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  1. AthleticGirl is offline

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    Posted On:
    4/23/2005 7:09pm


     Style: Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Girl

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    Chins and pullups are the king of back exercises

    I've always thought that chins and pullups were better than rows for building strength in the upper back muscles. Right from the beginning of my days training with weights I did chins and pullups ( for the record I use chins as a term for a supinated grip, and pullups for a pronated grip). I've helped several athletes build strong backs using weighted pullups. I've always recommended pullups over rows because the results I've seen when comparing both back size and strength outside of just doing the exercise (functional strength if you will) have always been better from pullups. I've always thought (and this is just my own idea, it is in no way to be taken as fact) that the exercises that make you the strongest are those that allow you to move your body through space such as squats, deadlifts, pullups, and dips. I think this is so because it forces you to control your body forcing your whole body to work as a unit. This also makes these exercises much more intense than other exercises, which is also a likely reason that they work better than others.

    If you think about the mechanics of each lift it is easy to tell why this is so. Think about the movement of the elbow around the shoulder joint during a chin. The elbow starts in an overhead position and is rotated down to the point where it is approximately parrellel to the spine and lats. In a row, the elbow begins perpendicular to the body (straight out as in a bench press). During the execution of the lift, the elbow rotates around to the same finishing position as the chin, the difference is that the row is only about half of the range of motion of the chin. A lot of guys don't like chins simply because either 1. They can't do any or 2. They can't strap on a lot of weight. 3. It's hard to cheat a chin.

    In a row, most guys you will see are throwing their lower back into it to pull more weight and not doing the full range of motion. I've always believed that range of motion is an important part of any strength exercise. Generally, if you cut out certain ranges of motion in an exercise, you will not build much in the way of strength in those ranges, build imbalances and also reduce flexibility all of which can result in injury, which no athlete wants. That is one reason why I don't care for using a powerlifting style bench press for athletes. They arch their back to severely limit the range of motion, tuck the elbows which further limits range of motion. All of this results in a lot more 'weight lifted' but isn't strength in the sense of usable strength on the field. If you watch many of these guys, the bar only moves a few inches.

    For a guy who can't do any chins, a good way to start is with rows while at the same time working on chins in a negative only fashion. This will build up the strength needed while simultaneously giving the athlete a good workout. When I first started weight training I couldn't chin so I would do this workout for my back.

    For those worried about using a lot of weight, I'd suggest to first drop your ego, and second, look at it by way of how much total weight is lifted. For example, my boyfriend is about 185lbs and he does pullups with about 100lbs added. In total that would be about 285lbs (minus a few for the weight of the lower arms). That is a lot of weight. If you are fat, you'll want to work on losing some of the gut anyway, which will aid you in building up some pullup ability, albeit without actual strength gain in this instance.

    I know the first thing people are going to bring up is that many people do rows with the elbows out, which will work more of the rhomboids and trapezius muscles of the upper back. To this I say that the rhomboids work scapular rotation, which will happen as well during chinning exercises if they are done in a full range of motion. There may be a case for the traps, but I think they can be worked better by doing exercises for them, especially if you are doing deadlifts in your program.

    There is also a slight difference if you do pullups because the elbows actually don't rotate as much around the shoulder joint and instead are pulled outward along side of it. I don't believe that this changes anything much in the muscles used, but it does take a bit of the bicep muscle out of the exercise and theoretically, I think it may work the lats better due to less friction from the lats wrapping around the ribcage during the pull. That's just my own speculation, though, but I think it is good to both chins and pullups in different workouts to change it up.

    If you don't have a belt, there are many online stores where you can buy one, and you might be able to pick one up at your local sporting goods store. Or you can just do like my boyfriend and make one using a regular weight lifting belt, about 2 feet of chain and a couple of D ring clips which costed maybe $20.

    I'd suggest to everyone to give chinning a try in place of rows for a while if for nothing else than to change it up and see what benefits you get.
  2. VikingPower is offline
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    Yes Koto got his name changed, quit asking...

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    Posted On:
    4/23/2005 7:12pm

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     Style: Kyokushin Karate

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    This is how you should present a discussion. I'd almost give you rep if you weren't so damn annoying.

    I do agree, however. I'm a big fan of dead-hang pullups myself.
  3. Traditional Tom is offline
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    Posted On:
    4/24/2005 10:07am

    supporting member
     Style: Mixed Martial Arts

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I opened this thread expecting to see:
    "Chins and pullups are the king of back exercises
    Discuss".

