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Sternum pulldowns???

Thought I’d give the sternum chins (from the “Next Big Three” article a shot tonight. Failed miserably on them. I switched over to the pulldown machine to try them. I can honestly say that this is the only time I truly felt any chin/pulldown exercise primarily in the lats. At the risk of drudging up the “Holy War” over chins vs. pulldowns again, what about sternum-style? Could this be doable just to build up a little more strength doing them this way?

Strenum chinups? I must have missed that article. If that involves doing chinups but pulling your sternum to the bar, that’s the way chinups should be done anyway. Just my two cents…

Yup, the correct way of performing chins. Been doin’ this way for quite sometime.

Well I must be one hell of a wimp then. I tried the chins initially and got 2, the second rep being a little iffy. Normally I can knock out 10-12 good shoulder width supinated chins at a reasonable tempo (3-0-2), chin clearing the bar. Just to make sure we’re talking about the same thing, as I’ve never seen ANYONE doing them as I’m referring to…head parallel to floor, legs/hips at 45 degree angle at the top position. If so then I’ve got some serious work to do. Would upping my bent-over row weights help with this…I need to balance horizontal pulling strength with my horizontal pushing more anyway. I’m doing 5*5 right now and it seems pointless to use these right now if I’m nowhere near strong enough to complete one set of five.

Do you perform these with a supinated grip or a regular grip? I have problems doing chins with palms facing away like this. Doesn’t feel right.

You’re meant to perform sternum chins with a supinated grip.

If strength is an issue you have two options. The first would be to use cable pulldowns, which as you know is not nearly as effective as a regular style chin-up. The second, which I would choose, would be to ditch the movement and focus on your chin strength. Read or re-read Poliquin’s progression for chin-ups. It’s highly effective and I’ve trained people to go from 0 chins to 8 chins in 2 months time.

Ritchie - Just use the pulldown machine. Nobody barks at people for doing cable rows or using machine rows, but the moment you talk about using a lat pulldown machine, everybody jumps on you and says that chins are the only way. I think that chins are great and all versions of lat pulldowns can be great also. On the other hand, people can swing like a chimp on the chin bar or act like they are in the process of full body spasm while doing lat pulls. There are extremes in every situation.

Sternum chins are quite difficult for most trainees, let alone sternum pullups. Based on my experience, very few people will attempt sternum pullups in the gym because they are not easy. I would think that it is also unreasonable to say “I can’t believe you haven’t been doing your pullups bar-to-sternum all along”. That would be tantamount to saying, “I can’t believe you haven’t been bench pressing 1.5x bodyweight for reps”. In other words, yes, if you are fairly gifted at lifting or are experienced, sure, do it. But to expect everyone to be able to do it is not realistic.

If you are concerned about building strength to do them, try multiple, low rep sets. For you Ritchie, that might be doing 10 singles on the bar over the course of your next workout, with as much rest as you wish. Over time, decrease rest intervals… and then as a next step, increase the number of reps per set. That should get you started.

Yeah, I have the Poliquin Principles book as well as the Upper Back exercises article. I looked at the picture and saw that they had the legs bent at the knees…I was holding them straight out so this may make a little difference. I can’t even remember the last time I used the pulldown machine over chins, but I may do this for a couple of weeks. I am still sore in the lats from doing the pulldowns sternum-style and I rarely get sore from anything. I kinda like the feeling actually. Thanks for the tips everyone.

Pulling to your sternum (just BELOW the chest) is NOT the correct way of doing chins or pull-ups. This is a variation that is a lot more difficult than pulling to your clavicle region (just under the chin) and that is why you won’t see anyone performing them in the gym. I think some of you might be confused as to what these are supposed to actually look like. Take a look at Poliquin’s article called the Top Seven Back Exercises, it’s the first exercise listed. After looking at that, can you honestly tell me that is how you’ve been performing chins ever since you started? I doubt it. The picture in the Next Big Three program doesn’t capture the guy’s body which is supposed to be at a 45 degree angle with the ground, which is NOT the way people perform chins when they first start. Reason being that is too hard at first.

Leo Costa has an interesting back movement. It’s called a Smith Inverted Row. It’s basically an upsidedown row using body weight. Set a smith bar about 3tf high,get on your back and pull up to chest. To make it harder put your heels on a bench. It’s more difficult than it sounds.