Most bodybuilders will agree on the fact that wide grip chin ups are highly effective for building back thickness and width like no other movement. However, a large percentage of these bodybuilders will also have a laundry list of excuses why this exercise isn’t for them. Maybe they can’t “feel” the movement how they’d like. Maybe they believe they’re too heavy. Maybe they just don’t like to feel weak and exposed as they struggle with four reps while 155-pound runners in the gym are able to knock out triple the number of repetitions (or more!) in a single set. Whatever the case, bodybuilders wary of this movement will propagate a number of fallacies to help justify their avoidance of this exercise. It’s time to dispel these myths!
“Pulldowns do the same thing”
Many a lazy bodybuilder sporting a mediocre back has made this announcement, and it’s laughable every time! Pulldowns are an important movement that will deliver a lot of stimulation to the lats, they certainly belong in your training protocol. But there are a slew of stabilizer muscles and other support systems that come into play when you physically have to pull your entire body up, as compared to just pulling a bar down. And if you can only choose one, make it pull-ups.
“You gotta move through the reps quickly”
Many bodybuilders feel it is more effective to complete more reps with greater speed, than to do fewer reps at a more moderate speed. This is untrue. Yes, it may look more impressive to your training buddies to knock out ten straight repetitions of this very tough body weight movement. But what matters most are the changes you can make to your body. Using six repetitions of the much slower variety will result in your being able to recruit many more muscle fibers, leading to a lot more muscle growth and much less joint and tendon stretching.
“Big guys can do them!”
Just because you are 220 or 250 or even 280 pounds, doesn’t mean you cannot include wide grip chins in your back routine. Sure, you’re going to have to be a bit more careful, wearing a back brace and warming up more than your skinny brethren. But they are just as important for you at a bigger body weight. And you can do them. Vic Martinez, one of the world’s top bodybuilders who reaches a body weight of almost 300 pounds every off-season, still includes them in every back workout. If he is that much larger than you and can include them, don’t you think it’s time you added them?
“Don’t’ stretch back – it only leads to injury!”
It’s true that stretching too much will loosen up the muscle fibers in any muscle group to the point where you begin to lose some functional strength. However, if you can time it right, stretching the back can lead to some better width and feel than you’ve ever seen before! Wide grip chins can be made much more effective by hanging from the bar at the conclusion of the set, allowing ten to fifteen seconds to let the back pull as much as possible.
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