Top 10 Body Weight Exercises No. 7 – Chin-up


At Pete Fraser Fitness we like to challenge our fitter clients with more advanced body weight movements like the chin-up. These are an excellent way to build up a strong back, shoulder and arm musculature. They also require and further develop the interaction of a strong core. To perform the movement effectively requires a favourable power-to-weight ratio.

Read more on how to do it….

Our ancestors relied heavily on the important back musculature and shoulder stabilizers to hang and move in the trees. Today these strong muscles are commonly underdeveloped so movements like chin-ups replicate this type of basic primeval position.

Which muscles does the chin-up work?

Primary muscles worked: latissimus dorsi,

Secondary muscles worked: lower fibres of trapezius, biceps brachii

Benefits: Develops a strong upper torso, especially the back musculature. Improves coordination of upper torso and pelvic structures.

What does it do for you and your sport?

Good for: Any sporting movement involving throwing, i.e. field sports, javelin, discus or bowling.

How to do it:

Ideally you’ll have the use of a specific chin-up bar with both close and wide grip positions. This is not essential as alternatives can be used, for example: a scaffold pole, tree branch, landing or other high raised surface.

  • Jump or lift up into a hanging position
  • Take a close grip (palms facing) if available or wide (palms forward) if not
  • Start at full arms-length, legs extended and feet crossed if you like
  • Engage the core and maintain throughout the lift
  • Keeping the legs extended pull through the back, shoulders and arms to lift the body into a position where the chin is level with the hands
  • Slowly lower back down to full arms-length counting 3 – 4 secs and repeat for as many good form reps as possible


  • Close-grip
  • Wide-grip

Other upper body weight movements in the series: The hand stand press-up