Chin Up Tips for Big Meaty Lats

October 29, 2012

Chin Up and Pull Up variations are the cornerstone of Sparta’s upper body programming.  There are a ton of reasons why chin ups are a great movement, but relative strength is what makes chin ups the cornerstone movement.  Relative strength is strength in relation to bodyweight (see Sparta Point).  Chin ups are also unique in that the criteria for success is very simple: move your bodyweight from a hanging position until your chin clears the bar.

Chin ups may be simple, but they are also just plain hard. There are few things more impressive than an athlete with big lats who can crank out 15+ perfect reps.  Because they can be so challenging, technique often suffers as athletes gyrate and squirm trying to get that last rep.  Here are a few coaching keys that will allow you to get the most out of your chin ups and maintain good body position and posture.

Coaching Keys:

  • Create "tension" in your shoulders
  • Initiate movement by pulling bar down to your chin rather than chin up to the bar (its a mindset thing)
  • Keep elbows tight
  • Maintain good spinal position by "tucking" your chin and squeezing your glutes

At Sparta, we gauge every athlete’s upper body level by their ability to hit target reps on chin up and pull up variations. This upper body strength is best reflected in the EXPLODE component of GRF, as this ability to stabilize the trunk greatly improves the amortization phase for quick transitions (see Sparta Point).

So test your upper body level by performing two sets of max rep chin ups (with perfect form) with one minute rest between sets. If you can get at least 10 on both sets for men or get at least 5 on both sets for women, then you qualify as having some legitimate Relative Strength.

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