In addition to the weighted dips article, we now want to discuss the perfect technique for a weighted chin up. The lift is much more simple than the dip as it's not too technical, but there are still some things that will boost your performance if you take care of them. In this article, I will explain to you all the small details you need to perform a better chin up on the competition platform!
The first thing that is often neglected is the correct gripping technique. The grip is what connects us to the bar. We want to create as much contact surface as possible to be able to transfer as much force as possible. If you grip loose, you will waste potential before even pulling up 1cm. Always try to get your pinky finger over the bar. Secondly, we want to flex our wrist into a so-called semi false grip. That means we rotate the wrist up as much as possible. Why? This has three big advantages. It shortens our forearms and so we need to pull less range of motion to bring our chin over the bar. Secondly, it brings us and so our center of mass closer to the bar which makes the 'weight path' of our center of mass more efficient as it gets more vertically. The third and last advantage is that it creates more tension in the wrist flexors making the grip more stable.
The described optimal grip technique requires a solid amount of supination and wrist flexibility. If you don't have this, this technique will probably only bring you elbow and shoulder discomfort. So be sure to prepare your wrist and elbows before attempting this. If you need help with this, feel free to schedule your free consulting call for our online coaching so we can help you with this!
Now that we clarified this, let's take a look at the proper execution of the lift and its phases to make sure that you can implement it correctly in your training.
1. The Walk In
Especially if you are aiming for a 1 rep max attempt, the walk-in sets up the base of your performance. I want you to consider the following points and explain to you why they are beneficial.
a) Enter with depressed shoulders and a slightly extended thoracic spine. If your shoulders are already depressed (away from ears) you don't need to pull this range of motion under load. A slight extension in the thoracic spine is recommended to avoid impingement of your subacromial space in that position because this can produce a sharp pain while hanging like this. Also, it aligns your latissimus fibers better with the movement direction.
b) Brace your core and rotate your hips via the engagement of your abs and glutes into a posterior pelvic tilt (PPT). Bracing creates body tension and so less unwished movement in the body. This leads to a more efficient weight path. The PPT with tight glutes creates an abutment to your latissimus and puts it into a slightly elongated position and so allows you to lift off more powerful.
c) Vision upward. You can perform better if you allow yourself to see where you are going to pull towards. This is the same effect that powerlifters use while squatting when they look upwards for the positive movement.
2. The Positive
To get an efficient positive, we want to make sure to keep our center of mass as close as possible to the bar. We want to reduce all leverages that pull us down to be able to pull the max. weight up. If you allow your arms to flare out into too much internal rotation, you create more leverage for the shoulder extensors and so you are creating a mechanical disadvantage. Stabilize your arms into external rotation (keep the elbows close to the body). To have a vertical path and less distance to the bar, it is recommended to keep the shoulders as depressed and retraced as possible, as otherwise the pulling path gets curved and you need to pull more ROM. Keep your core braced to avoid horizontal movement of the weight.
3. The Closing
The closing describes the last part of the positive where your elbows are already close to the body and you mainly curl yourself towards the bar. The closer you pulled yourself up towards the bar in the first part of the positive, the easier the closing is as you have less horizontal range of motion to pull. Keep your shoulder depressed to gain height and to bring your chin over the bar. The elbows stay close to the body as already explained. As mentioned, you can lengthen the latissimus via a PPT in the hips. If you lost it during the positive, make sure to recreate it here to boost your performance as the lat is almost maximal shortened and so a bit of extra length is welcome to increase the strength potential of the muscle.
4. The Negative / Reorganization
As gravity does the negative for you, just make sure to keep it as controlled as needed to avoid horizontal movement. We don't want the weight to start swinging, but that is already it. After the negative, make sure to reorganize your body if you need to go for a second rep. Reset the shoulder position if you lost it, breathe in again, brace the core, rotate hips, and repeat the pull.