Archive for the tag - chin-up

The Most Effective Bicep and Chest Exercises.

Dear Davey,

I want to get my chest/pecs to pop out more. Any suggestions on what exercises that may help with that? I work both my chest and biceps vigorously to get them bigger, but nothing seems to work. Can you help me out?


Dear Keith,

This is actually a really common question – and it’s one that I get a lot.

Interestingly, the two most effective exercises for biceps and chest are barbell bicep curls and the bench press, respectively. While both of these exercises are definitely old school, they are tried, tested, true – and effective.

A barbell bicep curl, pictured to the right, is pretty straightforward. Simply load a barbell with weight plates. Stand in an upright position with an underhand grip. Contract your biceps to pull the barbell up toward your shoulders. Pause, lower and then repeat.

The bench press is also pretty simple – though it’s always a good idea to work with a spotter. Load the bench’s barbell with weight plates. Lie on the bench and hold the bar just beyond shoulder width apart. Lift the barbell off of the rack, and lower until it touches your chest lightly. Then, press the barbell away from the chest until arms are extended. Pause, then repeat.

Since you’re going for size, it’s important to use the right amount of weight. Use enough resistance so that you’re only able to do between 6 and 10 repetitions of each exercise before your muscles are fully fatigued. If you can do more than 10 repetitions, the weight it too light. Moreover, keep pushing yourself to heavier and heavier levels of resistance; your muscles won’t grow unless they are forced to do so.

If you don’t have access to a gym or equipment, push-ups are a great bench press alternative. To make push-ups more challenging, try some of my push-up variations. Or strap on a backpack loaded with extra weight. This will help force your muscles to grow.

The best at-home bicep exercise is a chin-up. You could buy a chin-up bar at a local exercise supply store. Most can be installed quickly in a doorway in your home. Or, you can take your workout outside – and perform chin-ups on playground equipment. To make it harder, you can even make use of ankle weights.

Hope that helps!


The Chin-ups Vs. Pull-ups Showdown!

Chin-ups and pull-ups are great arm exercises – but do you know the difference?

Chin-ups are performed with your palms facing toward you; the grip is reversed for pull-ups. Chin-ups, which primarily work the bicep, are much easier to perform. Pull-ups are a great forearm exercise, and are generally more difficult. Both exercises build muscles aggressively and aid in grip strength – which is advantageous in any sport that involves grappling and pulling (think rock climbing.)

With either exercise, you’ll need to first grip the bar while hanging. Then, pull your chin up above the bar, hold, and then release back to the starting position. Sound easy? It’s not! If you’re just starting out – you may only be able to perform one or two. If chin-ups or pull-ups are too challenging, try using an assisted pull-up machine which can be found in most commercial gyms.

Here are my best tips for effective chin-ups and pull-ups:

  1. Extend fully. When performing either chin-ups or pull-ups, it’s important that you fully extend your arms in between reps. Otherwise, you’re cutting yourself short.
  2. Ensure that your chin is above the bar. Most people have a tendency to release the movement before the chin is lifted fully above the bar. Complete the movement in its entirety to get the best benefit!
  3. Lead with your chest. Keep your shoulders back to avoid injury.
  4. Bend your legs. In order to extend fully, you’ll probably need to bend your legs – otherwise, you’ll likely touch the ground in between sets.

Do you incorporate chin-ups and pull-ups into your workout? If so – let me know in the comments!