T Nation

Chin Ups and Injury: Chad Waterbury Article


Not sure if this belongs here. I have just read Chad Waterbury’s article on doing 13,064 chin ups. He mentions that the supinated grip for chin ups puts too much stress on the elbow and shoulder which could lead to injury. He therefore recommends rings for better, more natural movement during the exercise. I was wondering what people think of the “chin ups” that have the bars sticking out towards you so you do a kind of hammer-curl whilst you’re chinning? Would this movement and hand grip be kinder on the joints?

Neutral grip (what you described) is going to be more joint friendly than supinated or pronated. Rings however also give you the ability to rotate slightly when in a neutral grip (or any other), or adjust width slightly during the movement. IMO this is of huge benefit. I found some rings on amazon for like 30 bucks, got a couple heavy shouldered I-bolts at Lowes, worth a shot if you’ve had issues or are worried about them.

1 Like

Hi. Thanks for the reply. I thought as much. They feel better/more natural when you do them with the neutral grip, plus I really feel my biceps and lats working when I do them. Shame the gym I use here doesn’t have equipment for them.

I have never done them with rings but I think I will get some rings when I am back in a country that sells them in December. The problem I have is I am still struggling to do 5x5 chin ups so I am worried, as rings will be harder, if my progress wil be massively stunted by using them.

I agree with the rings and the reasoning. I’ve had forearm issues crop up for years if I do too much straight bar anything, be that pull ups or barbell work. I like to work in dumbbell work and use rings for the same reason, they allow more natural rotation.

Interesting. I have never thought of the effect on the wrist of barbell work as it is essentially the same thing. So what do you bench, deadlift, row and press with then?

I may not have emphasized it sufficiently, but the key for me is my reference to “too much.” I definitely use a straight bar for my strength work, but I rotate in dumbbells for much of my volume work. It may just be aging, but I find the rotation goes a long way.

I really have no idea if rings are harder or not, I’ve heard opinions both ways. I used to do straight bar stuff, took an eternity off due to an elbow, and do rings now. I’m at about the same volume/sets and don’t have any interest in hitting a straight bar for comparison. (To be fair what got my elbow was a combo of chins and bad low bar squat form, but still not worth it). Even if they are harder it’s no big deal, just drop the reps to whatever you need to and keep building.

On the topic of neutral grip in other stuff, yeah in most cases it’s going to be more joint friendly there too, but harder to get totally away from straight bars as it’s sort of the core of everything. I just do DB rows so I can keep a neutral grip, but use a straight bar for presses and deadlift, then a SSB for squats to save the elbow/shoulder. If joint health is a concern I’ve heard of people going to swiss bars and the like for supplemental work but keeping the main lifts going on straight bars, once I can swing a swiss bar I’m thinking of trying this.

Good luck, it’s great you’re thinking about this BEFORE you have an issue, good spot to be.