If you want to build big biceps then you need to stop only focusing on doing curls. In this video, I’m going to show you how to build bigger biceps by turning your body into the resistance and performing a variation on the popular chin up exercise to turn up the heat on your arms and get those gains coming again.
One of the absolute favorite exercises in the gym is the weighted chin up. I believe it is one of the best exercises for packing size on the biceps while additionally being one of the best and most challenging pulling exercises at your disposal. That said, there are a few things you can do to the standard chin up that will turn it into more of a biceps driven exercise than a lat driven one which will help you to see much faster gains on your biceps in the near future.
The first thing you want to focus on is your grip. Obviously, with this being a chin up and not a pull up you want to grab the bar with an underhand grip. That said, the most important thing you can do at this point is establish the proper width of the hands. Anatomically, we want to try and match the angle of the elbow and hands that is preferred when the arm is placed into full elbow flexion (like we would be at the top of a curl). This means that the hands are to be placed slightly outside the width of the elbows.
Since you cannot move your hands during the curl as you could if you were doing this with a pair of dumbbells, it is important that you establish this first before even doing a single rep. You will know if you are doing this right since you will feel a more intense contraction of the biceps when you get to the top of the chinup than you would if you didn’t set up the right grip first.
Next, you want to bend the wrist back slightly and be sure to grip the bar deep in the palm of your hands. This modification helps to take the forearms out of the exercise so that the biceps can do more of the work. The key is to keep the bar deep in your hands however so as not to overload the middle deep finger flexors, which can lead to medial elbow pain quickly if you forget to do this.
Now, as you lower and raise your body to the bar there are two things you want to be sure you do. The first is, you want to maintain an open angle of the elbow at the top. Too often, people confuse the cue to “get the chin over the bar” as something that you need to do while bringing your body close to the bar and your chin to the other side. This is incorrect. You only want to get your chin higher than the bar but you need to maintain distance away from it so as to keep tension on the biceps in that more closely approximated 90 to 120 angle of the elbow.
Second, in order to do this you will find that you will likely have to arc your body as you bring it up on each rep. This should mirror what that barbell does when you curl it up on a standard barbell curl. Obviously, the bar does not travel in a straight line up and down on every rep. Instead, it follows a definitive arcing pattern. You once again cannot move the pullup bar, but you can relatively move your body in relation to the bar to mimic the same mechanics at the joint and take advantage of the varied strength curves throughout the exercise.
This exercise will build your biceps faster than any other because it is progressively loading you in a way you are likely not used to at the moment. Though the lats do contribute to the performance of this exercise, you will be forced to handle fairly heavy loads since you will have to lift your own bodyweight. The percentage of work done by the biceps will often be higher than it would be if you were to try and apply the load through a standard barbell curl.
Give this a shot and if you are looking for a complete program that will help you to not only build big biceps but get a complete athletic body capable of performing at a moment’s notice, be sure to hit the link below and grab one of the ATHLEAN-X Training Systems.
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What’s up, guys?
Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.com.
Today I’m going to tell you how to get your
biceps to start growing a lot faster.
It doesn’t necessarily involve a lot of
I know you guys know I’m a fan of heavy
barbell curls and utilizing a cheat curl to
overload the eccentric, but we know that’s
only one mechanism of creating overload.
We know that there are a lot of other ways
to do that.
What I’m going to tell you here is, you’re
going to want to trade in that bar for this
bar if you’re looking for faster gains.
I’m going to tell you the reason for that,
because there is a very distinct reason for
that, but it’s going to require that you
don’t just do a chin-up because there are
some issues with a chin-up – my favorite
exercise – when it comes to bicep development.
There’s a way to change the chin-up if you
want to enhance or speed up that bicep development
and it requires a few modifications.
So, here’s what we do.
The first thing is, obviously, with a chin-up
we’re going with an underhand grip.
But we need to look at how wide that grip
needs to be and, more importantly, how wide
the grip is in relation to the elbows.
Anatomically we have something called the
‘carrying angle of the elbow’.
The carrying angle is in place to allow us
to carry something at our sides and not interfere
with the locomotion of the legs.
So, we know that the angle, if you look at
the upper arm, comes down and veers a little
bit to the outside.
So, if we have something in our hands it wouldn’t
hit the legs, as I’ve said.
