How To Improve Your Chin-Up Performance And Build A Wider Back
Chinups involve the pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi, teres major and posterior deltoids, as well as the rhomboids, the middle and lower portions of the trapezius and the elbow flexors. A wide variety of sports require strength in those muscles, particularly sports that call for powerful upper-body pulling action, such as judo and wrestling.
A chinup-specialization program will not only build impressive width and thickness in your back but also pack solid inches on your arms by promoting growth in your biceps, brachialis, brachioradialis and pronator teres.
You only have to look at the arm development of Olympic gymnastics gold medalist Andreas Wecker of Germany to be convinced. Athletes like Wecker aren't known for the volume of training on the Scott bench they do but for the countless reps of pullups and chinups done on the various gymnastics apparatuses.
So many people say, "I'll just do pulldowns instead of chins." I say, go ahead, but you won't get the same results, and you'll still have the lat spread of a cigarette.
The neurophysiological reasons why chinups are superior to pulldowns are beyond the scope of this article, but the classic example of the difference between the two is that a chinup is a closed-chain exercise, meaning that the body moves toward resistance, and a lat pulldown is an open-chain exercise, meaning that the resistance moves toward the body.
Open- and closed-chain exercises require completely different recruitment patterns, although the movements may appear similar. One thing is clear: You can build a great back much faster with chins than you can with pulldowns. Chins are to back development what squats and deadlifts are to lower-body development.
Chinups vs. Pullups:
Basically, the difference between a chinup and a pullup is the way you hold your hands. Kinesiologically speaking—and as identified here—pullups are chinups done with a pronated, or palms-down, grip, and chinups are done with either a semisupinated (palms-facing-each-other) or supinated (palms-facing-you) grip. Which is the best grip for chins?
There is no such thing as a best grip for chins. The people I know who have the best upper-back development use myriad grips to recruit as many back muscles as possible. The upper-back development of most gymnasts is a testament to what I'm talking about.
How To Perform Chinups Properly:
The most basic chinup is the supinated variety. It gives you the greatest range of movement for the lats and upper arms of all chinups. You start by gripping a chinning bar with your palms facing you, or up, and your hands held at shoulder width or slightly narrower. Your arms should be straight, in a fully extended position, with your torso in line with your upper arms. To begin the ascent, you use your relatively strong upper-back and elbow flexor muscles, as your elbows are drawn down and back.
Get the full article in the July edition of Iron Man Magazine. Complete article also includes chinup progression, variations, gymnast's extended-set back routine, and more.
Editor's note: Visit Charles Poliquin's Site at www.CharlesPoliquin.net. IM