What Muscles Do Chin Ups Work?

Chin ups work basically the same muscles and muscle groups that pull ups work. Namely the big back muscles of the latissimus dorsi and the biceps in the upper arm

There are others that come into play as the chin up movement involves shoulder extension and elbow flexion. As well as the muscles used to grip the bar itself.

Some people find that doing chin ups can be harder than doing pull ups. This is because you have to hold your arms at different angles with each exercise that some aren’t used to.

Secondary Muscles Worked by Chin Ups

So these secondary muscles will include the rhomboids and middle trapezius in the back. The rear delts as well as a couple of the rotator cuff muscles in the shoulders. And lastly the muscles that flex the elbow and gripping muscles of the forearm.

This doesn’t take into consideration your lower trunk also. The muscles targeted there depend on which position you keep your legs in. Generally, if your legs are in back of you then you are recruiting your low back extensor muscles. However, if you keep your legs in front, then you’re going to bring in your abdominals.

The chin up differs from the pull up because you use an underhand grip doing it and an overhand grip for the pull up. Take a look at the difference in the videos below.


How To Do Pull-ups and Chin-ups With Proper Technique 
Unfortunately Pull-ups & Chin-ups are hard. Very hard. If you’re a beginner, chances are you can’t do 1 Pull-up or Chin-up. This article will not only teach you how to do Pull-ups & Chin-ups with proper technique…




Have You Ever Tried Suspension Training?

TRX Training: The Full-Body, Core-Burning Workout You Should Try 
Ever wonder about that crazy yellow strappy contraption in your gym? That’s called the TRX… and it’s awesome. TRX (Total Body Resistance Exercise) is an workout system that involves body weight and gravity. Invented by a Navy SEAL, Aaron Baldwin …

Check This Out…


But in all seriousness, you don’t have to get that intense. You can get a good workout doing simple stuff too.


 TRX Training Tips & Workouts
Strengthen your core and develop a rock-solid midsection with this TRX program. Circuit 1 – 45 seconds per exercise / 15 sec rest TRX Standing Rollout TRX Superman TRX Standing Hip Drop (Right) TRX Overhead Back …

Door Gym Chin Up Bar

Do You Need A Door Gym Chin Up Bar?

Having a good Door Gym Chin Up Bar is essential for anyone designing their own workout without weights home fitness program. A complete upper body workout without weights has to include a series of back exercises. And in order to work the lats, rhomboids, and traps, you have to be able to do some exercises that require the pulling action rather than the lifting or pushing action.

While bodyweight pull ups or rows can be done simply by suspending a broomstick between a couple of bar stools, a door gym chin up bar is a whole lot more secure. Typical bars don’t require any type of permanent mounting to your door or wall and most are relatively easy to assemble.

Some doors don’t have moulding around them but there is a work around for this problem. What you need is a 3 foot strip of 1″x4″ pine (or any wood/moulding) that you can nail in place above the doorway on one side. Naturally, you may want to do this on a doorway that isn’t visible to company or in the middle of your living room.

2 Door Gym Chin Up Bar Models

There are a couple of models that I would recommend over others simply because the product brand can’t afford to put out crap products. Plus, these same companies have sold a lot of these products and I am sure that most of the bugs have been worked out of the designs. Let’s face it, this is how they make their money. No one will buy from them if the customer feels the company isn’t responsive. The two that I recommend are the P90X chin-up bar, and the Iron Gym chin-up bar.

Both of these have gotten good reviews from their customers but there are a couple of things to keep in mind if you plan on buying a door gym chin up bar. For starters you want to make sure that you know if its going to fit your door frame or not. These two products actually rely on the exisiting moulding around the door to help secure it in place. If you don’t have a door moulding/trim, or, it’s too wide or too narrow, you may have to do some modifications. These aren’t hard to do, it’s just a lot more convenient if you know that you have to do it before you start working out.

Another thing that we’ve found is that because the unit uses leverage with a bracing action against the door moulding it may damage the finish on the door frame. A simple way to get around this is to place something between the door frame and the chin up bar. This can be something like a couple of pieces of dense foam rubber, thick cardboard, or even some thick carpet.

Make Sure Your Door Gym Chin Up Bar Fits You.

Finally, the last things to consider prior to investing in a door gym chin up bar is your body type. Most of these units are rated for people who weight up to 300 lbs. While this isn’t a problem usually, you might find that you need to periodically tighten up the screws that hold the unit together. You wouldn’t want to find out that they’ve worked themselves loose while you’re in the middle of a workout session.