Well, when we curl our arm up when we train
our biceps and bring our elbow into flexion
here, the same thing happens here.
The arm doesn’t go straight up, or even
It goes a little bit to the outside of the
So, what we want to do is be able to mimic
that so we can maximally target the biceps.
So, when we get to the bar and take an underhand
grip, we want to make sure the elbows are
more inward in relation to the hands.
Hands outside the elbows.
We can’t manipulate this.
Once we grab a bar it’s fixed.
We can’t change that.
If we had a dumbbell, we could change a dumbbell
in space as we curl it, but here we can’t.
So, we have to set it up that way.
The next thing we want to do is, we’ve talked
about this tip before, of involving the biceps
more by deactivating the forearms.
We can do that by bending back the wrists
a little bit.
Now, be careful when you do this.
You want to make sure you’re not just gripping
the outer fingers because that could lead
to some medial elbow pain that we’ve talked
So, you want to grip the bar, you just rotate
Just like this.
Grip it in the palm, grip it in the palm,
rotate backward, your hands are outside your
Now as you start to curl, this is where all
the difference is made.
When I curl up to the top here you don’t
want to collapse yourself down.
People talk about getting the chin over the
bar, but what that’s really referencing
is your chin higher than the bar.
Not necessarily over the bar this was because
when you close down that angle you take a
lot of the stress off the bicep and that’s
something that’s going to take away from
the effectiveness of what we’re trying to
We know if I took a dumbbell and curled it
all the way to the top, all the way to where
it was touching my shoulder here, I could
stay here for a hell of a lot longer than
I could if I backed it off 10 or 20 degrees,
kept more of an angle here.
And therefore, more stress from the force
of gravity downward onto that dumbbell, onto
my biceps, which is what we’re trying to
So why do we do the same thing here?
We want to keep that angle open.
So, as we come up to the top, we keep the
That distance is key.
That distance makes a huge difference in what
we’re going to get from this exercise.
So not closing down but keeping that distance.
The fourth thing I do is start to lean my
body back a little bit because the motion
is not even straight up and down, but it’s
Up, and towards it.
Lean back a little bit, come up, and toward
it, never closing that angle down anymore
But you’re basically curling your body.
If had a curl bar down here I’d be going
in an arc.
If I’m taking my body here with my fixed
hands, I have to arc my body.
So, it looks like this.
I’m down, in here, up, I come a little bit
Down and away, up and closer.
Sown and away, up and closer.
Just like that.
You can see it’s putting a number on those
Now why does this work so well?
We talked about an alternative mechanism to
We talked about eccentric muscle damage being
one of those options, but we also talked about
You’ll be shocked at how much this will
overload your biceps in a novel, and unique
way because if you’re used to just curling
dumbbells or curling a barbell, you’re likely
not even getting as much stress on your biceps
as this is going to do.
If you weight 180lbs, some of it’s going
to be unweighted by your lats.
We know that, but a great deal of it is going
to be born by the biceps, especially after
you make these modifications.
That might equate to 120lb load and you’re
used to curling 100lbs on a curl but are unable
to curl a 120lb weight.
It’s the ability to manipulate your bodyweight
in space here that allows you to work with
those strength curves and how they adjust
along the path of this exercise that will
allow you to start performing this with a
And therefore start to see results you haven’t
seen from doing the other exercises that don’t
The final point I’ll make on this is, as
a progressively overloaded exercise, what
you would do is add weight when able.
If you can do 10 or 12 or 14 of these without
a challenge, it’s time to start adding more
You guys know I’m a big fan of this, even
working up to 3 plates on a weighted chin.
The fact of the matter is, you need to make
sure you’re always challenging yourself.
But when you make these modifications, I promise
you, you’re going to see faster gains in
your biceps than you ever have before.
If you’ve found this video helpful leave
your comments and thumbs up below.
Let me know what else you want me to cover
and I’ll do my best to do that for you.
If you’re looking for step by step plans
that, at times, we incorporate bodyweight
as a resistance option because we know it’s
the best option for what we’re trying to
We work them all in with all our barbell and
dumbbell exercises as well.
They’re all over at ATHLEANX.com.
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please subscribe and turn on your notifications
so you never miss a video when we put one
All right, guys.
Talk to you again soon.