Chin-ups and pull-ups are one of my favorite exercises. Great for putting size on your back, improving climbing performance, and maybe the best relative strength exercise there is for the upper body.
Execution of a chin-up can be quite difficult. Many either cut their range of motion short or add in excessive shrugging of the shoulders through out the movement.
The key to performing them well is controlling your shoulder blades. Moving through them is what is going to allow you to drive the movement with the muscles of the back.
To learn to use the shoulder blades we are going to break the chin-up into two parts.Part 1
- Start in a dead hang, let your shoulders shrug to your ears.
- With the muscles of your back pull your shoulders away from your ears with locked arms.
- From this active hang position, drive your elbows down and back reaching your chest as close to the bar as you can WITHOUT letting your shoulders shrug up.
- Lower slowly under control back to your dead hang.
If your working on pull-ups try these form tweaks, and feel your back light up. You may have to reduce your reps at first but if you master the shoulder blade movement it’ll pay huge dividends down the road for your upper body strength.
Once you become proficient at isolating the shoulder blades you can combine part 1 and part 2 and make your chin-up one fluid movement.
Just be honest with yourself, if you find yourself shrugging or losing engagement of the muscles of the back, break it into two moves or lower the reps/weight until you can keep good technique.
Try having an ego about how good your technique is not just about how much or how many you can do.
Trainer, LoHi Athletic Club
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