The chin up is one of my favorite exercises. It develops your grip, your back, your biceps, your shoulders, your forearms—it’ll hit pretty much your entire upper body. It’s a big exercise that builds efficiency. Less time, more work, get out and play sooner.

Chin Ups for Major Strength

You can add weight to your chin ups and make it into a mass and strength builder for your upper body. Strap an Iron Mind Dip Chin Beltir?t=wormanfit 20&l=as2&o=1&a=B005O1LDZG - The Chin Up around your waist, add 10, 20, 30—heck, even 88 pounds to your chins. As with any progressive strength, go slowly with these, that added weight is a beast on your elbows if you proceed too quickly.

Here’s a video where I added a bunch of weight to my chin and show the technique. I am a big fan of strength training because it accomplishes so much in so little time.

Can’t do a chin up?

Of course, many people can’t even do a chin up. And here I am talking about weight. If you can’t do a chin up, check out Steve Maxwell’s ebook: Your First Chin-Upir?t=wormanfit 20&l=as2&o=1&a=B007YT25I0 - The Chin Up. He’ll whip you into shape.

Max Chins with Knee Raise

Occasionally, I like to perform max sets of chin ups with a knee raise. A max set of the chin up will really work your hands and forearms, and obviously your back and biceps too. It’s important to find a breathing pattern when you do a max set. In fact, in Systema, everything is a breathing exercise. This is a thought worth considering.

Different Sets and Reps

I rarely perform chin ups by themselves and usually superset them with dips. Chins and dips work perfectly together. A great combination. Usually I’ll start with chins and do 5-8 chins and immediately do 5-8 dips. I’ll go as low as 3 reps if I’m adding weight. Three to five of these supersets, with little rest, is about right.

Another alternative is to set a timer for 10-15 minutes and just go back and forth doing chins and dips. This is more for hypertrophy, not strength.

Generally I will work the chin up once per week and then on another day, I’ll work the pull up. I base this off a movement-based exercise program. Alternating chins and pull ups gives me some variety and also gets different angles of the muscles.

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If you can’t do a chin up, working up to one is very rewarding and gives you a great exercise you can do to accomplish a lot in a small amount of time. Go for it!