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Chin Ups Spell Results!

By Philip Nation, nationtraining.com

Its summer time again and as sure as gym members hop on their hampster wheel of hope (the treadmill) and try to lose some bodyfat, the squat racks at local gyms are going to be filled with guys doing barbell curls in a futile effort for bigger arms. I’m sure that the "treamill toners" mean well, and I can rationalize that its better than doing nothing at all, so I’ll let it slide. However, doing curls in the squat rack trying to add some muscle to your biceps simply will not be given the same forgiveness in my book. The old adage “curls for the girls” is outdated at best and a blatant lie at worst.

However, don’t get too angry, it’s still possible to build up some impressive guns worthy of any fitness center vixens hands to be wrapped around; you just need to use a different approach. Here is the skinny on why guys with 12 inch arms should ditch the curls so they can finally get some girls.

As an example I will use the typical trainee that does barbell curls with 90 pounds. Let’s say this 160 lbs trainee can curl 90 pounds for 5 reps. With a simple modification I can get him to move almost 160lbs for 5 reps. How would I do this?

I would simply have him drop the curl bar and grab a chin-up bar!

By simply replacing his barbell curls with close grip (hands 6in apart) chin-ups I have almost doubled the amount of load that his biceps are exposed to. I have turned an exercise that is predominantly an isolation exercise into a compound exercise, and I have laid the groundwork for more poundage to be lifted if he is still stubborn enough to go back to curls when he finishes his 6 week chin-up plan. Listed below are the main factors in my selection for chin-ups over curls.

1) Load

The main limiting factor in muscular development is load (the amount of weight lifted). If you are serious about making your muscles get bigger you need to subject them to heavy weights, and keep increasing that weight. The more weight you lift the more muscles you recruit (size principle) and by recruiting more muscles you can lift heavier weights. Chin-ups allow you to lift more weight than curls thus making your upper body move more weight, this equals bigger muscles!

2) Kinetic Chain

Unless you are a genetic freak the human body grows in chains and not in isolation. It is very hard in fact to “isolate” a muscle. Truth be told when you do a bicep curl the first muscle that activates is not your wrist flexors but your calf muscles in your lower leg!

Chin-ups hammer your grip, forearms, upper arms, shoulder girdle, abs, lower back, glutes, and pretty much every muscle in your upper body and curls simply do not. Your body responds much better to exercises that work more muscles, especially exercises that humans were born to do such as chin-ups.

3) Entire Upper Body Development

Entire upper body development is essential if you even want to do curls with heavy weights, this is why you don’t see 150 pound kids curling massive weights as their upper body cannot even support the load. Chin-ups can develop the shoulder girdle and along with other upper back exercises such as deadlifts the trainee will eventually build enough meat on his upper body to even hold heavy poundage’s on the barbell curl.

There you have it, I suggest you ditch the bicep curls and grab a chin-up bar, and when you can do 5 reps start adding weight to your chin-ups, not reps. Shoot me an email and let me know how this works out!

Stay strong and do some chin-ups!


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