Chin Ups and Pull Ups with VSPX2 and Power Bands

Our Valkyrie Squat Racks allow you to perform Chin Ups and Pull Ups in a variety of different ways.

Here’s a video to help you understand which grip is going to be most appropriate for you and how you can build your strength in this movement.

We hope you find this helpful and also plan to release more educational content soon - so let us know if there’s something you’d like to learn more about in the comments.

Chin Ups + Pull Ups

When it comes to chin ups and pull ups, you might be wondering when you should use each variation, and if that variation is going to be appropriate for you. If you're using a rack like the VALKYRIE VSPX2, you will see that we've got an abundance of different options that we can choose from. We can position our hands in the neutral grip, an overhand grip, an underhand grip, even a wider grip. You can see that their bars invert slightly, too. This functionality is fantastic, but it can be quite confusing to know where you should position your hands.

What does the exercise actually target?

This is a pulling exercise. It's going to target primarily the lats, the major muscle found in the back, as well as the biceps. This is considered a compound exercise, compound simply meaning that we've got multiple joints moving therefore multiple muscles are working.

The Anatomy of the Pull-Up

Before you start, I think you really first have to understand a little bit of anatomy about the bicep. The way in which we move our wrist is going to determine which muscles within the bicep are emphasized and which muscles primarily contract. The bicep isn't just necessarily one muscle. There's a short head of the bicep as well as a long head and there's also the brachialis, which is a smaller muscle in between the main bicep head and the tricep. The brachialis is located here. It’s a much smaller muscle group and not quite as strong in comparison to the main bicep.

Curls and Bicep Strength

If you perform curls you might have noticed, that you feel much stronger in the hammer curl position - the neutral grip - in comparison to when you supinate your grip and you form a regular bicep curl. You might also notice that if you were to ever perform a pronated grip position, that would feel even weaker. So again, we're strongest in the hammer curl position with the neutral grip, we're a little bit weaker in the supinated position, and we're the weakest in the pronated position.

The reason why is that in the supinated position, the main head of the bicep is very much switched on and activated. In the neutral position, you can see that the bicep actually lengthened a little bit. The benefit of this position is that we get dual recruitment of both the bicep brachii as well as the brachialis. Whenever we involve more muscles in the movement, we're going to be stronger as we have more recruitment of different muscle fibers. So in that position, the biceps brachii as well as the brachialis will be involved, therefore we're able to handle more weight because we've got two little helpers. Then when we pronate, it primarily switches up a lot of the bicep brachii but puts a lot of the load on the brachialis. And because that's a smaller muscle group, that's why that's our weakest position.

Applying Bicep Strength to the Pull-Up

So, how in the world do we then come back to pull ups and chin ups and make this all relative? Well, if I was to grip in neutral grip, what's that look like? That looks like our hammer curl position. And we said before that that's our strongest position because we get dual recruitment of both of those muscles, the brachialis and the brachii in the bicep. So, if we were just starting out on this movement it would make sense therefore to grip with a neutral position - a neutral grip position. Now, you can see on this rack we've got three different options. I would just personally grip, or suggest you grip, wherever lines up with your shoulders because that's going to give you the best activation within the lats. So, if you're wondering, "Do I grip close? Do I grip wide?", just line up however broad you are. So if you're a broader individual, you're going to grip wider. If you're narrower, you're going to grip closer. It's an easy way to keep it simple.

Moving to Supinated Grip

Now, once we've done that, once we've built up our strength in that neutral grip position, then we can progress. We can make the movement harder by supinating our hands. And the reason why that's harder is because we switch off a lot of the involvement in the brachialis, as we talked about before, and now we're primarily just focused on working this main head of the bicep. In this position, you'll find that the bicep gets much more activation and contraction when you perform a supinated grip when doing the chin up. The opposite would be true if we were to then pronate our grip and grip in an overhead position. Like what we talked about before, that's going to be much more relevant to this sort of curling position. And we talked about how that's the weakest position because it's primarily going to be activated and emphasized through the brachialis, which is a much smaller muscle group, it doesn't have as much capacity.

With the design on this rack, you can see that the handles invert on that wider grip position. Now that's good because it enables us to keep our wrist nice and straight when we do go wide. And what that will do is help us take off a bit of pressure in the wrist, but it'll also help us emphasize the lat muscles. So if we really wanted to use this exercise to target our lats, then it makes sense to grip nice and wide. It’s a bonus to have that slight inversion of the bar handle.

They're the three primary different positions that we can use. The underhand grip is going to be referenced as a chin up, whereas the overhand grip is going to be referenced as a pull up.

The Final Stage – The Chin-Up

So, there's three different positions as well as three different progressions that you can use. So again, starting with the neutral, progress to the underhand, then progress to the overhand. Now unless you had a specific goal to maybe target more of the lats, then we would obviously opt for the wider position. If you had a specific goal to target more of the biceps, it might make sense to grip in an underhand position. And if you wanted sort of a dual effect of them both, even effect of them both, you might grip in a neutral position because that's going to be our strongest position where we get equal recruitment for all of those muscles that we just talked about.

How to Get Started

Now you might be thinking, "I can't do any of these." "So, where does that leave me?" Well, that would leave you needing assistance and in this scenario, I would recommend getting yourself some resistance bands, which can easily be attached onto any rack and give you some help when you're performing either the chin up or the pull up. All we do is loop it around the bar, we loop it around our knee or our foot depending on how much assistance that we wanted to get, and that's actually going to help us through the movement.

The great thing about this movement specifically when it comes to resistance band, is that it's going to help us in the hardest portion of the move which is the bottom. As we go up, the band loosens and it requires us to lift all of our weight at the top. So, we get a really great contraction at the top where we're strongest and we get assistance where we need it which is at the bottom of the movement. So these work really well for this movement and they’re a really great tool to help you build your strength if you cannot yet currently do chin ups and pull ups without that assistance. That would definitely be one I would recommend. They're super cheap, super affordable, super easy to chuck in your gym bag. It's something that everyone should get.

Products to Get Started