“3 Way” Ring Chin-ups

Posted on by Ben Bruno

If you’re a regular reader here on my blog then you know that I love chin-ups. It’s my favorite upper body exercise by far, and I’d bet that I haven’t gone more than a few weeks total in the past 4-5 years without doing at least 100 per week, and usually it’s quite a bit more than that.

For the past three months I’ve done all my chin-ups using rings. I’ve always liked ring chins, but in my previous gym I had to hang my blast straps from the power rack in order to do them, and to be honest, I was often too lazy to want to set them up, so often just used the fixed chin-up bar and alternated between using a neutral grip (most of the time), underhand grip, overheand grip, and rotational ring chins when I took the time to set them up.

The gym I’m in now has rings set up at all times, so it works out really well.

I’ve mostly liked using rings because they feel better on the elbows and shoulders, but I also really like their versatility because they allow you to switch grips and hand positions mid-set.

A lot of people like to debate about what’s better: pull-ups (overhand), chin-ups (underhand), or neutral grip.

I personally like them all and think they all have good things to offer. I also think that changing up the grip is a really good idea, not just from a muscle building and activation standpoint, but just to avoid overuse issues with the elbows.

I will say that for most people, pull-ups will be the hardest, then neutral grip, then chin-ups being the easiest because you get more help from the biceps.

With the rings though, you don’t have to choose because you can switch grips whenever you please, or even incorporate all three variations into one set—what I call “3-Way Chins.”

I’m sure there are some jokes there for those of you with dirty minds.

Here are a few ways I’ve been using 3-Way Ring Chins.

1. 3-Way “Drop Set”

Start by doing pronated (overhand) pull-ups, then neutral grip pull-ups, then finish up with supinated (underhand) chin-ups. You’re going from the hardest version to the easiest version, so in effect it’s essentially a mechanical drop set where it gets easier as fatigue sets in, thereby allowing you to crank out more reps. You also get the muscle and strength building benefits of using all three grips in the same set. You can either do a predetermined number of reps with each grip, or just do as many as you can with each grip and switch to an easier version as you tire out.

2. 3-Way Alternating Chins

This is similar to the above, only you do one pronated pull-up, then one neutral grip chin-up, and then one supinated grip chin-up, all in succession. That’s one rep.

These are harder than doing them in “drop set” fashion but are still a great option.

3. 3-Way Ring Chin-up Iso Hold

Pull halfway up with a pronated (overhand) grip and hold. Next, pull all the way up with a neutral grip and hold again. I like to keep the body straight and lean back to increase the difficulty, but that is optional (though recommended). Lastly, lower halfway down with a supinated grip and hold again before lowering all the way back down under control. The duration of each hold will depend on your current strength level, but shoot for 10-15 seconds in each position for a total of 30-45 seconds.

I’ve always liked chin-up iso holds, and this is my new favorite way to do them.

4. “Triple Pause” 3-Way Ring Chins

Pull halfway up with a pronated (overhand) grip and pause for a second, then pull all the way up with a neutral grip and pause for a second, then lower halfway down and pause for a second with a supinated grip before lowering all the way back down. That’s one rep. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

If you don’t have rings or some sort of suspension training system, I highly recommend getting one. You’ll end up using it for tons of stuff beyond just chin-ups, so it’s well worth the money.

If you’ve got rings, give some of these variations a try and let me know what you think.

Ring chins for the win!

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