In addition, if you are tall, say 6’2″+, you may need to find a high doorway to put the door gym chin up bar in. The reason for this is that when you are hanging on it with your outstretched, you may find that your knees drag the ground and this will make working out pretty tough. Plus, it just looks funny!

Check out my “learning how to do pull ups” page for more ideas to max your pull up workout.

What Muscles Do Pull Ups Work?

Muscles connecting the upper extremity to the ...
Pullups Work The Latisimus Dorsi Muscles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pull Up is actually one of the best exercises to work most of the muscles in your upper body. Most people do pull ups to work the big muscles of the back. Specifically the latissimus dorsi (lats).  But, when you take a look the whole exercise you get a better understanding that it’s not just the lat muscles that are working.

Starting At The Top

Naturally with any exercise where you’re grabbing a bar of any kind, you’re going to get a workout to your forearm flexors (and extensors) or gripping muscles. But the work on the forearms is going to be a little different. That’s because there is going to be more elbow extension (versus wrist flexion with typical lifting) which may work the proximal forearm more completely by elongating the muscles.

Moving up the arm, the biceps are next. But, unlike regular curls, your basically holding your wrist in neurtal. Sort of like the hammer curl position. It won’t give you a peak on your biceps, but, like the forearm muscles previously mentioned, you will get more of an elongation of the muscle at the bottom of the movement.

Now we’re getting up to the shoulder area. The primary muscles at the joint are the rear delts. They’re going to be activated when extending the shoulders when you’re chin is near the bar (it works thru the whole motion but is most contracted when the shoulder is extended).

But, the main shoulder muscles that pull ups work are the scapular stabilizers. The rhomboids and tapezius (lower and middle) muscles. If the scapula isn’t stable, you’re not going to get many reps in.

It’s The Whole Back

A US Marine Doing Pull-ups.
Pull-ups Work Most Back Muscles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The pull up will actually work the majority of your back muscles. Some directly, like the lats rhomboids. But, when you do the pull up properly, you actually are arching, or more specifically, extending your back. All the paraspinal muscles from your neck to your tail are activated to hold you in the best position to work through the motion efficiently.

And, there’s an added advantage to working on pull ups of distraction of the spine rather than compression. Distraction does a couple of things that are really important for anybody that lives with computers and cars.

Number one, it stretches your muscles and other soft tissue naturally out of the seated position that you’re probably in all day long. It helps to straighten your spine, improve your posture, reduce the potential for back pain and a number of other problems that “sitters” have.

Number two, it also reduces the compression stress on the intervertbral discs in your spine. This is important because, again, most everything that is done during the day actually increases the compression on the discs. And compression on the discs is one of the primary causes of the dreaded “slipped”, “bulging”, “herniated”, “blown”, etc, disc syndrome that leads to a host of unwanted problems and doctors visits.

So, doing pull ups is a good way to get some work into more muscles than just one or two. Hey, back in the day, accompanied by push ups, doing pull ups was considered to be a full upper body workout.

Build a Strong Back for Better Posture (And More Pull Ups!) |
Because of sitting all day, we tend to hunch forward. Our chest and lats can become tight and often the muscles in our back, especially our lower traps, …”

Why Pull Ups are the bread and butter movement to your workout …
Improved posture and core strength are other side effects of pull ups. Come avoid upper back and shoulder pain from uneven muscle tone. This occurs when one group of muscles, like the chest muscles, are over trained …”

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Do Resistance Bands Work?

An easy addition to your bodyweight exercise workout routine is resistance band training. Using them, you can effectively increase the resistance to most exercises you’re doing. But, if you want to do pull ups or chin ups you can also use the bands to decrease the resistance of your bodyweight and do more reps.

You can work harder with the lighter resistance and when you’re starting to fail, you can work lighter resistance with the thicker resistance bands.

Resistance bands inexpensive tool with many exercise uses
Some gyms have a hard time keeping rubber resistance bands stocked. They are small, portable and versatile, making them easy to stuff in a gym bag and take out the front door. For this reason, gyms may require you to check out bands from the trainers.”

My Calisthenics Journey:
Pull-ups are TOUGH, its an exercise that almost everyone struggles with at first. Its also one of the best exercises for your back and your upper body as a whole. The problem is that its hard to getting a decent amount of reps out of the exercises when you’re starting out. Due to this it can take people a long time to build up to being able to get numerous sets of 5 or more reps. This is where resistance bands and in particular rubberbanditz comes in.”

It’s smart to have a set  of resistance bands, or at least 2-3 bands of different thicknesses or resistance. When you do this, you have different amounts of resistance so you can work you muscles to failure easier.