Chin-Up Workshop: 5 Simple Exercises for Insane Upper Body Strength

We’re all about functional strength here at MME, and it’s no secret that being stacked upstairs looks damn good too. But when it comes to working out all those muscle groups to get the definition of your dreams, it can be tough to zone in on the right focus areas to get the results you’re after.

If you're looking to build a strong and toned upper body, chin-ups are the king of your gains. Not only do they target multiple muscle groups including the biceps, triceps, forearms, and shoulders, but they also increase grip strength and improve posture. In short, chin-ups should be a staple in your exercise routine if you want to look like an absolute weapon!

So, to help you build the strongest, most chiseled shoulders, back, lats and biceps of your life, we thought we’d get you off to the races with this free quick-start guide to getting chiseled with chin-ups.

Ready to unlock insane upper body strength? Let’s dive in with these 5 simple chin-up drills, plus some tips and tricks to get you ripped in record time:


Full disclosure here. Yes... Chin-ups are f*%#ing tough. But, your efforts will be well rewarded if you stick with 'em and mix them into your regular bodyweight and strength training routine.

Chin-ups are insanely effective for leveling up your upper body strength and muscle overall. They specifically target a bunch of muscle groups all at once, as follows:

  • Biceps
  • Lats
  • Rear deltoids
  • Infraspinatus

  • Middle to lower traps
  • Teres major (rotator cuff)
  • Erector spinae in the back
  • Pecs

  • Obliques
  • Rhomboids
  • Forearms
  • Abs


Chin-ups and pull-ups are very similar exercises that both target the upper body, particularly the back and arm muscles. The main difference between the two exercises is hand position.

In a chin-up, the palms face towards the lifter, while in a pull-up, the palms face away from the lifter.

This difference in hand position changes the emphasis of the workout and targets different muscle groups. Chin-ups primarily target the biceps and lats, while pull-ups target the lats, traps, and rhomboids. Both exercises are highly effective for building upper body strength, so we definitely recommend you incorporate both into your strength training routine.


Before we get into the specifics of building your chin-up training plan, let's talk about form.

Proper form is key to getting the most out of your chin-ups and preventing injury. Keep your shoulders down, engage your core, and don't swing your legs for momentum.

When performing any chin-up, start by hanging from a pull-up bar with a grip slightly wider than shoulder-width. Tighten up your core and pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar. Lower yourself back down with control.


Now that we've covered proper form, it's time to build your training plan. Here’s some tips to get the ball rolling:

🔥Launch From Your Current Fitness Level

Begin by assessing your current chin-up ability. If you can't perform a single chin-up yet, start with negative chin-ups by jumping to the top position and slowly lowering yourself down. Over time, you'll work your way up to the bar with repetition and perseverance. 


Have a specific, measurable goal in mind. For example, "I want to be able to perform 10 chin-ups in a row by the end of the month."

🔥create a schedule

 Incorporate chin-ups into your workout routine at least 2-3 times a week.

🔥Warm Up!

Always warm up before starting your chin-up routine to avoid injury and maximize results.

🔥Harness Progressive Overload

As you progress, increase the difficulty by adding weight, changing grip position, or decreasing rest time between sets.

🔥Mix it Up

Varying your grip and adding weight will help target different muscle groups and prevent boredom. In addition to chin-ups, include other exercises that target the biceps such as hammer curls, barbell curls, and cable curls to stack your arms even further.

🔥Stay Consistent

Consistency is key for seeing results. Although chin-ups can be a bit of a b!tc# at times, that means they're working. Stick to your schedule, power through the suck and stay motivated to see speedy gains.


Next, let’s deconstruct the different variations of chin-ups you can try on your journey to upper body supremacy:

1. Basic Chin-Up

The basic chin-up is the foundation for all other chin-up variations. Start by hanging from a chin-up bar with a palms-facing grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Pull your body up towards the bar until your chin is above it, then lower yourself back down with control. Start with 3 sets of 8-12 reps, adding more as you build strength. 

2. Assisted Chin-Up

If you're new to chin-ups, you may need some assistance to build up to unassisted reps. Use a resistance band or machine to help you get started, gradually reducing the assistance as you get stronger. Start with 3 sets of 8-12 reps.


For this variation, bring your hands closer together on the bar. The closer grip targets your biceps and triceps, giving you a well-rounded upper body workout. Start with 3 sets of 8-12 reps.


To focus on your lats, switch to a wider grip on the bar. Keep your shoulders down and engage your core as you pull yourself up towards the bar. Start with 3 sets of 8-12 reps.


Once you've mastered basic chin-ups, add weight to increase the intensity. Use a weight belt or hold a dumbbell between your feet as you pull yourself up. Start with 3 sets of 8-12 reps with a manageable weight, gradually increasing as you build strength.


Ready to get started incorporating chin-ups into your workouts? Here's an example training plan, assuming you can currently perform 3 chin-ups as a starting point.

By gradually working your way up from this base level, you’ll see rapid results over a 4-week stretch. Here's how to build up to a beastly chin-up practice:

Week 1

  • Monday: 3 sets of 3 chin-ups with 60 seconds rest between sets 
  • Wednesday: 3 sets of 3 chin-ups with 60 seconds rest between sets 
  • Friday: 3 sets of 3 chin-ups with 60 seconds rest between sets

Week 2

  • Monday: 3 sets of 3 chin-ups with 45 seconds rest between sets 
  • Wednesday: 3 sets of 4 chin-ups with 45 seconds rest between sets 
  • Friday: 3 sets of 5 chin-ups with 45 seconds rest between sets

Week 3

  • Monday: 3 sets of 5 chin-ups with 30 seconds rest between sets
  • Wednesday: 3 sets of 6 chin-ups with 30 seconds rest between sets
  • Friday: 3 sets of 7 chin-ups with 30 seconds rest between sets

Week 4

  • Monday: 3 sets of 8 chin-ups with 15 seconds rest between sets
  • Wednesday: 3 sets of 9 chin-ups with 15 seconds rest between sets
  • Friday: 3 sets of 10 chin-ups with 15 seconds rest between sets

As you progress, continue to increase the difficulty by adding weight, changing grip position, or decreasing rest time between sets. Remember to mix it up with other bicep exercises and stay consistent for best results.

Incorporating chin-ups into your exercise routine is an effective way to build upper body strength, tone your muscles, and improve overall fitness. Give these drills a try and take your upper body workout to the next level.

Don't forget, chin-ups are just one part of building your most ripped physique, optimal physical condition and insane overall strength. You’ll find everything you need to achieve greatness with resources like this and much, much more in our MME Collections below.

Check out our results-driven Gym Performance and Bodyweight Workout programs to get your entire body shredded in time for summer, or raid the vault with the Military Mental Endurance Warrior Bundle™, the ultimate resource for building a strong, unshakeable body and mind.

Welcome to your journey to insane upper body strength, warrior.

Greg | MME Fitness Consultant

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