Master the supinated chin up

While not easy, chin ups are one of the best strength exercises you can do. Ben Young  runs through the dos and don’ts.

Without a doubt, chin ups are one of the single best feats of strength. If you can complete five strict chin ups (with the chin above the bar), you can unlock new movement levels and even venture into the world of ring work.


  • To do a proper chin up your scapulae (shoulder blades) must retract and depress before your elbows bend, and continue the line of pull through to the top.
  • Being able to perform an active hang with your elbows locked and scapulae completely depressed is key to avoiding shoulder and elbow issues further down the track.
  • You need significant straight arm strength to perform chin ups properly. Include specific training for this in your workouts.
  • Capitalise on using the eccentric (lowering) and isometric (pause) elements of a chin up to increase strength. During the eccentric phase of any lift you can actually be twice as strong than your concentric (pushing or pulling) phase.
  • Eccentrics allow us to get stronger while maintaining proper lift form. This includes keeping your shoulders depressed and retracted with your toes pointed in, and not allowing your feet to arch behind you


  • Don’t use open chain movements like pull downs and cable exercises to build chin up strength as they don’t help. The chin up is a closed chain exercise and is trained with similar movements.

Ben Young runs coaching company “Be More Human”, improving his client’s health and mobility deficits and boosting their strength. He works in several Fitness First locations in
Sydney and provides an online coaching platform with personalised programs and training. He can be contacted at and on Instagram @benjaminjyoung.