The Anatomy of Pull Ups and Chin Ups (Complete Guide)


Pull up and Chin up Equipment

You can perform these exercises on anything that safely allows you to hang at full stretch with your arms extended. There are specialist stations, often called power towers, designed for the sole purpose of doing pull ups and chin ups or you can hang from a power rack, Smith machine or even a sturdy roof beam or tree branch. So long as your feet are clear of the ground, anything will do the job.

As your grip is essential for good pull up/chin up performance, dry hands are a must so you might want to consider using lifting chalk or drying your hands on a towel before each set.

Some exercisers use webbing wrist straps or wrist hooks to enhance a weak grip. I’m not really a fan of gripping aids as they merely address the symptom of weak forearms rather than providing a solution. If you do find your grip is a problem, by all means use wrist straps etc but do your best to wean yourself off them so your grip gets stronger.

Pull up and Chin up Technique

Both these vertical pulling exercises are simple but that doesn’t mean they are easy! Correct technique can help you avoid wasting energy and will make your movements more efficient and economical which should mean more repetitions performed…

Grasp a sturdy overhead bar with the appropriate grip – slightly wider than shoulder-width and palms facing away for pull ups or slightly narrower than shoulder-width and palms facing towards you for chin ups.

Hang from the bar with your arms extended. Bend your knees and cross your ankles – this helps to limit the amount of swinging you do under the bar which can break up your exercise rhythm.

Lift your chest and lean back slightly – the pull up and chin up are surprisingly tough on your core muscles so don’t worry if you feel these muscles engaging as it’s a good thing!

Pull smoothly but strongly with your arms. Continue pulling until your chin is ABOVE the bar and not just touching it. If you lean your head back and thrust your chin skywards you can probably touch the bar despite only performing three-quarters of a repetition so pull up and over and so cheating allowed.

Slowly extend your arms and lower yourself back to full arm extension but DO NOT relax your arms or shoulders between reps. Keep your muscles tense to protect your shoulder and elbow joints.


Chin up and Pull up Mistakes – Next page…

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