One of my favorite exercises, whether you are a weekend warrior trying to get in better shape or an athlete, is the chin up. Hopefully the chin up hasn’t been overlooked in your training program, though I fear it has. I rarely see people performing a chin up, while I regularly see them performing the much less effective lat pull-down, an exercise that doesn’t give near the bang for the buck as the chin up (not to say there isn’t a time and a place for a lat pull-down).
Another obvious reason that people tend to stay away from the chin up is because of its difficulty…many beginners can’t even do a single unassisted chin up correctly. However, the chin up has so many benefits that no matter what your training goals are or what your training level is, chins are an obvious choice. Chin ups are one of the best muscle building exercises for the entire back and great for shoulder health, something that many people suffer from whether they are aware of it or not due to slaving over a hot computer all day. Chin ups can help to balance out the effects of the bench press and other pressing exercises which will only improve shoulder health.
The chin up can also be very versatile depending on your training goals. If you are looking to improve your strength, chin ups can be done in a lower rep range (i.e. 4-6) with an added external load or with your own bodyweight if your chin up strength isn’t where you want it to be. On the other end of the spectrum, if your goals are more hypertrophy based, a higher rep range (i.e. 8-12) with your own bodyweight can be done if you are strong enough or band assisted if you need the extra help to reach the higher reps.
Weighted Chin Up
Band Assisted Chin Up