Using pull up bar exercises for chest development is a bit counter-intuitive for people who understand how the upper body works. The primary function of the muscles found in the chest is to protect the expansion efforts of the rib cage, and to help the arms cross the middle line of the body. Chest muscle activity normally involves a pushing motion in the arms, but there are many exercises that are beneficial for chest muscles that do not directly involve heavy pushing.
The most famous and notable bodybuilders who were active competitively in decades past always cite rib cage expansion as key to their incredible chest muscle profiles. Arnold, Franco, Sergio, and Lou always relied on secondary chest exercises to enhance their incredible physiques. These exercises did not directly target pectoral and front deltoid muscles. Instead, they targeted the complexes of internal muscles that supported the appearance of a wider, fuller, and more developed chest region. These muscles beautifully intersect the chest, but have origins in other major upper body muscle groups.
A pull up bar is a simple, yet essential piece of workout equipment for people wanting to achieve complete chest development. Most bodybuilders only concentrate on the frontal aspects of the chest. A secret of past champion bodybuilders for enhancing a chest profile, is accentuating the full length of chest muscles. This can only be achieved with the incorporation of certain secondary exercises.
The Classic Chin Up
This chest-expanding exercise was named because raising the body above a pull up bar to chin level is a description of its range of motion. This exercise is simple in motion, but very difficult in realization. It involves grasping a pull up bar with wide hands, and pulling the body upward. The body should be pulled up to a level where the chin is higher than the bar.
Many people equate this movement with a machine, or cable lat pull-down. The truth is, it is very different. The pull up bar chin requires a specific motion in the shoulder blades, back muscles, and internal upper torso muscles to perform well. The result of a wide-grip chin exercise is full expansion of the rib cage and shoulder complex, which results in more body width for the chest to grow. There are few massive champion bodybuilders who do not incorporate the classic chin pull up into their workout routines.
- Start with a solid grip on a pull up bar at slightly more than shoulder width.
- As you feel your body weight work against gravity, inhale and the shoulder blades move outward.
- With a solid exhale and engaging of core muscles, use the power of the back muscles to draw your body toward the pull up bar.
- A classic chin rep is complete when the top portion of the chest touches the bar, and the head and chin are above it.
- Slowly lower the body and repeat. If the arm muscles fatigue before the back muscles, you are not doing the exercise in a way that promotes rib cage expansion. Try the exercise with a wider grip, or use a machine that provides assistance in order to achieve the correct motion.
Cross Fit Kipping
A popular exercise in the fitness community for overall upper strength development is kipping. This exercise is very aggressive, and develops almost every muscle above the waist. If it is modified, it targets only the chest muscles.
Kipping is a unique pulling exercise that looks like a pull up, but starts with an aggressive swinging motion. The weight of the body is shifted back and forth, and utilizes momentum and strength to thrust the body above a pull up bar. The lower portion of this exercise is what targets the muscles of the chest.
- Grasp a pull up bar as if you are beginning a chin up (hands at slightly more than shoulder width).
- Inhale strongly, and tense all of the muscles above the waist.
- With a slow and concentrated effort, try to pull the grip bar toward the body on the front portion of a slight hanging swing. This should be done with locked elbows. Raise the body a few inches toward the bar. If this motion is done correctly, the body will be pushed backward, the chest and shoulders will be fully engaged, and there will be extreme muscle contraction in the arms.
- Hold for a few seconds, and return to a hanging position. The intense and limited range of this exercise is incredibly effective for promoting thick chest development and balanced pectoral stretching.
Adjustable Pull Up Bar Advantages
If your pull bar can be adjusted and lowered to any height, it can be the perfect chest workout tool. Everyone who wants to develop their chest knows about the importance of the floor push-up. With a bar, it can be enhanced. Lower an adjustable push up bar to knee-level, and try the following.
- Grasp a push up bar at knee-level with both hands. Varying widths target different parts of the chest. Stand far enough away from the bar so the body is at a 45 degree angle, or less to the floor.
- Like a classic push-up, use the bar to activate the muscles of the chest. Create more intensity by trying to “bend” the bar with the hands. This will activate muscles in the sub-scapular, intercostal, and front shoulder regions. All of these contribute to full chest development.
- Perform push-up motions with the goal of exerting maximum force. Switch body angles. A lesser angle will target the upper chest. A greater angle will target the massive middle and lower chest muscles that lie against the rib cage. Perform these modified push-ups until exhaustion.
The group of muscles composing what onlookers see as a great chest are complex. They originate and terminate at various points along the rib cage and anterior shoulder region. Using a pull up bar to work the chest is an endeavor that requires some finesse’ and knowledge. Still, simple pull up bar exercises for chest using body weight, is all that is required to supplement other standard exercises like the bench press and chest flye for total pectoral development and growth. Be sure to choose a strong push up bar for each of these exercises.