Chinups: Best Bodyweight Biceps Exercise (3 STEPS!!)

Build big biceps without a single piece of equipment

While the pullup is the undisputed king of bodyweight pulling exercises, the chinup is the king of the best bodyweight biceps exercises. How can that be you ask? With more than just a slight change to the position of your hands during the exercise you can make sure that you get a killer bodyweight biceps workout by including the chinup in your exercise selection.

Exercise demonstration here

The fact that many people already know to include the chinup in their bodyweight pulling workouts isn’t enough. You need to focus on the three tips I show you in this video to be sure you get more biceps activation out of the exercise each time you do it.

First, you need to focus on how you grip the bar during a chinup. Simply gripping with equal pressure and then pulling yourself up on the bar is not recommended. If you want to increase the activation of the biceps you want to focus the squeeze in the fourth and fifth fingers. Even better, you want to release the bar with your thumbs to ensure that the grip power comes more from the other end of your hand. This grip tweak allows for a resisted or isometric supination component to the exercise. One of the major inclusions in a biceps contraction is either supination or the act of resisted supination.

Next, you want to be careful not to flex your elbows fully. You not only take tension away from the biceps by basically resting on your joints during a fully flexed chinup but you weaken the amount of tension that can be generated by the biceps due to something called active insufficiency. This happens when you contract a muscle that crosses more than one joint. In the case of the biceps it is a muscle that crosses three joints.

If you maximally flex your elbow you will decrease the amount of tension that can be developed during the third component of biceps contraction and that is shoulder flexion. With the biceps crossing the shoulder joint you have to include a contribution of raising your shoulder in front of your body if you want to experience peak contraction.

That said, back to the point on active insufficiency, you want to be sure to back off the flexion at the elbow just a little bit if you want to keep the strength of the contraction on the biceps. A strong contraction of the biceps in your workouts will help you to create more overload and ultimately grow bigger arms.

For a complete bodyweight biceps exercise plan as well as workouts to build your entire body without weights, be sure to head to and get the ATHLEAN XERO program. This complete program requires no equipment at all and helps you build muscle in just 6 weeks.

For more body weight workout videos and bodyweight bicep exercises you can do at home, be sure to subscribe to our channel here on youtube at

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50 comments
  1. aminthezone / May 13, 2016

    If you replied that would make my day.

  2. S ylvio / May 13, 2016

    I’ve been keeping my CHINUP in hopes of a Q&A video for ages now.

  3. Redi Dibrani / May 13, 2016

    Jeff, good explanation but HORRIBLE DEMONSTRATION! is it so hard to
    actually do one and show us exactly how this would be done with your head
    tucked under??? I’m lost

    • nosferotica / May 13, 2016

      +SubnetMaskedMan

      Sure, if you are a mere force of nature and have no will of your own.

    • SubnetMaskedMan / May 14, 2016

      +nosferotica lol that’s actually a good reply lmao….

    • SubnetMaskedMan / May 14, 2016

      +paradox95 correct! I was merely commenting on his tone.

  4. Eddie Bingham / May 13, 2016

    Thanks for the tips! Could you please do a video showing you doing chin-ups
    with all of these tips applied, Jeff? It’d be good to have a more clear
    visual example.

    • BadAssBlackOverlord / May 13, 2016

      +ATHLEAN-X™ Ok at least you apologized. I will personally forgive you on
      behalf of everyone for this fatal mistake. Don’t repeat such in the future.

    • Johnny Yette / May 13, 2016

      +ATHLEAN-X™ Wheres Jeff’s Marker lol

    • The Health of the Matter / May 13, 2016

      +BadAssBlackOverlord Smile when you write this…never know! 😀

    • Enzo Feraren / May 13, 2016

      +BadAssBlackOverlord tf?

    • paradox95 / May 14, 2016

      +Enzo Feraren sshhh (he is the badassblackoverlord you dont want his wrath
      coming onto you mate…) I hope he didn’t read your reply…

  5. TheJfather1 / May 13, 2016

    I dont understand what the chinup is supposed to look like with your third
    point???????

