Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredBodyweight
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePull (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Abs, Biceps, Shoulders, Upper Back
Target Muscle Group


Lats Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Chin Up Overview

The chin up is a variation of the pull up and an exercise used to build the muscles of the back - particularly the lats.

The chin up differs from the pull up in that the chin up allows for a greater degree of bicep involvement during the pulling movement.

Vertical pull exercises such as the chin up are critical to have in your workout program to build a well balanced and strong physique.

This exercise can be included in your back workouts, upper body workouts, pull workouts, or full body workouts.

Chin Up Instructions

  1. Using a supinated grip, grasp the bar with a shoulder width grip.
  2. Take a deep breath, squeeze your glutes and brace your abs. Depress the shoulder blades and then drive the elbows straight down to the floor while activating the lats.
  3. Pull your chin towards the bar until the lats are fully contracted, then slowly lower yourself back to the start position and repeat for the assigned number of repetitions.

Chin Up Tips

  1. To decrease bicep involvement, use a false (thumbless grip).
  2. Try to keep a neutral head position (looking straight ahead or slightly up) as hyperextending the neck can lead to compensations throughout the spine.
  3. If the bar is high enough, keep the legs straight and in front of the body.
  4. Avoid falling into overextension of the lumbar spine by squeezing your glutes and bracing your abs.
  5. The chin-up is completed when the lats are fully flexed, don’t continue pulling and compensate with the pecs.
  6. Imagine you’re trying to drive the elbows down as you pull.
  7. Keep your shoulders down and back, if they round forward at the top then you’ve pulled too far.
  8. A lifter’s segment length will determine whether or not they can actually get their chin over the bar, it’s not an absolute for everyone.
  9. Lower to almost full extension of the elbow but avoid locking out completely as this can place excessive strain on the ligamentous structures within the elbow and shoulder.
  10. If you can’t complete a single bodyweight chinup, start with slow negatives or flexed arm hangs at the top position.
Posted on: Sat, 03/06/2021 - 13:23

hello, i can onlym do 1 or 2 pull ups at at time before i lose grip. Do you suggest using a assisted pull up machine to train my muscles first before attempting some chin ups?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 03/08/2021 - 09:50

Hey Michael - I'd stick with doing as many as you can and trying to add in 1-2 more if you can. The more to train them, the better you'll get.

Gavin Deal
Posted on: Thu, 03/14/2019 - 03:06

If your able to get the 2x8 pretty easy, should you just do more reps? Or what would you suggest?

Posted on: Sun, 06/06/2021 - 20:26

Definitely... Do whatever it takes to get them done.... Or as much of them as you can

Posted on: Tue, 05/06/2014 - 19:48

hi i am josian:
i have a question for you:
is there an exercise that i can do with dumbbells
that can work the same muscle groups that chin up do?
thank you!
your friend,

Posted on: Fri, 12/04/2015 - 06:45

Of course. Try Dumbbell Rows with both overhand grip and underhand grips.
That will hit both your biceps and lats.

Posted on: Sun, 01/29/2017 - 18:38

Cable face pulls if you are looking for size gotta do some body weight exercises

Ahmer Rashid
Posted on: Mon, 11/18/2013 - 17:19

How do we breath in and breath out while doing chin ups ?

Posted on: Wed, 03/18/2015 - 17:25

Keeping breathing in or you'll die. Good luck.

Posted on: Sat, 08/20/2016 - 11:21

take in large inhale, begin exhale as soon as you start to pull up. at peak of pullup start inhale continue inhale to full downward entension, once at full extension. start pull up will simontanesly starting exhale again

John P
Posted on: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 06:45

Hi I wanted to do chin ups but I don find chin bar so what is the best alternate exercise pls tell me th best
Bcos I wanted to strengthen my latts and mobilize my scapula so please
Help me thanks.

Robert F
Posted on: Tue, 06/03/2014 - 11:58

Hi John, you can do close and wide grip cable pull downs. Another trick is to sit reversed on your smith machine and grab the bar just like you would do chin ups and pull down. Similar results.

fazal kl
Posted on: Sat, 12/19/2015 - 03:52

thank u

Posted on: Sun, 04/14/2013 - 10:58

I cant even do one chin up... how do I improve my strength to do it?

Posted on: Sat, 06/08/2013 - 07:00

Your arms must be strong to do this.Concentrate on your arms exercise

Posted on: Fri, 12/04/2015 - 06:52

Everyone's like that in the start. You just have to do it slowly and steadily.
First do negative chin-ups. Try to reach 5 sets of 5 reps or until you start to do proper chin-ups.

abhishek verma
Posted on: Sat, 11/17/2012 - 05:02

i just want to ask that i want bigger biceps.not too much.but it should be of considerable size.i have been doing gyming since last 8 months.but with unwanted halts.so can u please tell me what should i do for this?

Posted on: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 13:05

i was wondering if it mattered which way to position your hands. im just begginning this workout and i want to make sure i do it right.

Posted on: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 18:38

I personally love doing chin-ups, but I want to avoid the 'pencil-look'… should I hence lessen trap exercises in my workout?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 09/27/2012 - 14:43

Deadlifts, heavy shrugs, cleans, rows, overhead pressing...these can all help.

Kyle Wright
Posted on: Mon, 09/24/2012 - 21:26

could you do lat-pull downs instead of bodyweight chin ups?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 15:52

Yes, or foot supported rack chins.

Posted on: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 20:49

If your having trouble with chin ups you can use a chair to help.

Posted on: Sat, 05/26/2012 - 13:57

I had to do research to find out how a chair is suppose to help. From what I understand it's called a negative chin-up. You basically stand on a chair that gets your chin as close to the bar as you can get and then contract the muscle groups then lower yourself down to the floor. If I am understanding this in three reps of six and keep adding a rep to one set as you continue. On the second week you are to see if you have formed enough muscle to do one "real" chin up. Is this what is meant by using a chair to help with chin ups?

Posted on: Wed, 04/18/2012 - 13:13


I've been doing this program for 8 weeks now. I'm a hard gainer, thin, with lots of lean muscle and very little fat. I'm using this program to bulk up. It is working and I've shown a 10-12 lb gain in 8 weeks. To answer your question, being someone that is actually almost done with the program, I'll say that you should do as many as you can with GREAT FORM, and then stop when you can't do anymore. Wait about 30 seconds, and then do that quantity again until you get through an entire set of 8. Wait the 1 to 2.5 minutes between sets, and then do it all over again. Eventually, you will get through it with ease as the weeks go on. Good luck!

Posted on: Sun, 04/15/2012 - 16:29

This is the ONE exercise that scares me and takes me back to days of being laughed @ in gym class! Program says to start with two sets of eight. What if you can only do 2 or 3 reps to start? Substitute something else? Or push through it? REALLY curious on options!

Posted on: Fri, 10/17/2014 - 17:46

Try using a spotter or a chin assist , then slowly start progression over time try reducing the weight like every week as soon as you feel that you can start doing more reps , this provides you less assistance with chin ups as you progress

Posted on: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 23:58

What's the minimum number of chin ups we should be able to do before incorporating this into a routine? If I can do 2/3 it seems pointless until I can do more, and I should concentrate on getting to be able to do at least 5-10 or so... right? What other exercises will help me get to be able to do a decent number of chin ups?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 12:50

Hi Gav,

It's not so much the minimum. You could use this in a routine if you could only do one chin up. The real focus should be on improvement, or trying to get more. Over time that will help you reach your goals.

Here is an article that can help you improve: