Why I Choose Weighted Chin Ups For Superior Strength And Size!

Weighted chin ups build the lats, biceps and abs better than the isolation exercises dedicated to these muscles.

If you’re looking to build a strong and athletic physique then weighted chin ups are non-negotiable.

But weighted chin ups can do much more than that!

Heavy weighted chins build strength that carries over into the real world!

I have personally used weighted chin ups as the only major exercise to build my back, biceps and abs for years!

If you can increase your weighted chin up to the standards mentioned below, you will build a cobra back, python arms and rock hard abs in the process!

In this article we’ll discuss why weighted chin ups are better than:

  1. Bicep curls
  2. Pull ups
  3. Ab wheel rollouts and Weighted crunches
  4. Lat pull downs

And also:

  1. Why you should be doing weighted chin ups
  2. How to do your first weighted chin up
  3. How to progress with chin ups
  4. Weighted chin up standards – How heavy should you be chinning

By the end of this article, you will know the exact path I have taken to build real world chinning strength!

Let’s begin!

Why [YOU] Should Be Doing Weighted Chin Ups

Weighted chin ups are known as deadlifts for the upper body!

Just like deadlifts weighted chins:

  1. Work the majority of the muscles of the upper body.
  2. Build and require incredible grip strength.
  3. Moves the entire body through space, while moving an external load along with it.
  4. Carry over well to everyday life

Deadlifts require you to lift heavy things off the floor.

While we might not be lifting or moving heavy objects off the floor on a daily basis, heavy deadlifts prepare you for these events.

The same applies to weighted chin ups.

While you might not have to climb and scale walls, gates, rocks or hills, weighted chin ups build the muscles required to scale these vertical obstacles.

Both weighted chin ups and deadlifts make you a more capable human being.

Whats more is that the strength built during weighted chin ups will carry over to your deadlifts and vice versa. This is because, deadlifts and weighted chins both build incredible grip strength.

Another reason why you should be doing weighted chins is because doing them saves a lot of time!

Weighted chins activate the lats, biceps forearms and abs much better than the isolation exercises dedicated to these muscles.

Imagine how long it would take to do a couple of sets of biceps curls, lat pull downs and weighted crunches as opposed to one set of weighted chin ups.

IF you’re like me and want to get in and out of the gym as fast as possible while getting an extremely effective workout, weighted chin ups are the exercise for you!

That said, let’s compare weighted chins to:

  1. Bicep curls
  2. Weighted pull ups
  3. Ab wheel rollouts
  4. Lat pull downs

Weighted Chin Ups Vs Bicep Curls

Weighted chin ups are better than bicep curls because they allow you to place more stress on the biceps.

The main driver of muscle growth is progressive overload – placing more and more stress on the muscle over time.

The simplest way to induce progressive overload is to increase the load on the muscle.

Weighted chin ups allow you to place more load on the biceps because you can use more weight during the exercise.

This means bigger and stronger biceps in the long run!

Personal EMG experiments have shown that the bicep muscle activation is far greater on the weighted chin up when compared to bicep curls.

Weighted chins are also a more functional exercise with real world carryover.

They also build your back and abs at the same time.

Weighted chin ups will do more for you in less time than bicep curls ever will!

Weighted Chin Ups Vs Pull Ups

Weighted chin ups are far better than weighted pull ups because they:

  1. Allow you to carry more weight than weighted pull ups
  2. Take the muscles through a longer range of motion than weighted pull ups
  3. Involve more muscle mass than weighted pull ups

How does this matter?

Using more weight during an exercise places more stress on the muscles. Recovering from this stress makes the working muscles bigger and stronger!

Since weighted chins are easier than weighted pull ups, they allow you carry more weight during the movement thus making you bigger and stronger.

Weighted chins also take the muscles through a longer range of motion, this allows more muscle fiber recruitment.

More muscle fiber recruitment results in a bigger and stronger muscle.

Weighted chins also recruit more muscle mass in the movement.

Take for example the biceps. Facing your palms toward you during chin ups, recruits more of the biceps than having your palms face away from you (during pull ups).

Everyone and their mom wants to build their biceps! So why not use a slight change in the wrist position during chin ups and work your biceps into the movement as well.

Weighted chins save you a lot of time by building the biceps along with other muscles and real world strength!

Weighted chins are a huge time saver and thus better than pull ups.

Although, the pull up is no slouch either, it only loses by a small margin to weighted chins.

When it comes to just using your bodyweight, the story is different.

Since bodyweight chin ups are easier than pull ups, once you exhaust your gains on chin ups, progressing will mean moving over to pull ups, or chasing the one arm chin up instead!

