If you are looking for a better physique and greater gains in strength, then look no further than doing chin-ups. Most trainers would agree that chin-ups are one of the best upper body exercises. Did you know that chin-ups are a great core exercise as well? In fact, there was an electromyography (EMG) study conducted by Bret Contreras that measures how much muscle activity is going on with every movement you do. The results showed that when it came to the best rectus abdominus exercise, the chin-up is ranked the best. Just another reason to get started.

Muscle Emphasis
The entire body is being worked with a primary focus on Biceps Brachii (Biceps), Latissimus Dorsi (Lats), Teres Major (internal rotator of the glenohumeral joint), and Rectus Abdominus.

Starting position
Grab the bar with an supine or underhand grip (palms facing you). Start with arms extended in front of you, keep your torso and legs straight while sticking your chest out. Always keep your shoulders down, away from ears.

As you breathe out, pull your torso up until your collarbone is around the level of the bar (at least chin over bar if you lack shoulder mobility). Keep the elbows close to your body.

Pause for a second of squeezing at the bar, Breathe in and slowly lower your torso back to the starting position. Always go all the way down; no 3/4 reps. Most importantly, never use momentum (body swinging). Momentum is only good for one thing, feeding your ego.

Avoid these common mistakes
Using momentum
Pulling chest away from bar
Not going all the way up and down

Can’t do a chin-up?

Try these regressions….

Get Started!
If you are one of those who opt for the lat pulldown or the even the graviton machine, then you are missing out. Chin-ups should be in just about everyone’s program (as long as shoulder mobility is good). Take your body and strength to new heights by simply adding chin-ups to your workout.



Ian Nimblett

Ian Nimblett, CFSC, CSCS, NFPT-CPT and is a functional strength & conditioning coach, personal trainer, and author. He is the founder and owner of Premier Fitness Group LLC in South Salem, NY, a world-class functional training facility that provides private, semi-private, and group training.