How to Improve Your Chin-Ups

Whether you’re in the process of learning how to complete your first chin-up or have been doing them for years, it’s likely that you aren’t executing the full movement correctly.

Chin ups are a difficult task – there’s no denying that. But doing them incorrectly poses two major issues:

  1. You’re selling yourself short. Chin ups are a challenging exercise that yields big results when done correctly. If you’re utilising improper form, you may not be engaging the right muscles the exercise is meant to target.

  2. You’re more prone to an injury. Chin ups can be hard on the body. Performing them with correct form will minimise danger and unnecessary strain.

That being said, we want to delve into the most common chin-up mistakes so you can avoid them at all costs and take advantage of one of the most challenging (and impressive!) exercises out there.

You aren’t performing a full range of motion

In order to make the most of the exercise and engage all necessary muscles, extend your arms completely on the way down before pulling yourself back up. Full range chin ups for the win! It’s better to perform less, full chin ups than more, half reps.

You aren’t engaging your shoulders from the start

It’s necessary to engage your shoulders from the very beginning of the movement. If they are engaged too late, you will be pulling yourself up with other parts of the body (joints, tendons, etc.) that aren’t equipped for that type of strain. Engaging your shoulders and scapular throughout the sequence is the most beneficial. Imagine you’re pinching a pen between your shoulder blades and can’t let it drop.

You’re doing too hard of a variation

Start with small steps and easier variations. This can include using the assisted chin up machine, bands or an underhand grip.

You aren’t pulling your chin up past the bar

Again, this ties in with not completing a full range of motion. Begin with arms fully extended and ensure your chin goes past the bar. If you’re finding you can’t quite get your chin up without sticking your neck out, use a band to correct your technique.


You’re moving too fast and using too much momentum

When you move too quickly, you’re actually using more momentum than muscle. In order to get your muscles fully engaged, make sure you slow the movement right down and make it nice and controlled. Focus on the strict pull up first before varying the tempo.