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How To Do Pull Ups and Chin Ups For Strength and Muscle

How To Do Pull Ups and Chin Ups - Franco Columbu

In this article, I will be talking about some of the basics of Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups like how to do your first rep, proper lifting form and their differences. Later in the article, I will be talking about more advanced concepts like how to get more muscle activation and how to progress for the fastest strength and muscle gains.

What’s The Difference Between The Two?

The difference between Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups is the way your palms are facing. It is called a Pull-Up if your palms are away from your and it is called a Chin-Up when your palms are facing you. Chin-Ups are easier to perform. If you’re working towards doing your first rep, start with the chin up.

The Grip

There are many different variations of Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups. In all these variations, the only thing that changes is the grip and weight. You could grip the bar closer together or farther apart. The closer your grip is, the easier it becomes. If you’re struggling, start with close grip chin ups. Once you become stronger, you can try the other variations.

The Weight

You can use your bodyweight or add weights on top of your bodyweight. If you are a beginner, just use your body weight.

Once you can do 12 confident chin-ups/pull-ups using the whole range of motion, you can start adding weight. Before this point, it’s more beneficial for you to use your bodyweight.

Proper Form and Technique

If you are working towards doing your first pull up/chin up, check out the section after this one.

For all around development, the best position to take is to grip the bar wider than shoulder width. When you reach the top of the movement, your forearms should be perpendicular to the ground. You don’t want to go too wide because that greatly shortens your range of movement. When your range of movement is too limited, you won’t grow very well.

The very bottom range is sometimes called a dead hang. Once you start the movement, don’t lose tension. Don’t relax your shoulders at the bottom of the movement, this could increase your risk of injury.

When you relax completely at the very bottom, you will lose tension in the movement and this also puts your joints at a very disadvantaged position. It becomes more important as you add more weight to the exercise. Form the habit of keeping tension early on so that you’ll be set by the time you’re using a heavy weight,

The video below shows someone doing chin ups with great form with a lot of weight. Note how he keeps the tension:

Doing Your First Pull Up/Chin Up

If you are working towards doing your first repetition, I recommend 2 simple exercises. Do these on a regular basis and you will be doing your first rep in no time.

The first exercise is the inverted row:

Do 4 sets to failure (as many as you can get) with 1 minute breaks in between. If you want to make it more challenging, perform them slowly. Take 3 seconds to pull yourself up and 3 seconds down. Elevating your legs will make it even more challenging.

After you do the inverted rows, take a 3-5 minute break and move onto the second exercise.

Chin Up Negatives

This is just the negative portion of the chin up. Grip the chin up bar and stand on something if you need to. Jump and use the momentum to get to the top. Once you are at the top, lower yourself slow. Aim for 5 seconds eventually. At first, just take it as slow as you can manage.

Training Cue For Maximum Muscle Activation

Are you doing a bunch of chin ups/pull ups and you can’t feel your lats and biceps working? This means that they are not optimally engaged. Here is something to think about about for maximum muscle activation and optimal growth.

Don’t think of it as pulling yourself up, imagine that you are pulling the bar down towards you. Try it the next time you workout, I think you’ll like the feeling.

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