No Pain, No Gain. With most efforts in life, the things which are most rewarding often arrive with the biggest price tag. If you want to be a successful physician with a rewarding practice, you are going to need to spend nearly a decade in college, medical school, and internships. If you wish to catch touchdowns or alley-oop passes playing pro ball, you will first have to spend a decade honing your craft, practicing and playing for hours on end each day from a very early age. And yes, if you wish to gain overall muscle strength, size, and thickness, then you are going to need to complete those uncomfortable and sometimes risky compound exercises which yield the most possible gains.
You know about the usual suspects when it comes to building overall mass and strength. Exercises like squats are called compound movements because they hit multiple body parts - quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and hips, among others. Everyone knows the bench press is great for chest development, but also for building up the triceps and shoulders. And for the back, nothing works better for building up the many layers of back muscle groups (along with arms, shoulders, hamstrings and hips) more than deadlifts. However, there is one compound exercise, albeit a somewhat risky one, which is often overlooked in the lexicon of highly effective compound movements.
Chin-Ups an be a highly effective movement for building up many muscle fibers intertwined across your back, shoulders, biceps, and traps. However, it can also be a movement which can lead to injuries, from minor strains to outright devastating muscle tears. Use this movement correctly if you wish to see the best results, and stay out of the operating room at the same time! Check out this list of ideas for getting the most from your Chin-Ups.
With most exercises, you can start using them for the first time while employing the standard "4 sets of 10 repetitions" rule. Since Chin-Ups are a fairly heavy body weight movement involving your entire body weight, the ability of lifters to initially grab the bar and pull up 120 to 300 pounds for ten reps is going to vary greatly! Don't be discouraged if you don't instantly knock them out of the park. Begin with as many as you can complete for 4 sets. This number will slowly but steadily increase as your muscles and tendons adapt to the regular workload. You will want to include them each week on your back training days so that growth isn't squandered every week you decide to skip them. Stick with this movement for 3 months without missing a beat, and you'll notice the number of times you can move your body is going to increase - and quickly!
Using The 50 Chin Rule
The 50 chin rule is a great way for those who are new to using Chin-Ups to become accustomed to them. Make it your goal to complete 50 Chin-Ups per workout. If you have insane strength and endurance naturally, and you're a bit smaller, maybe you can knock out 10 or 15 at a time. Or if you're new to them, perhaps you can only muster 1 or 2 or 3 at a time. That's okay! Make reaching 50 Chin-Ups the goal of each workout when back day rolls around. If you have to complete 25 sets of 2 reps each, then go for it. The amount of growth you will spurn will be monumental. As stated earlier, each week you will see terrific gains in terms of strength.
Lessen the Body English
A human body suspended from a chin bar can create some serious momentum when the Chin-Up begins. You may enjoy this type of leverage, as it gives you the ability to knock out a few additional repetitions. However, that swing is costing you progress in terms of strength gains, and subsequent muscle gains. You aren't growing stronger when you use momentum to pull yourself over the bar - you're just giving your joints and tendons an unnecessary beat down. If you cannot complete that 10th repetition, it is because you are not (yet) strong enough to do so. Eat, rest, and come back stronger next week. If you count that cheated form as a legitimate repetition, then you'll be selling yourself shot when you aim for the 11th repetition next week.
Many lifters who sustain injuries when completing Chin-Ups do so because they allowed some form of "twisting" to enter the fray as they completed their repetition. Others allow a twist when they jump into, or out of, the movement with a bit too much enthusiasm on their parts. Approach every set of Chin-Ups like a professional, with a cool and calm nature. Pull yourself up, then down, and then dismount the bar cautiously once you've completed your final repetition.
Beware the chains
Exercise extreme caution adding weight to your frame when tackling Chin-Ups. Many lifters are enthusiastic to add weight to clipped chains and hang it from their weight belts. Nothing is cooler than taking Snapchat video with 2 or 3 of the 45-pound plates hanging from your waist. But tearing a lat because you haven't reached that level of strength is not something you want to do. Make sure you're capable of ten to 15 perfect repetitions without weight before moving on to adding any weight to your frame for Chin-Up repetitions. And even then, increase that weight gradually. Your body is in a very vulnerable position when you lift using Chin-Ups, so add the weight carefully and slowly.
Use Chin-Ups correctly and you'll get jacked, not jacked up. Do it right, be patient, and the results will be outstanding!