Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredBodyweight
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePull (Unilateral)
  • Experience LevelIntermediate
  • Secondary Muscles
    Abs, Biceps, Shoulders, Upper Back
Target Muscle Group


Lats Muscle Anatomy Diagram

One Arm Chin Up Overview

The one arm chin up is a variation of the chin up and an exercise used to strengthen the muscles of the back.

Unilateral exercises, such as the one arm chin up, allow you to work each side of the body individually to build balanced strength and an aesthetic physique.

The one arm chin up is very challenging and shouldn’t be attempted until two arm variations have been mastered.

One Arm Chin Up Instructions

  1. Using a supinated grip, grasp the bar with one hand and allow your other arm to hang freely (or wrap around your wrist if needed).
  2. Take a deep breath, squeeze your glutes and brace your abs. Depress the shoulder blade and drive the elbow straight down towards the floor while activating the lat.
  3. Pull your chin towards the bar until the lat is fully contracted, then slowly lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat for the assigned number of repetitions.

One Arm Chin Up Tips

  1. This variation will likely be too tough for a variety of lifters so as a progression, you should wrap your free hand around your wrist for additional support and try to pull primarily with the hand attached to the bar.
  2. To decrease bicep involvement, use a false (thumbless grip).
  3. Try to keep a neutral head position (looking straight ahead or slightly up) as hyperextending the neck can lead to compensations throughout the spine.
  4. If the bar is high enough, keep the legs straight and in front of the body.
  5. Avoid falling into overextension of the lumbar spine by squeezing your glutes and bracing your abs.
  6. The chinup is completed when the lats are fully flexed, don’t continue pulling and compensate with the pecs.
  7. Keep your shoulders down and back, if they round forward at the top then you’ve pulled too far.
  8. A lifter’s segment length will determine whether or not they can actually get their chin over the bar, it’s not an absolute for everyone.
  9. Lower to almost full extension of the elbow but avoid locking out completely as this can place excessive strain on the ligamentous structures within the elbow and shoulder.