Sternum Plank Chin-ups

Posted on by Ben Bruno

Today I want to share with you what just might be my favorite chin-up variation: Sternum Plank Chins.

Truth be told, I could make an argument for a lot of different variations my favorite. As long as I’m chinning, I’m happy.

But this one is sweet.

Before I get into why I like it, I’ll show you what I’m talking about. Basically, it’s a chin-up where you keep your body completely straight but lean back as you pull yourself up. Like so.

I really like sternum chins. Why? There are a lot of reasons, but the biggest is that they absolutely smoke your back and lats. I first started doing them after reading some stuff from Vince Gironda. Gironda chins—as they are aptly called by some—look like this.

While this is an awesome exercise, there are a few potential problems with it.

1) The excessive backwards bending may cause back and/or neck pain in some folks. I’ve actually never had a problem, but I could see how they could problematic.

2) They’re simply too hard for most people. I haven’t seen many people that can actually do them correctly and under control. So while they may be a great exercise, you won’t get very hard if you can’t do it.

The sternum plank chins are a little more user-friendly. For one, it’s safer because you aren’t asking your body to bend backwards excessively. Plus, they’re easier, so more people will be able to do them.

They aren’t easy by any means and should definitely be considered an advanced variation, but once you can comfortably do 10+ regular chins these should be well within your reach.

As an added bonus, it’s also a great exercise for the core and glutes. Actually, if you want to talk core exercises, this would be pretty high up on my list. When done properly, you’ll feel your abs lie crazy.

Keys to remember:

-Keep your legs straight. Not straight up and down, straight in line with your torso. It will help to dorsiflex your toes.

- Lean back as you pull up. It may also help to think about raising your feet slightly to help increase your torso angle. If you lose the line from your feet to your head though, you’ve gone too far.

- Do the reps in a slow and controlled fashion.

I like them as an advanced progression when you maybe don’t want to do heavily weighted chins, either because you don’t have a weight belt or you’re finding that weighted chins bug your elbows, wrists, shoulders, etc.

Give these a try and let me know your thoughts.

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Also, if you missed this weekend’s Good Reads, give that a look.

  • Daniel Aipa

    solid stuff as usual ben..thanks!