What is a Chin-Up Bar?

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  • Written By: Matthew F.
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 December 2019
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A chin-up bar is a popular exercise and fitness tool that is a common piece in personal and commercial gyms. This piece of workout equipment is used for the exercise known as the chin-up, which is also sometimes used interchangeably with the term pull-up. Chin-ups and pull-ups can be done on this bar, which are often seen in a private gym as a portable chin-up bar. While it can be used for alternate exercises such as sit-ups, the chin-up bar is most known for the popular upper body workout from which it derives its name.

The stationary chin-up bar is a straight bar that is found most often in gyms and fitness centers, and is often attached to other workout apparatus. The bar is used in the traditional chin-up by placing both hands on the bar about shoulder length apart with the palms facing away from you. The exerciser then lifts himself off the ground using his back muscles, helped by the biceps, chest and shoulder muscles. Though it is a full upper body workout, the back is the primary target area. The workout is completed the chin is lifted up over the bar.


Chin-ups bars are commonly found attached to Smith machines, full body workout benches and weight racks with cables or barbells. The chin-up bar is often found suspended over the ground, usually low enough for an adult to reach with the arms extended, but high enough to complete the exercise without the feet or bent legs touching the ground.

A portable chin-up bar is a more common feature in a personal or home fitness room, and is often sold in fitness stores. These pieces of equipment use harnesses or clamps to attach to a door frame over the moldings, or can be adjusted to fit inside of a door frame, with each side of the bar creating pressure on the frame to stay in place. Portable chin-up bars are used in the same way as standard ones.

Other workouts that can be executed on the chin-up bar are pull-ups, which have a person lifting their chin over the bar with his palms facing his body, putting a larger strain on the bicep in addition to the back. The exerciser can also face away from the chin up bar and lift himself backward in a much more advanced exercise. With a wide grip, this puts extra emphasis on shoulder muscles. Sits can also be done from a chin-up bar by hanging from the bar upside down at the knees, and pulling the body up towards the legs using abdominal muscles.


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