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- ExRx: Pull-Ups
- ExRx Chin-Ups
- ACE Technique Series: Chin-Ups
- ACE Fitness: 4 Moves to Help You Master the Pull-Up
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Chest Exercises On the Chin Bar
A chin-up bar provides a solid upper body workout.
Exercises at the chin bar -- namely chin-ups and pull-ups -- are some of the best all-around body weight exercises. Do them consistently and they'll almost certainly improve the appearance of your chest. But the fact is, while they may elicit some small amount of activation from the pectoralis minor, they're not going to do much for the pectoralis major.
Most of chin bar exercises' benefit to the chest comes from their activation of the supporting muscles -- in particular the lats, which act as a sort of corset to your upper body, bestowing that well-defined "V" shape.
They also build up the triceps, biceps and shoulders, all of which will help to cast your chest in a most impressive light -- and enable you to press heavier loads when you do resistance exercises that elicit significant activation of the pecs. In the meantime, a closer look at chin bar exercises is certainly worth the effort.
Lead with Your Chin
Although they're two different things, chin-ups and pull-ups are often referred to interchangeably. The difference is that chin-ups are performed with an underhanded grip while pull-ups are performed with an over-handed grip. What they have in common is the actual bar, a simple steel rod that can be a component in a bigger piece of gym equipment, or something as simple as an expandable tube of metal that can be secured in a door frame.
Of the two, chin-ups can claim slightly more activation of the pec muscles than pull-ups. They're also a little bit easier and put a lot less strain on the wrist. The wider the grip, the harder the work, but the more you'll wake up the pecs.
Chin-Up How to: Grasp the bar with an underhanded grip and your hands spaced at shoulder width. Keep your elbows tucked to your sides, pull up until the middle of your chest is even with the bar or your elbows are at your sides. Lower your body until your arms are hanging straight below the bar.
To turn the chin-up into a pull-up, simply reverse your hands and grasp the bar with an over-hand grip.
Pull-ups call for an overhand grip.
Work Your Way Up
Chin-ups and pull-ups are some of the most effective body weight exercises you can do, but they can be quite challenging, especially if you're new to working out.
Try starting out with assisted pull-ups, the "assistance" being provided by a resistance band that you can find in your gym or in most sporting goods stores.
How to: Hang one end of the band around the handles and, depending on the size of the band, insert one or both knees or feet into the bottom end of the loop. Now perform a chin-up or pull-up, using the tension of the band to take some of the load off until you work your way into doing them unassisted.
Martin Booe is a health, fitness and wellness writer who lives in Los Angeles. He is currently collaborating on a book about digital addiction to be published in the UK this December.