Pull ups vs chin ups men's fitness arena

Pull Ups vs Chin Ups: The vital difference.

Pull Ups vs Chin Ups is a close yet far kind-off comparison. Here in this article, I have put in every minute difference between Pull Ups and Chin Ups.

What types of people should prefer which one over the other, Which muscle groups does each of these targets, What are there benefits etc?

All these questions are solved in this article.

Pull Ups vs Chin Ups: The basic difference.

Pull UpsChin Ups
1. Grip for Pull Ups is an overhand grip. That is your palms are facing away from your face.1. Whereas Grip for Chin Ups is an underhand grip. That is your palms are facing towards your face.
2. Grip width for Pull Ups is usually wide i.e Shoulder length grip or more than that.2. Grip width for Chin Ups is usually narrow i.e Shoulder length grip or less.

Muscles targetted

Pull Ups and Chin Ups both target almost the same muscle groups but the emphasis on each muscle is different for each of these exercises.

This difference in the emphasis makes it vital to choose one of these two exercises for your workout to get the most out of it.

Pull Ups

pull ups vs chin ups: pull ups

Pulls Ups puts most of the emphasis to recruit the lat muscles. The emphasis on biceps for this exercise is less because when we use the overhand grip ( Pull-Ups ), The basic function of bicep i.e supination is eliminated.

Here’s a short video about how supination increases target on biceps.

Here’s a short video about how supination increases target on biceps.

The wide grip allows shoulder abduction. This shoulder adduction allows the engagement of more back muscle fibers.

As The lats ( back muscle) has to do most of the work, Pull ups are considered a bit tough to perform.

Further variation in Pull Ups

For the shoulder length grips, more of the upper back is targeted compared to the lower back.

Close grip pull ups
A young african man doing close grip pull-up exercise in outdoors

Whereas for wider grip it is said that more lower back fibers are targeted.

The range of motion decreases as we widen the grip.

Wide grip Pull Ups

Chin Ups

As the grip for chin ups is almost a completely supinated grip, most of the work for performing this exercise is done by the biceps and hence, Chin Ups is a biceps centric exercise.

Chin ups vs pull ups
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez/Released)

The involvement of biceps for this exercise is a reason why most of us usually feel that the Chin Ups is easier than the pull ups.

Which of this exercise to do?

For beginners:

If you are a beginner you are probably having a hard time performing even a few reps of any of these ( Pull Ups or Chin Ups).

If this is the case I recommend you to stick to any one of these (whichever you feel comfortable with ). Despite the emphasis on muscles, both Pull ups and Chin Ups target same muscle groups.

Once you build enough strength that you could pull-off some decent reps of Pull Ups or Chin Ups, Now you can go into more depth i.e Emphasis perspective ( covered in the below topic)

For Intermediate or Advance:

You can focus on the deeper approach that is muscle emphasis. On the back, workout days do pull ups and on arms, day do chin ups.

Why are Pull Ups and Chin Ups so important?

Not just pull ups and chin ups but every body-weight exercise is the foundation of bodybuilding/fitness. And the benefits of pull ups and chin ups are lists long.

  • Body-weight exercises like pull ups, chin ups, push ups, etc make you realize where you stand. For eg: If you bench heavy enough but aren’t able to do 10 push-ups, this is the sign that you have to work on building more strength, and your bench press form probably sucks.
  • For beginners, these are the best exercises for building muscles faster.

Pull Ups vs Chin Ups: Which one is better?

There’s no actual comparison between the two as both the exercises are equally important.

That means choosing any one of these 2 exercises for your workout routine is not really a great approach. Your workout should contain both of these exercises because they are super important for upper body gains.

Performance frequency.

Try to add both Pull Ups and Chin Ups at least 2 times a week. But make sure that you do not do them on consecutive days.

You should keep at least 48 hours of gap between each of these exercises. Because recovery is the most important factor for muscle growth.

Doing chin ups and/or pull ups every day won’t result in faster gains. In fact, this practice may lead to muscle loss.

Keep these exercises on the pull days at the beginning of the workout. This will make sure that you have 48 hrs of the gap between each pull workout.

How to build strength for pull ups/chin ups.

Pull Ups/Chin Ups might look easy but doing even a single rep feels impossible for most of the beginners.

So here are some tips on what exercises you should begin with in order to be able to do pull ups.

  • Core training once a week
  • Lat pull-downs
  • Rowing movement exercises
  • Bicep curls
  • Deadlifts
  • Front and side raises
Lat pull-downs

Putting more effort into the above exercises in your regular routine will help you gain pull up strength in no time.

Start with neutral grip pull ups. These are considered as the easier form of pull ups, because extra muscle fibers i.e brachialis ( outer side of the biceps ) are also used for this variation.

Here’s how neutral grip pull ups are performed.

And then you can slowly move towards more challenging variations i.e Neutral grip pull ups -> Chin ups -> Pull ups.

Form

As in every other exercise, Form, and range of motion carries high priority for these exercises too.

It is of no use to perform chin ups/pull ups if you are jerking, bouncing, and swinging around the bar to lift your body up.

Slower the reps more will be the muscle-mind connection and hence more will be the gains!!!

2 Clean reps are always better than 8 jerky reps.

Nutrition:

You master the Pull ups or Chin ups or any other exercise, but if your nutrition is shit, you are gonna look like shit. You won’t be able to gain even a single pound of muscle if your diet is not right.

Lets discuss two most important meals for this concern

  1. Pre-workout meal: This meal is supposed to fuel you for the workout. Hence this meal should be focused on energy-rich foods and a little bit of protein-rich food ( To avoid muscle loss in case of overtraining )
Carbs for fueling pull ups

Therefore 70 to 80% of this meal should consist of complex carbs and 20 to 30% should contain proteins

  1. Post-workout meal: This meal should provide raw material to recover from the muscle damage that happened in the gym and should replenish the glycogen stores
Pull ups vs Chin Ups proteins

Therefore this meal should contain 80% of protein and 20% of carbs to replenish the glycogen.

Note:

No fats after or before a workout because Intake of fats before a workout will affect your workout by making you feel bloated. And intake of fats after the workout will result in slow protein digestion whereas in these hours your body needs immediate proteins.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Do Pull ups make you stronger?

Absolutely yes.
Not just pull-ups but every other body-weight exercises are the best strength builders. In fact, for Kids to whom hitting the gym is a big deal, they can always rely on body-weight exercises to build strength.

How many Pull ups can an average man do?

Any average men should manage to hit 7-8 reps of pull ups with acceptable form. Those who can do 10-15 reps are considered as fit and those who can manage more than 15 reps are considered as Strong.

Can we do pull ups and chin ups on the same day?

Yes, It is just perfect to do pull ups and chin ups on the same day. Both these exercises work the same muscles it’s just the emphasis that is different. So it is ideal to perform them on the same day.

Is doing pull ups everyday bad?

Yes, Your muscles need rest in order to grow. Rest is as important as diet and workout. Doing pull ups every day will lead to over-training and will kill your gains.
At most, you can do pull ups every alternate day.

I can do chin ups but not pull ups. Why?

This is because our body uses back muscle and biceps partially when we do chin ups. Whereas for pull ups our body depends more (like 90%) on our back muscle alone and hence doing pull-ups seems tough compared to doing chin ups.
This also means that you need to build a bit more strength in order to be able to do pull ups. Stick to chin-ups until then.

About the author

Nachiket Kolte

Hi, I'm Nachiket Kolte a fitness blogger with an obsession for fitness. This website is dedicated to helping people learn about fitness and achieve their fitness goals easily.

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