Wide-Grip Chins to Build Lats

The Strong Survive!

By IFBB Pro Johnnie Jackson

Sponsored by ALLMAX

Q: Johnnie, I read about how you do weighted wide-grip chins and I just don’t know how you do it and still hit your lats. I can do sets of 10-12 reps with my bodyweight and really squeeze, but when I try to add weight, I need to cheat my ass off to get the reps up and I don’t end up feeling anything except my biceps and a little rear delts, I think. Should I stick to bodyweight chins, or do you have any suggestions as to how I can do them weighted and get more out of them?

A: My first question is, how much weight were you adding? I am guessing you must have tried a 45-pound plate, which was too much. If you can do good chins with your bodyweight, you should start out by adding just 5-10 pounds and stick with that for a few weeks, then go 15, 20, 25, etc. It’s like anything else. You don’t go from squatting 135 to 315 right away, so why would you make such a big jump on chins?

Another issue that may or not apply to you, and I can’t say because I don’t know how you’re doing them, is going too wide. Unless you’re well over 6 feet and have arms as long as a chimp, you shouldn’t be gripping the bar at the very ends. Going that wide cuts your range of motion too short, and also puts your biceps in a very weak position – which would cause them to fail really fast, long before the lats got a damn thing out of the chins. Try gripping right where the bar bends on both sides, which should be about shoulder width. Your biceps will be in a stronger pulling position to assist the lats, and your range of motion will be complete.

Respect for All Bodybuilders

Q: I’ve wanted to ask you this for a while. Being that you are the world’s strongest bodybuilder, do you have more respect for bodybuilders who are also very strong? And do you have any less respect for those who are not? We have all seen huge guys who are very powerful, and others who aren’t as strong as you would think they are by looking at them.

A: I respect strength in powerlifters, and I respect physiques in bodybuilding. Even though I compete in both sports, I am well aware that they are completely different. The way you look has nothing to do with your success in powerlifting, and the weights you use in the gym ultimately have nothing to do with your success in bodybuilding. If you’re a bodybuilder, do what you need to do and train the way you need to train. Obviously, I have been beaten in bodybuilding many times by men who can’t handle anywhere near the weights I can. I think it’s more the fans who pay attention to that than the actual competitors. A lot of guys train both to look good and to be strong, but for IFBB Pros who compete as our job, it’s all about the physique. Some pros aren’t very strong compared to others, but I respect each and every one of them. Bodybuilding is an incredibly difficult sport to succeed in, and it only gets harder the higher up the ranks you get. It’s a 24/7 commitment of training hard, eating clean meals every two to three hours you are awake every single day, and making sure you get enough rest at all times. And once you start talking about what it takes to diet down to the point where your glutes and hams are striated, forget about it. Most people will never come close to that level of effort, sacrifice, and discipline. So definitely, I respect all my fellow bodybuilders whether they can bench press 225 or 600 pounds.

Vibram Shoes for Leg Training

Q: I see a lot of guys in the gym now wearing those finger shoes by Vibram. They are supposed to be awesome for leg workouts, and even more so for training calves. Have you ever tried them, and if not, would you?

A: I actually do own a pair of those, just because I thought they looked cool so I figured I would see what they were like. You can definitely get a better contraction on calf exercises. For the legs, they’re OK but I don’t think they are necessarily any better than anything else with a flat sole, like wrestling shoes. My feet are flat, so I need shoes with an arch to them. Boots are what I prefer on leg day, also because they give you more solid support for things like heavy squats and leg presses.

The other thing about Vibrams you should know is that they are fine to wear for a short time, but I would recommend bringing another pair of sneakers to change into if you have to go anywhere after the gym that involves a lot of walking. The toes on the Vibrams grip the ground very well, too well actually. One time I had to go to the mall after the gym with those on, and pretty soon my toes were killing me!

Overtraining Will Prevent Growth

Q: Do you believe overtraining is a real thing? I once heard it said that “there is no such thing as overtraining – only under-eating.” Do you agree with that?

A: No, I do not. If you buy into that, then you have to believe that there’s virtually an unlimited amount of food your body can process and absorb. Even if you could somehow manage to put down some ridiculous daily total like 1,000 grams of protein and 3,000 grams of carbs for a total of 16,000 calories (not including any dietary fat), there is just no way your body could digest it all and utilize it. High volume is one thing, but don’t think you can train for eight hours a day or something ridiculous like that and possibly recover. The bottom line is always going to be that you stimulate a muscle to grow by training it, but it’s only going to grow if you let it rest and recover. It doesn’t matter how much you eat if you never let the muscles rest – you won’t grow.

Instagram @johnnieojackson

Website: www.jojfitness.com




1 scoop Impact Pump (helps increase blood flow and transportation of nutrients while significantly helping the focus for mind-muscle connection)

1 scoop Aminocore (prevents muscle tissue breakdown during training)

10g Glutamine (helps with DOMS, insulin sensitivity, gut health, and immune system)

5g Creatine (for that fast-acting, explosive power needed to push weights and helps with muscle hydration)

1 scoop Carbion (50g carbs) (really helps with energy and endurance during workout by giving your body carbs that don’t have to be digested, therefore they are readily available for fuel)


2 scoops IsoFlex (fast-digesting protein with essential amino acids to start the building or repairing process immediately)

10g Glutamine again (helps with DOMS, insulin sensitivity, gut health and immune system)

Give these a try and watch your energy, intensity and pumps dramatically increase in the gym.


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