Read More: How To Get Your From ZERO To One Arm Pull Up HERO

Chin Ups Vs Ab Wheel Rollouts

Personal EMG studies which measured the the activation of the ab muscles during the chin ups showed that chin ups are one of the best ab exercises out there.

In this personal EMG study, chin ups activated the rectus abdominus muscles more than:

  1. Planks
  2. Ab wheel rollouts
  3. Hanging leg raises and even
  4. Dragon flags!

Weighted chin ups are the ultimate anti-extension exercise.

This means that as you pull yourself up to the bar, you are fighting gravity from pulling your legs behind you.

Doing so activates the rectus abdominus muscles more than other anti-extension exercises.

In fact, during chin ups a lot of people unconsciously lift their knees up to their chest.

This activates the abs a lot more, almost like doing leg raises while doing chin ups!

But you don’t have to do your chin ups this way to get the benefits of intense ab activation!

Weighted Chin Ups Vs Lat Pull Downs

Lat pull downs are an excellent exercise to build your back and biceps when you cannot do chin ups.

But lat pull downs are an inferior exercise.

This is because chin ups activate the biceps, lats and abs more than the lat pull down.

This is saying a lot considering the lat pulldown is known for its lat building capability.

Chin ups force you to overcome gravity as you pull your body through space making them more athletic than lat pull downs.

Plus, chin ups can pretty much be done anywhere as long as you have a place to hang from. Lat pull downs on the other hand requires access to special equipment.

Which brings me to my next point about using chin ups as an exercise.

The [BEST] Piece Of Equipment For Doing Chin Ups

Many people prefer to do their weighted chins on a sturdy bar and that makes a lot of sense.

A sturdy bar doesn’t have the instability that gymnastics rings bring to the table, but pull ups bars are fixed. You cannot lug them around with you.

Doorway pull ups bars are okay, but I wouldn’t be using a lot of weight on them in the long run.

I believe the best piece of equipment for weighted chin ups is the gymnastics ring. I personally do my chin ups on gymnastics rings.

The great things about rings is that they allow you to rotate your wrists to a position that makes chinning comfortable for you.

This is especially true for those with injuries. The ability of the rings to move to a position that doesn’t cause pain is a huge plus.

Rings can also be taken anywhere, if you can find a tree, you can hang your rings on it and get a good workout in.

Rings can also be used for exercises other than chin ups.

The other piece of essential equipment for weighted chin ups (apart from the weight) is a dipping belt.

Dipping belts come in many shapes and form, but you want to get one that is:

  1. Comfortable
  2. Has a long and sturdy chain

Having a comfortable dipping belt means that it won’t be digging into your sides when performing weighted chins, dips or push ups for that matter.

You also want a long enough chain if your planning to go heavy with your weighted chins. And obviously the chain should be rated to carry enough weight.

How To Progress With Weighted Chin Ups

Making progress with weighted chin ups is as simple as adding weight.

Jokes apart, if cannot do weighted chin ups yet:

  1. Try getting to 3 sets of 6-7 reps of bodyweight chin ups
  2. Once you reach this stage, just add 2-5 pounds (0.5-1 kilo) at a time
  3. Keep adding weight as long as you can
  4. The moment you get stuck at a particular weight, add reps via an additional set
  5. If you still get stuck after all these adjustments, reset your weight by 10-15% and build back up. You will find that you got way stronger on the way back up.
  6. When building back up, make your last set an AMRAP set – as many reps as possible. This way you can increase your volume while building back up.

Follow this process repeatedly and you will be banging out heavy chin ups in no time!

Weighted Chin Up Standards – How Heavy Should You Be Chinning?

Numbers tell you where you are and where you need to go.

The first standard to aim for is to get your first weighted chin up.

From there your next goal is to get to 0.25 times your bodyweight.

If you achieve this goal for 5 repetitions, you should have a decent back and noticeable biceps.

Getting a 0.5 times bodyweight weighted chin up will put you on the map.

You will look wide from the front and the back and your biceps will be huge.

The next stage is to try and get a 0.8 times bodyweight chin up.

You would have reached the elite level, with what you came to accomplish – cobra lats, python arms and rock solid abs.

Bodyweight plays a huge factor here. But everyone can achieve a 0.25 times bodyweight chin up for 5 reps. So go hard and keep getting stronger!


Weighted chin ups are your best friend whether you’re a calisthenics athlete or not!

Weighted chins are better than:

  1. Bicep curls for the biceps
  2. Lat pull downs for the lats
  3. Ab wheel rollouts and dragon flags for the abs

Heavy chins build incredible real world strength thus making them a non-negotiable exercise.

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