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Pull-Up / Chin Up Test

The pull up test (also called the chin-up test) is widely used as a measure of upper body strength. Participants must grasp an overhead bar and pull up the body so the chin raises above the bar, then return to the position with the arms fully extended. The following information describes the procedures of this test as used in the President's Challenge, FitnessGram, and Brockport assessments.

purpose: This test measures upper body muscle strength and endurance.

equipment required: Horizontal overhead bar, set at an adequate height so that the participants can hang from it with their arms fully extended and feet not touching the floor. (see pull-up bars)

pre-test: Explain the test procedures to the subject. Perform screening of health risks and obtain informed consent. Prepare forms and record basic information such as age, height, body weight, gender and test conditions. Measure and record the height of the bar. Perform a standard warm-up. See more details of pre-test procedures.

procedure: Grasp the overhead bar using either an overhand grip (palms facing away from body) or underhand grip (palms facing toward body), with the arms fully extended. The subject then raises the body until the chin clears the top of the bar, then lowers again to a position with the arms fully extended. The pull-ups should be done in a smooth motion. Jerky motions, swinging the body, and kicking or bending the legs are not permitted. As many complete pull-ups as possible are performed.

grip to be used: the Brockport protocol states that the overhand (pronated) grip is to be used (see more about grip types).

scoring: The total number of correctly completed pull-ups is recorded. The type of grip should also be recorded with the results. See these pull-up test norms.

chin up testingChin Up Testing

variations / alternatives:

target population: sports in which upper body strength is important, such as rowing.

advantages: the equipment is readily available, and this test is easy and quick to perform.

disadvantages: due to variations in technique and whether the arms are extended or the chin reaches the bar, the scoring can be subjective, therefore it is difficult to standardize the results. For those with poor upper body strength, no pull-up may be achieved. For such groups, an alternative test of upper body strength may be appropriate. The body weight of the subject has a great effect on the results of this test.

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