chin up

Training chin-ups? Read here how to get started!

The chin-up is the ideal exercise to build a strong back and arms using only your body weight. Performing this exercise may seem impossible at first, but with the right technique and training progression, most people can learn it.

In this blog post, we delve into the benefits of the chin-up, how to learn the correct technique, and how to progressively improve your pulling strength. Whether you’re a beginner or have been training for a while, this blog post will help you enhance your chin-up.


What is a chin up?

The chin-up is not only an effective calisthenics / street lifting exercise but also a versatile one that engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously. By gripping the bar with your palms facing towards you, you place a primary focus on your back muscles, particularly the latissimus dorsi, and your biceps. Additionally, the chin-up recruits muscles in the shoulders, forearms, and even the core, making it a comprehensive upper body workout.

What sets the chin-up apart is the supinated grip, which can be more accessible for beginners than the overhand grip of the traditional pull-up. This makes the chin-up a great starting point for those looking to build upper body strength using their body weight.

How to do a correct chin up?

To execute a proper chin-up, start by hanging from the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart and palms facing towards you.

Engage your core, leg, and glute muscles to maintain stability. Push your shoulders down while keeping your arms extended. Begin pulling yourself up by bending your elbows and concentrate on pushing your shoulder blades backward and downward.

Continue pulling yourself up until your chin is above the bar. Lower yourself down in a controlled manner to return to the starting position.


  • Maintain a stable body position by activating your core, legs, and glutes.
  • Keep your shoulders down and arms extended during the exercise.
  • Focus on the pulling motion, directing your elbows backward and downward.
  • Lift yourself until your chin clears the bar, emphasizing the engagement of your back muscles.
  • Lower yourself with control, returning to the initial hanging position.

By incorporating these key points, you’ll enhance the effectiveness of your chin-ups, targeting various muscle groups in the upper body and improving overall strength and stability.

How do you perform chin-ups safely?

Chin-ups can be intense on the joints, so it’s crucial to train them safely. Pay attention to the following points:

  1. Always perform a proper warm-up and stretch before starting your sets to prevent injuries.

  2. Pull yourself up as vertically as possible, avoiding swinging back and forth. Engage your core, glutes, and legs to maintain stability.

  3. Gradually progress in your chin-up training by applying the tips from the next section.

  4. Listen to your body, and stop if you feel any pain.

By incorporating these safety measures, you can ensure a more effective and injury-free chin-up training experience.

Progressing towards your first chin up

If you want to work towards your first chin-up, it’s important to approach it gradually. Building the necessary strength takes time, but once you can perform that initial rep, subsequent reps become easier.

Building grip strength

Before you start training, it’s crucial to build the necessary grip strength in your arms. Make sure you can hang from the bar in the chin-up position for at least 20 seconds before you begin training the chin-up itself. This preparation will help ensure your hands and forearms are adequately conditioned for the demands of the exercise.

Building pull strength

For building strength, you have two options. You can start by performing eccentric chin-ups, also known as negatives, or use a resistance band.

Negative chin up

Negative chin-ups / Eccentric chin-ups involve focusing on the lowering phase of the movement. Jump or use a platform to get your chin above the bar, then slowly lower yourself down. This emphasizes the negative part of the exercise, helping to build strength gradually.

Resistance band chin up

Alternatively, you can use a resistance band for assistance. Loop the band around the bar and place one foot or knee in it while hanging. The band will provide support as you work on the full range of motion.

Ensure that you use a band that provides enough support without being too much. Ideally, with a band, you should be able to complete approximately 3 – 6 reps. When you can consistently perform all your chin-up sets with 6 reps, it’s time to switch to a lighter band.

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Weighted chin up

Once you’ve mastered the chin-up, you likely want to progress to more challenging exercises. A great follow-up is the weighted pull up / chin up variation.

In weighted calisthenics, you simply add weight to the exercise. This can be achieved using a weight vest or a pull-up belt.

When you begin adding weight, it’s crucial to do so gradually. Adding weight too quickly can lead to injuries.

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Material to train chin-ups at home

If you want to train chin-ups at home, it’s important to have a good calisthenics equipment setup. You have various options to do your pull-ups:

Pull-up station
Wall-mounted pull-up bar
– Doorway pull-up bar
– Set of calisthenics rings
– Power rack

Each of these materials has its own advantages for home training.

FAQ Chin ups

Which muscles do I train with a chin-up?

With a chin-up, you primarily train your back muscles and biceps. Additionally, you engage your core and forearm muscles to stabilize your body.

How can I improve my chin-up technique?

Start with the correct grip and shoulder position. Place your hands at shoulder width and keep your elbows close to your body. Pull yourself up while focusing on engaging your back muscles. Press your shoulder blades down and back. When pulling up, maintain your body in a straight line and engage your glutes, legs, and abdominal muscles to prevent swinging.

Are assisted chin-ups effective for building strength?

Assisted chin-ups are a good way to build the required strength. By using a resistance band, you can reduce the intensity. As you get stronger, you can use a lighter resistance band until you no longer need one.

What is the difference between the pull up and the chin up?

There is often confusion between the terms pull-up and chin-up. While both involve pulling yourself up on a pull-up bar, there are subtle differences between the two.

In a chin-up, you use an underhand (supinated) grip, with your palms facing towards you. This places more emphasis on your biceps during the exercise.

In a pull-up, you use an overhand (pronated) grip, with your palms facing away from you. This places more emphasis on your back muscles.

Both calisthenics exercises are excellent for both hypertrophy and strength building.

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