  6. Brett Wade / May 13, 2016

    Jeff!!!! You know you messed up not demonstrating the motion.

    • ATHLEAN-X™ / May 13, 2016

      +Brett Wade Oh f*ck! My bad. Sorry for the oversight. Posted a link for you
      in the comments here. Should help you out.

    • Brett Wade / May 13, 2016

      +ATHLEAN-X™ much appreciated !!??

    • bisepbisen / May 13, 2016

      +ATHLEAN-X™ Thanks coach, much appreciated! P.S. about to start your new RX
      bundle, super pumped to see and FEEL the difference!

    • Leon Kennedy / May 13, 2016

      +ATHLEAN-X™ Lmao GG

  7. Maximum Bahls / May 13, 2016

    Jeff I fell like I need to see it in action to be able to do it I’m really
    confused but I’ll figure it out unless you’re planning on making a video
    for it? Thanks.

  8. Wayne Williams / May 13, 2016

    i recently had surgery to repair torn bicep in my right arm

  9. ATHLEAN-X™ / May 13, 2016

    For those wanting the “not so close” up demo…here you go!
    https://vimeo.com/spf2012/review/166458318/eb1e192e6c

    Warning: It’s a crusher, but it will obliterate those biceps better than
    any chinup you’ve ever done.

    • Brian Kelly / June 1, 2016

      For pull-ups, the primary target is still the latissimus doors muscle.
      However, the forearms are used more then the biceps.

      Pull-ups also use the trapezius along the spine and shoulder, and the
      muscle along the side of the neck. Both the pull-up and chin-up are great
      for broadening the back.

    • Riwillion / June 1, 2016

      +Brian Kelly So during chin-ups, the lats are the primary muscle being
      worked? O.o But I never really feel them much when doing chin-ups, while I
      very much feel my biceps.

    • Brian Kelly / June 1, 2016

      Yes, the lats are the ones being worked the most. You should be noticing
      your lats growing. If not I don’t know what to tell you. You can’t ask for
      a better exercise for a broader back.

    • J Smith / June 1, 2016

      +Riwillion Do a lot of slow negative chinups or pullups and you should feel
      the burn and soreness in your lats.

    • Ivan Culbreth / July 4, 2016

      ɷɷɷ Heeeey Frienddsssss I Have F0unddd Greattt Guideee On Weight Lose Visit
      : – https://twitter.com/LilleyPearl/status/749197900626800640

  10. TheZarbis / May 13, 2016

    Category Howto & Style
    Can’t even complain…

    • Thushar Sushil / May 13, 2016

      +TheZarbis Dafuq right?

    • MercilessHobo / May 13, 2016

      Well he is telling us how to get the best results.

  11. Mario Tomic / May 13, 2016

    Thanks for Vimeo demo Jeff, you’re a man of your word!

  12. winter ramos / May 13, 2016

    jeff is the Carl Sagan of Fitness

  13. Nicola / May 13, 2016

    FOR ALL THOSE ASKING ABOUT A DEMONSTRATION

    check description

  14. jaher miah / May 14, 2016

    bicep dance around 1:40

  15. Ross Wilson / May 15, 2016

    jeffs muscles are so big due to containing so much knowledge

  16. Noah Manji / May 15, 2016

    I NEEDED THIS VIDEO THANKS MAN

  17. simplex6180 / May 22, 2016

    So I’m arguing with my step dad over whether or not it’s ok to do the
    “behind the head” move on pull-ups. He says that it’s just like doing lat
    pull downs behind the head, but I beg to differ. Could you explain the
    difference? Thanks a lot

  18. Unknown Truth / May 23, 2016

    He is a genius! Thanks for a great video …. again! :)

  19. Jonathon D. Martinez / July 23, 2016

    I’m kind of confused so to get better bicep activation do I use a thumbless
    grip and pull from my last 2 fingers?

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