T Nation

Chin up form?

I have a question about proper chin up form and I am sorry if this has been discussed in previous t-mag articles but I think my question is specific enough to warrant use of the forum.

So when I perform a chin up (palms away is a chin up, right?) My upper arms are not at my sides(against my lats), but almost in front of me (against the point where my chest muscle ties into the ribcage). I will try to explain better. Instead of my elbows pointing away from my sides at the top of the chin, they are pointing in front of me towards my feet. So at the top of the movement my arms look almost like how a person looks after they catch the bar at the top of a clean, without getting their elbows up all the way. I hope that I explained what I look like enough but I will try harder if need be.
My question is that I wonder if my biceps are disproportionately strong to my lats, and therefore I do chinups this way to emphasize my strong arms and deemphasize my lats? I use about a shoulder width grip, so maybe if I moved my grip out more than my lats would activate more and this problem would self-correct? But I thought that I read somewehere that doing wider chins to emphasize the lats was a myth? Anybody have any advice or comments?

k first a pull up in with your palms facing away from you. What your describing is hitting your lats more that if you were to widen your grip. The best example i have heard is to straighten your arm and put it out to your side… bring it close to vertical so that your bicep is touching your head. Feel the lat coming in as you go closer?? So your better off staying close grip. Also if you flip your hands around so that your palms are facing you your going to activate the biceps ALOT more than if you have your palms away from you. Hope i helped. peace

Bring your arms up and make them 90 degress at the elbow joint, like you’re doing a military press or the when the cops yell “hands up”. You’re grip should be just inside there. By your description it seems like your grip is too narrow and the angle that they are at at the top of the PULL-UP, not chin up, makes your elbows go forward. During the motion think of pulling the top of your chest to the bar. These two things should correct your form.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your form. You’re not de-emphasizing the lats at all. Whichever method allows you to use the most weight will hit the lats hardest. Usually, a supinated (palms facing you) chin-up (as opposed to a pronated chin-up, or “pull-up”) will hit the lats more (as opposed to the other upper back/shoulder muslces) and allow you to use more weight.

Facing your palms toward you (supinated) does not necessarily put more stress on the lats. If anything this allows the biceps to contribute more to the lift. This can also lead to wrist/forearm pain if you do it all the time. Palms away (width similar to a military press as mentioned earlier) would be what is considered normal.

Secondly, the amount of weight lifted does not determine whether your lats are hit most. I can lift more with my palms facing me, but that is obviously due to the fact that my biceps are contributing.

Why not alternate methods to experience the benefits of both.

Kinetix, good point, but…

What builds traps better, deadlifts with 400lbs, or shrugs with 50lbs? I’m simply saying that, in general, exercises which allow a heavier load will yeild the best results.

But you are correct; both pronated and supinated should be incorporated into a program. They both hit the same muscles, just some more than others. For instance, supinated chins will allow the biceps to assist more, while pronated chins do not allow the biceps to pull as hard, thus activating the brachialis and brachioradialis more.