The chin-up (also known as a chin) is a strength training exercise designed to strengthen the latissimus dorsi.
A chin-up has a specific form. The movement begins with the arms extended above the head, gripping a fixed chin-up bar with a supinated grip (palms facing the exerciser). The body is pulled up until the bar approaches or touches the upper chest. The body is then lowered until the arms are straight, and the exercise is generally repeated. When performed with palms facing away from the body in an overhand (pronated) grip it is known as a pull-up.
Chin-ups can be performed with a kip, where the legs and back impart momentum to aid the exercise, or from a dead hang, where the body is kept still. Performing the chin-up correctly can be tricky because of the natural tendency to do most of the work with the biceps rather than the lats. Initiating the pull with the shoulder blades helps avoid this problem. The exercise is most effective when the body is lowered down to a full extension.
Closed grip is when you have your thumb on the other side of the bar than the rest of your fingers. In this position your forearms are using extra muscles just to hold you up on the bar, so open grip where you have your thumb on the same side as the other fingers is easier and you can make more repetitions.
Chin-ups target the latissimus dorsi muscle, assisted by the brachialis, brachioradialis, biceps brachii, teres major, posterior deltoid, infraspinatus, teres minor, rhomboids, levator scapulae, middle and lower trapezius and pectoralis muscles. Chin-ups are thought to build width and thickness to one's back, as well as to promote growth of the biceps, brachialis, brachioradialis and pronator teres.
Specific training is needed in order to increase chin-ups performance. The performance can be measured in various ways:
Various organizations like Guinness World Records maintain lists of world records for chin-ups and pull-ups. The current record for chinups done in 1 minute is 51 by Jason Petzold (USA).
A useful exercise for beginners is the negative chin-up, where one is assisted to the top position and executes a slow, controlled descent. This is useful for those not strong enough to perform a concentric chin-up, and can also be used to keep training at the same weight when one is too exhausted to continue performing the concentric portion of the exercise.
Beginners who are not strong enough to perform a chin-up may make use of an assisted chin-up machine, where one stands on a bar with a counterweight to reduce the weight that one pulls up. These machines frequently also include a dip bar, allowing for assisted dipping. This keeps the exercise a closed-chain movement.
Another machine, which is open-chain (the person remains stationary, the resistance moves) which mimics the movement and is also helpful to training is the lat pulldown. Unlike the counterweight machine, the lat pulldown can provide as much or more resistance as a normal chin-up or pull-up through use of a counterweight stack. The lifter locks a pad into place above their thighs (near to the hip) to prevent them from rising off the ground when the resistance provided by the counter-weight (lifted through a pulley mechanism) goes beyond their body's.
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