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Workout Exercise Essentials: Chin Ups

The chin up is one of the most basic, yet difficult, exercises performed correctly. When you see it performed in the gym, it looks impressive but a lot of people don’t understand the true benefits of the chin up.

After all, it looks like a fantastic back exercise. But it’s also a fantastic move to incorporate into your programming if your goals include increasing your vertical jump, increased speed, power,and leaner abs! From a “back” exercise?

A lot of trainers refer to chin ups as the squats for the upper body. They’re that important. Chin ups are a great indicator of your relative strength i.e. your strength in relation to your body mass. 

They increase the power you can generate in your arm swings. This can therefore increase your sprinting speed as well as being more effective in your arm swings to generate more power and air time into your vertical jump. Most sports are lower body dominate but increasing power in your lower body with out having upper body power is going to upset the symmetry when you attempt that triple extension (extension the ankle, knee and hip) as you push off the back foot along with the back swing of the opposite arm.  

To keep control of your body as you pull yourself up and over the bar requires a lot of core strength. Increasing your core strength keeps your body more stable when performing jumps and sprints. Because of their difficulty, the compound exercise works a lot of muscles including trapezius, pecs and obliques as well as obviously your back and biceps. This makes it a fantastic exercise for burning fat!

“But they’re too hard to perform,” I hear your say. Well great gains never come easy! Challenging yourself makes yourself better! Check out my earlier blog HERE on how to perform and increase your chin ups! As well as following the eccentric formula, try inverted barbell rows, isometric holds at the top of the chin up for 10-15 second reps. If your chin up is really weak and you can’t perform a single eccentric pull up (lowering yourself from a bar) then do heavy lat pull downs for 2-3 reps to increase your back strength until you can perform eccentric pull ups