfalls for this muscle group, which we will discuss later.
Variants Of Chin-Ups And Progressions
As anticipated the pull-ups can also be performed in half since this way you will be able to work on the weak points and fill in your specific gaps.
Chin-Ups Half ROM
Running by ROM ( Range Of Motion ) means halfway to the full version.
You will thus be able to make a half ROM from below, stopping approximately at the level of the forehead, or a half ROM from the top in which you will start from mid-movement and only carry out the closing phase.
These variations are very useful for working a specific part of the movement. Especially when a good level of traction has been reached, closure is the most critical phase.
So you can go and file it thanks to the use of a half ROM. Girls often struggle to unlock movement and leave; in this case, the half ROMs from below can be useful.
Another way to work the closure is to stay still with the chin above and forward the bar in order to generate tension in that point and selectively reinforce that part of the movement.
This stop in isometry can use it in the closing phase but also in other parts of the movement, to reinforce a missing point.
Another very useful factor in training is stops. For example, in performing the full pull movement you can predict points where you will stop for a moment before continuing the movement and completing it.
This will help you both to file any missing points and to “feel” the movement better.
Sometimes, in fact, starting from the bottom it happens to jerk and unlock the traction powerfully.
In this way, we get to overcome the bar with the chin by inertia, living on “income” thanks to the force impressed at the bottom. Retainers can help you avoid this as well.
Chin-Ups With Overload And Weight
To increase the difficulty in chin-ups there is nothing better than a good overload and therefore weight.
Just follow the rules of progressive overload (i.e. increase the loads slightly and dilated over time) to improve this movement.
Difference Between Chin-Ups And Pull-Ups
As previously mentioned the bar chin-ups can have pitfalls. The arm is not meant to be extended in the reverse grip.
In fact, if you try at this moment to fully extend your arms above your head with the palms facing backward, you will notice that no matter how hard you try, you will not be able to orient the palms back 100% and that there is always a certain degree of inward inclination.
All this is due to the elbow and its conformation. Put simply, this is not meant to lie flat with palms facing back and can “get angry” if forced to, as is the case with these pull-ups.
The muscles exposed are those of the forearm or those of the grip. The risk is to develop epithrocleitis, which is a tendon degeneration that is sometimes very painful and long-lived from which to recover.
It is therefore evident that the chin-ups must be dosed very carefully during the programming.
Pull-ups on the other hand are the classic prone-grip pull-ups (palms facing forward). These are more difficult to perform because the biceps muscle helps less. You can in fact use the chin-ups as a preparation to get to unlock the pull-ups.
As anticipated, the width of the grip in the chin-ups should slightly exceed the width of the shoulders. This setting is the one that allows you to move in the most physiological way for the shoulders.
A very wide grip is more difficult in fact because it forces the shoulder joint and partially prevents the shoulder blades from getting closer as they should.
This does not imply that you will not be able to integrate wide-grip variants in the course of your workouts, but you will have to keep in mind the aspects mentioned above.
These variants lend themselves better to low loads at high repetitions and in the pull-up variant rather than chin-ups.
Chin-Ups Workout Card
The chin-ups are precisely an exercise to be dosed carefully and therefore the pull-ups are to be preferred. To train the traction category, however, about 3 times a week is a more than good starting point.
As the weekly frequency rises you will be able to train less in a single session and contain stress.
How many reps and how many sets to do?
The answer to this question is a big one it depends on the level and the person. In fact, if you can only do a couple of chin-ups, it goes without saying that doing high reps is in fact feasible on the spot.
The only way, in this case, is to do many sets with few repetitions (with abundant recoveries). As you increase the number of reps you can do you will be able to do more reps and fewer sets, changing these parameters gradually over time.
What If I Can't Do The Chin-Ups?
If you are not able to perform even a chin-ups the exercises on which you will have to spend your time in training are others, first of all, the horizontal pull-ups or Australian pull-ups.
In fact, it doesn’t help, if not to hurt yourself to hang on the bar and maybe kick the traction in odd ways to complete one. At this stage, your muscles are not ready and you will first need to strengthen them with simpler exercises before doing pull-ups.
Nor should the use of a lat machine be excluded. In fact, with a gym available the possibility that this tool gives to modulate the load is perhaps the most useful and desirable thing for those who have to start from scratch.
You can also plan to supplement your workout with resistance bands assisted chin-ups. You have to keep in mind, however, that the band assists more in one point (starting release) and less in another (closing).
The side effect is that the point that is assisted the most can then be very lacking. For example, a pupil could do several pull-ups if he started with a slightly bent elbow.
If, on the other hand, he started with his arm completely outstretched, he did not even make one. This is due to the big weak point that the elastic had created in the starting phase.
In short, the elastic band can be used, but these aspects must be taken into consideration.
Conclusion on Chin-Ups
Finally, the chin-ups can be both preparation and integration to the pulling exercises. They have their advantages and disadvantages, as seen in this article.
With an overview, it will be easier for you to decide when, how, and why to use them. Have a Good Workout!