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Christian Lemburg 03-30-2005 01:53 AM

In my progression to good form on pullups I recently focused on achieving full range sternum pullups (chest hits bar). I found that it is much easier for me to do a full range sternum chinup (palms facing to me) than a full range sternum pullup (palms facing away from me).

Is this "normal"? Am I doing something wrong?

Tanner Kolb 03-30-2005 06:10 AM

that is typical. it is easier to do a pull up with your palms facing you than away from you. there is more of a mechanical advantage, as far as muscles being used and focused on.

Christian Lemburg 03-30-2005 09:07 AM

Have been doing some research on this - here two links of interest to this topic (pullups vs. chinups):

- -358.html : discusses pullups vs. chinups, advocating chinups for more "compound" impact

- : results of motion analysis studies (student projects) - down under "Strengthening exercises", there are two studies comparing pullups and chinups (as well as one comparing wide vs. narrow pullups and many others studying pushups, overhead presses, squats, etc.); unfortunately, both studies use only one subject and come to conflicting results with respect to ROM

Ross Hunt 03-30-2005 06:41 PM


I wish I had your problem; I have yet to get a sternum chin. I've been working intensely on negs for the past week or two, but I can't do a full-ROM neg because I can't rotate myself into the proper top position at the top or get the bar to my sternum. I'm trying to figure out if I'm just too weak for this one right now, period, or if I just need to work on it for a little while to bring up my horizantal pulling strength.

Could you tell me how much pull-up and rowing strength you had when you got your first sternum chin?

Christian Lemburg 03-31-2005 05:28 AM


When I achieved my first sternum chinup (2005-03-04), I could do:

- about 15 "perfect" deadhang pullups (chin over bar)
- 30 kipping chinups (with very bad form at end)
- 5 weighted pullups with 15kg sand in rucksack

(These are the "feats" I recorded at about that time. I don't know about rowing, I don't do this. Bodyweight was about 69kg.)

Given my rapid progress since then, I think sternum pullups and chinups are more about "skill" (or doing it right) then about pure strength.

You have to "arch" your back (pull shoulder blades together) strongly at the top to get your chest to the bar, and you need to do this at the right moment to make the chest hit the bar.

What really helped me achieve the first sternum pullup (sternum chinups are comparatively easy for me, as stated in my question) was to focus on the "arching" movement, performing it "dry" with a broomstick. After I practised that a few times, voila, I hit the bar.

I am now doing about 10 sternum chinups several times a day to GTG and get used to the ROM and arching. The sternum pullups will hopefully come along. After reading through the material cited above, I currently am inclined to focus more on increasing the numbers on my "good" sternum chinups than to waste time and motivation by focusing on correcting my "bad" sternum pullups. I hope I am being smart here, and not "wimping out".

Any thoughts on this?

Good luck,


Ross Hunt 03-31-2005 06:57 AM


Thanks for the quick response.
You emphasize the timing of the shoulder blade pinch. Maybe I should try doing these a little bit faster, using a little bit more momentum? So far I've been trying to grind through the rep very slowly, exerting a lot of effort to try to lever my body up, rather than pulling for the bar and 'pushing' my chest towards it.

Christian Lemburg 03-31-2005 07:27 AM


When I got my first sternum chin, I definitely used momentum to get up! By now, I can do it slowly for chins, but I still need momentum for the sternum pullup. When I am talking about 10 sternum chins in my last post - these are all done with momentum (feels like chest hitting bar rather than being pressed to it). Using momentum does not mean kipping - I just pull rather forcefully and "fly into the bar" instead of "grinding up" to it.

Your description of "pulling for the bar and 'pushing' my chest towards it" fits very well with what I do - pull and arch feel more like two separate actions to me - the arching part is not like a pose that I try to hold throughout the pull.

Good luck,


Justin Jacobsen 04-01-2005 04:38 AM

The sternum pullup is not an end unto itself. Its purpose is to gauge how explosive your pull is. So yes, you do want to use "momentum", though that is not really what you are doing. You are grabbing the bar and EXPLODING your body up to the bar. If you pull hard enough, your chest will hit the bar. It is the same difference between the slow grinding standard deadlift and the explosive speed pull.

Think of this: if you were the ultimate hard guy, you would be able to pull so hard that your body would travel over the bar in a vertical position, feet extended but clearing the bar, and landing in a standing position on the other side.

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