If there is one movement that almost all people neglect its pulling (Vertical/Horizontal) exercises. Whether it’s pulling exercises for the lower body or upper body, we need it due the adaptations made from poor gym methodologies and posture. The charts below, I took from an article written from Eric Cressey called “Shoulder Savers” which is a three-part series that all people should read, but it is to demonstrate the imbalances that gym-goers have due to their training. Here are the 3 basic pairs of movement patterns.
|Scapular Retraction||Scapular Protraction|
|All Rowing*||All Bench Pressing|
|Rear Delt Fly||All Flyes|
|Prone Trap Raise Variations***(you could count as scapular depression too)||Dips|
*Exclude Upright Rows….always.
|Scapular Depression||Scapular Elevation|
|Scapular Wall Slides||Shrugs|
|Prone Trap Raise Variations||Upright Rows|
|Behind-the-Neck Band Pulldowns||Cleans and Snatches|
|Prone Cobras to 10&2 (held for time)||Seated DB Cleans|
|Straight Arm Lat Pulldowns (strict!)/ (I’ll add chins up since this blog post is about that)*||Cuban Presses|
|Humeral External Rotation/Internal Rotation|
|Humeral External Rotation||Humeral Internal Rotation|
|All External Rotation Variations||Bench Pressing, Pushups|
|Seated DB Cleans||Pullups, Pulldowns|
|Cuban Presses||Front Raises|
|Rear Delt Flyes||Dips|
|Prone Trap Raises||Overhead Pressing|
|Prone Cobras (held for time)||All Internal Rotation Variations|
All the exercises on the left are often overlooked by most people, and if they have performed them it usually is nowhere near the same volume as the right column exercises. If you also notice, there is enough work here that you should not have a “shoulder day” for your workouts due overuse/injuries that usually happen to this joint.
Anyway, chin ups would fall under the scapular retraction/depression chart. The chin-up is almost never seen in commercial gyms because everyone is over by the lat pulldown machine. Why? Because they are easier. I understand that if you cannot do a proper chin-up that lat pulldowns are best, for now. If you want to get stronger, get bigger, or even burn some body fat then doing chin ups should be a staple in your program. Chin-ups are an amazing way to develop those qualities because of their involvement in forearm, biceps, lats, traps, & shoulders. Here’s a video by Mike Robertson on proper chin up technique.
Chin ups or Pull ups?
The answer…it depends. Mike Reinold had a great blog post about the differences between the two. The main points were
- Chin-ups are probably better for aesthetic reasons since it involves higher EMG activity in the lats, biceps, and pectoralis major.
- For poor posture and shoulder function, the pull-up may be better due to lower pec major activity and increased lower trap activity. Both common goals when dealing with Janda’s Upper Crossed Syndrome.
- Lower Trapezius importance: Due to the overactivity of the upper traps and poor thoracic spine extensibility we have weak/inhibited lower traps = scapular instability.
Who says girls cannot do chin-ups? These are band-resisted which is a great way to start if you cannot do full chin ups with good form.
Insane strength with perfect form by Ben Bruno