    Now I shall open up google and look at the different variations of pull ups and chin ups so I can understand just what the hell you guys are talking about.
  4. Arrichion is offline

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    Posted On:
    4/24/2005 10:46am


     Style: BJJ

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Can anyone do this pullup variant, or know what it is called?:

    Start from a dead hang, w/ legs straight out. Otherwise known as the 'L-pullup'.
    but ... As you pull up, lean back and raise legs up.
    The end of the move your torso is horizontal and your legs are vertical. You are now in a row position, touching bar to mid torso.
  5. Beaney is offline

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    Posted On:
    4/24/2005 11:26am


     Style: Tang Soo Do

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Few things i'm confused about. Can someone explain the difference between a chin up and a pull up in layman's terms. I had a look on ExRx and they seem to be exactly the same and with the same descriptions. Also, what is the best way of holding these wieghts when you are doing the chin/pull ups, if you don't have a weight vest/belt? Thanks in advance
  6. VikingPower is offline
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    Yes Koto got his name changed, quit asking...

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    Posted On:
    4/24/2005 11:33am

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     Style: Kyokushin Karate

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Traditional Tom
    I opened this thread expecting to see:
    "Chins and pullups are the king of back exercises
    Discuss".
    So did I to be honest....

    Now I shall open up google and look at the different variations of pull ups and chin ups so I can understand just what the hell you guys are talking about.
    Basically there's two kinds of pull-ups: palm facing in towards you or facing away. Depending on the width you can hit your muscles in different ways. I personally like palms facing away from me, with a wide grip as it tends to hit my back a lot more, but it all boils down to personal preference. Dead-hang is basically where you use all your upper-body strength to pull yourself up, no kicking or weaving to help you get up (cause that's cheating). I like to cross my ankles and fold up my legs behind me a bit because I feel more centered that way and there's no way I can kick or cheat.

    Negatives are when you basically have someone help you into the up position, then you slowly lower yourself down. There's also a flex-arm hang (females in the Marine Corps do these instead of pull-ups, why I don't know) which is basically holding the up position for as long as possible. After you get good at pull-ups for a while, you can add weight by the use of a dip belt, a belt that straps around your waist and you can attach plates to.

    Rows work just as well if you do them properly, but most people don't and it's harder to cheat with pull-ups. The difference between pull-ups and chins is pull-ups you go up, do the rep, and come back down keeping your arms straight. Chins is where you see the guys who still maintain a flex in their arms when they go up and down. Don't be that guy, do dead-hangs.

    That's basically all of it.
  7. VikingPower is offline
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    Yes Koto got his name changed, quit asking...

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    Posted On:
    4/24/2005 11:35am

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     Style: Kyokushin Karate

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Arrichion
    Can anyone do this pullup variant, or know what it is called?:

    Start from a dead hang, w/ legs straight out. Otherwise known as the 'L-pullup'.
    but ... As you pull up, lean back and raise legs up.
    The end of the move your torso is horizontal and your legs are vertical. You are now in a row position, touching bar to mid torso.
    You mean like straddle pull-ups?

    http://www.dragondoor.com/articler/mode3/229/ (Go towards the bottom)
  8. Arrichion is offline

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    Posted On:
    4/24/2005 12:32pm


     Style: BJJ

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Beaney
    Few things i'm confused about. Can someone explain the difference between a chin up and a pull up in layman's terms.
    AFAIK
    pullup = palms facing away from you
    chinup = palms facing towards you

    dead hang = lowering yourself all the way down to full extension of the arms, and pausing, instead of only lowering yourself part of the way and bouncing back up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Koto_Ryu
    You mean like straddle pull-ups?

    http://www.dragondoor.com/articler/mode3/229/ (Go towards the bottom)
    Yes like that, except the start is an L-pullup, the end your legs are pointing straight up. Extremely hard on the back and core.

    See L-Pull-up
    http://www.crossfit.com/cf-info/excercise.html

    and #3 - Free Hanging Pull-Up Rows
    http://www.fitstep.com/Misc/Newslett...sue28-back.htm

    Combine these two, and pull all the way up to the stomach.
    I've only been able to pull up to a 90 degree bend on the arm.
    Last edited by Arrichion; 4/24/2005 12:50pm at .
  9. MEGALEF is offline

    Still digging on James Brown

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    Posted On:
    4/24/2005 4:18pm


     Style: BJJ & Judo (1k)

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I've been waiting for an excuse to post this video of me doing pullups.
    http://medlem.spray.se/hotdwag/
  10. Ronin is offline

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    Posted On:
    4/25/2005 6:54am

    Join us... or die
     Style: Shi Ja Quan

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    A word on "dead hangs":

    Do ONT do them if you are doing chins/pullups with weight added to your body, the stress that can be palce don your shoulders can lead to injury.

    Stop just short of a "dead hang".

    Now, if you can pump out 15 reps or ar doing BW only, that is different, though some would argue that if you are doing BW chins and you can only do a few, you may also be in danger of putting too much stress on the shoulder, but I find that its when you add the weight that you are in "danger" of damage, much along the lines of going to "deep" in a dip.
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