How to Do Close Grip Chin Up Properly

The close grip chin up is one of the best ways to grow muscles in your biceps and back.

The chin up is a compound upper body body-weight exercise. This exercise involves you pulling your body from a dead hang position, getting your chin over an elevated bar, using an underhand grip.

The chin up is commonly confused with the pull-up. In the chin up, you grab the bar with your grip facing you. The pull-up has the group facing away from you.

To do this exercise:

  • Grab a bar with an underhand grip and have your hands six to eight inches apart.
  • Hang at arm’s length and point your legs slightly in front of you to form a wide C.
  • Press your thighs and brace your abs.
  • Keep your body rigid for the entire motion.
  • Pull your elbows to your ribs and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Pull yourself up and imagine you’re pressing down on top of the bar.
  • Look straight ahead and lift until your neck or upper chest touch the bar.
  • Hold the position then slowly lower your body to a dead hang.

What Muscles Do Close Grip Chin Up Work?

The close grip chin up works primarily on the biceps, lats, rear delts, traps, rhomboids. It also works on the pecs, abs, obliques, erector spinae and forearms.

1.      ARMS

The close grip chin up is a bodyweight exercise that requires you to lift your body from a dead hang.

This means that it engages the muscles in the arms to enable you to lift.

The main muscles targeted in the arms are:

Biceps brachii. This is a two-headed muscle that contains two heads: the long head and the short head. They act on the elbow and shoulder.

They help maintain the grip of the bar.

The narrower the grip, the more your biceps will be engaged.

Forearm. Muscles in the forearm help keep your arm pronated (grip facing you). The forearm muscles work in tandem with the biceps to help with flexing the elbow.

Triceps. These are the muscles found on the back of the upper arm.

The long head of the triceps is engaged when doing the pulling motion.

Rotator Cuff Muscles. These include the infraspinatus, supraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor. They help stabilize the shoulder during the pulling motion.

2.      BACK

Latissimus Dorsi. This is the largest muscle in the back. It is a flat triangular muscle across the width of your mid and lower back.

It is commonly known as the lats. Well-built lats form that tapered look in your back.

The main functions of the lats are adduction, extension, transverse extension, flexion from an extended position and medial rotation of the shoulder joint.

The lats attach directly to the spine. They are responsible for moving your trunk up and down during the close grip chin up movement.

Lower traps. The trapezius are a large triangular muscle in the upper back that stretches from the bottom of the skull to the lower thoracic vertebrae of the spine.

Laterally, the traps spread to the shoulder blade.

The lower traps assist the shoulder blade to depress.

Rhomboids. This muscle is found in the mid-back. It sits between the shoulder blades. It provides stability to the shoulder during weight lifting motions of the arms.

They help pull the scapula back during a chin up.

Erector Spinae. This is a collection of muscles found along the spinal column. Their main function is trunk extension. When doing chin ups, these muscles help maintain good posture.

3.      CORE

Obliques. These are located along the sides of the lower torso. They help with bending and twisting of the spine. When you hand from the chin up bar, you engage your obliques.


The close grip chin up has the following benefits.


The primary muscles engaged during the chin up are the muscles of the back. This helps you build a stronger back.

This helps you maintain good posture and helps lower the risk of back pain.


The chin up is a great compound exercise. This means it activates multiple muscles to conduct a complete movement.

Working multiple muscles at once helps improve coordination.

The chin up is also one of the most effective exercises to build a strong back.


If you want to burn more calories, even at rest, the close grip chin up is a great exercise.

As a compound exercise, it requires a lot more calories and oxygen to provide energy for the movements.

The building of lean muscle mass will also boost your metabolism. The more muscles you build, the more calories you burn while active or at rest.

Other benefits of the chin up include opening up your chest, increasing the range of motion for the shoulders, opening your chest up and improving grip strength.


1.      BEN-OVER ROW

Bent-over rows work the same muscle groups as the close grip chin up.

All you need is weight such as a barbell.

To do this exercise:

  • Lean forward at the waist.
  • Keep your back as straight and horizontal as possible. You can keep your knees slightly bent.
  • Lower the weight with control then lift.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.


To do this exercise:

  • Stand in front of a pull-up bar.
  • Loop a band around the bar. Bend one leg and put the band under your knee and above the shin bone.
  • With both hands, grab the bar and pull yourself up.


Avoid performing the close grip chin up when you feel any pain. This exercise should be pain-free.

If you are feeling any pain in your shoulders ensure you seek medical attention immediately.

If you can’t lift yourself above the chin up bar it may mean you are overweight. You may need to lose more weight before attempting chin ups again.

You may also need to try weight training exercises that target your arms and upper back. This helps you improve grip strength and upper body strength.

Ensure that your body stays in alignment when doing the close grip chin up. Don’t tilt your head up. This puts extra strain on your neck.

Finally, you should make sure that your grip is within 6-8 inches. If your grip is wider than shoulder width, it will make the chin up more difficult to execute.

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