I do not think I have seen six men in my life do a chin properly. Don Howorth was one of them. Don pulled up with his chest high and touched his chest to the bar almost as low as his low Pec line. His elbows were drawn down to his sides, touching his lats, and with the chest high and the shoulders down and back, he contracted his lats to the maximum.
If you look up the function of the lat in any Kinesiology book, it will show that the lat – in the fully contracted position – the shoulders are drawn down and back! Round the back and shoulders forward, and you shift to the Teres major muscles. Also, if you do not arch your back to full contraction, you will not develop any of the fibres across the back that attach to the spine. This will give you a flat underdeveloped look with no thickness.
This is how you do the chin: Reach up and grasp the chinning bar, but not too wide…closer than you ordinarily do them, because the lats are partially contracted in a wide grip. Next, stand on a box so that you can jump up into the contracted position and hold at the top for a split second. Now, lower your body and stand on the box (Do singles). Jump up again and touch your low pec to the bar and arch the back. Most important – elbows must touch the sides in the top or contracted position to achieve maximum contraction.
The next most abused exercise is the parallel dip for pec development. The average bodybuilder does this exercise with his elbows back and his chest up and the back arched. Also, he does not drop down low enough, plus his body usually swings due to excessive speed in pec – forming the exercise. The proper way to dip is as follows: Hands should be 32” wide, elbows straight out to the sides (never back), and chin on chest. Chest must be concave and back rounded, feet forward under the head. In short, the body is in a crescent shape. The bottom of the dipping movement is the most important part of the dip; the first 8-10 inches are very isolated pec and most important – dipping receives less help from the deltoid than any other pec exercise. Bench Press plus Incline Dumbell Press – knuckles not facing each other but forward, about 90 percent assistance from delts. The wider the parallel bar, the wider the stress on the pec where the pec disappears under the front deltoid. This gives the chest a greater illusion of width.
Here, in Vince’s Gym, we have V-shaped parallel dip bars and by just moving your hands back you get a wider portion of the pec. By the way, if you hump up your back at the top of the movement, you work the Serratus muscles very forcibly.