The Shocking Truth About Chin Ups

Posted by Jason Ferruggia

The straight bar chin up with your palms facing you places too much stress on the wrists, elbows and shoulders and should be eliminated from your program.

Even if you haven’t experienced it yet chances are good that a steady diet of supinated (palms facing you) straight bar chin ups may come back to bite you in the ass… or elbow, eventually.

Pull ups (palms facing away from you) on a straight bar are a bit safer but could also be eliminated if you want to be ultra conservative or you have any shoulder problems.

The simple solution is to stick with neutral grip chin/pull ups with your palms facing each other. You can mix up the grip width and have numerous options to play with.

Another great option is a chin up or pull up done on an angled or EZ/zig zag style chin up bar.

That should be a staple in every gym and should replace the straight bar on the top of all power racks and on all wall mounted chin up bars.

These are far less stressful on the wrists, elbows and shoulders than the straight bar.

The Best Way to Do Chin Ups

The best option is chin ups performed on rings. With rings you can use any grip you want.

You can start with your palms facing away and finish with your palms facing your or you can keep a neutral grip the entire time. It’s up to you and can be dictated by what feels safest and most natural for your body.

When you’re on a fixed bar you can’t move naturally and that’s what leads to problems.

That’s why for a lot of individuals with shoulder issues, including myself, pushups on rings feel better than pushups on the ground; because you can move more freely and naturally.

If you choose to start doing your chins on rings you should be forewarned that a ten rep max may quickly become 3-4 rep max. This is normal so don’t be frustrated.

One quick solution would to attach a band to each ring and put your feet in them while doing your set. When your strength comes up get rid of the bands.

The other solution is to just do a bunch of low rep sets until you are strong enough to rep out on the rings like you can on the bar. When you do that you will end up far stronger and have more well developed stabilizer muscles than if you had just stuck with the straight bar the whole time.

What if You Only Have a Straight Bar?

It’s not the end of the world. Do pull ups (palms facing away) instead of chin ups (palms facing you) and choose the least stressful grip width (usually about shoulder width).

Another option is to do mixed grip chins with one hand facing away and the other facing you. Obviously, you’ll want to change your grip each set.

You can also do parallel grip chins by getting sideways under the bar and gripping it with one hand over the other or by placing a V-grip cable attachment over it.

But in my mind it’s worth the investment to find a gym or rack with neutral grip chin up bars or grab yourself a pair of rings.

You’ll pay far less for them than you will for the doctor’s bills later on down the line.

One final note I should make is that the amount of chins you do should be evened out with an equal amount of rowing motion exercises (face pulls, band pull aparts, inverted rows, etc.) for the upper back.

If you don’t do that you could end up with internally rotated shoulders and a host of other problems you’d want to avoid.

Chin ups are one the absolute best, most badass muscle building exercises you can do and they should be a regular part of every program.

If you can minimize the nagging injuries that may come along with them then you really have a win-win.

To order a pair of rings click HERE.

And for an awesome bodyweight only training program click HERE