T Nation

Why Rack Chins?


I had never heard of this exercise until recently, but they seem to be catching on here in the forums. What exactly is the advantage that they provide over normal chinups? I don't honestly see how they're any different than normal chins, except your legs are supported so wouldn't that make them much easier?

Rebuild This Somewhat Broken Body

I saw this on the Jason Wojo DC dvd. He placed a heavy db on his lap and used straps with a very wide grip. He also was able to do mini reps at the end (kind of like partials) in addition to doing an extreme stretch. It can be a part of your DC training program.


For some reason, a better stretch and they just turn guys with a narrow lat spread into guys with a wide lat spread far moreso than regular pullups or pulldowns.
It just is.

We've discussed this a lot before... Maybe ask Sentoguy or Gluteus Gigantis for a scientific explanation, I really can't give you one... But the weight is in front of you, that may have something to do with how you can stretch the lats better there vs. the way it is on weighted pullups...


And also the ability for greater progression than with chin-ups/pull-ups is another prescribed benefit.


He still did the weighted stretch. The partials were just an addition to the regular RP set, same thing as him doing a static hold or so on incline offset curls.


They can be apart of any training program. :slight_smile:


It's really individual. I've talked to some guys and some like it some don't. Just try em out. I usually alternate between those and pulldowns. I think it has more to do with the angle it sets you up if done right. Only problem I see most having an issue with is keeping the chest high through out the movement as to lessen bicep involvement



Using any different grip width or anything?


I do have a narrow lat spread despite what I think is comparatively good lat thickness....


is there an instuctional video on how to do these properly? same with inhumans? does foot height on rack chins matter?


Not really.
I think it might be due to the weight being in front and legs up -> somewhat rounded back perhaps at the bottom part of ROM (i.e. the stretch part of the exercise). A rounded back allows for a better lat stretch, that much is certain... Or maybe It's due to the somewhat different angle?
As I said, no real clue about why it is like that. It just is :slightly_smiling:

Takes some time to get them down right, in most cases, many hate them at first but learn to love them later (sort of like the opposite of one's wife? :slightly_smiling:

They're an extremely popular exercise within DC circles and even many non-dcers now, including a bunch of natty pro's and whatnot...

I also think that with weighted pullups, many have trouble really using their lats and they turn it into an arm-flexor + rear delt exercise especially when go very heavy.


Foot height can make a difference of course, but you'll have to experiment.

Jason Wojo's DVD includes a little tutorial on those (DC dvd).
Various youtube vids show them, but some of those are really not that great.

I suggest that you head over to intensemuscle and do an advanced search on them. People have also posted video threads for critique over there, and if you get lucky, then superD or massiveG or Dusty Hanshaw will soon post vids on some of themselves doing some of the more exotic exercises in general.


(and no, there is no in-human vid that I'm aware of, but they're not that hard to figure out either... You can actually search IM for the original description from In-Human himself... He didn't include the scapular retraction but that's common sense stuff, of course.
It was in a thread by future about his favorite quotes from In Human, something like that).


there is none. I'm sorry, a bigger guy can say all he wants on this, but from a biomechanical standpoint it ain't gonna make a difference, assuming all other things equal. Just use a belt if you want to use more weight for a chinup.

But hey, variety in exercises makes things fun. Rather than only doing 1 or 2 great exercises, you have another variation.

there I said it.


thanks ceph


Rack chins allow you to focus on your lats more than chin ups because you don't have to worry about keeping your whole body tight so it doesn't swing.


But, all things are not equal.

Most importantly, which C_C has stated a couple times in THIS thread, the weight is in front of you.

The angle may be similar to a chinup but the weight balance/placement isn't the same... I'd venture to guess this effects which muscles want to naturally dominate the exercise...
(different people respond differently, we know this)
Maybe that is why some people prefer the Rack Chin instead of the Chin/Pull-up.
Just my experience.

So, I think there is a difference.


So if you squat/bench/press in a smith machine it's the same bio-mechanical movement as a free weight equivalent??

With rack chins, not only is the path of travel different, it is also fixed to a greater degree then a regular pull up. There are less stabilizer muscles involved and you are also REDUCING the weight being used, thus allowing a higher rep range to be achieved.

Once you're in the higher rep range, it's then easier to add weight to progress on the exercise.



You funny....


You are wrong. I've done them both and Rack Chins by far stretch the lats and hit them much harder than a regular weighted pull-up. I don't even care what the science says behind it...real world application is what matters. And I can FEEL the difference....there is zero doubt about this.