Let’s break down the differences between chin-up vs pull-up and learn which exercise can build more muscles in this article. Keep reading to find out more.
In this article:
- What Is the Positional Difference Between Chin-Up vs Pull-Up?
- How to Do Pull-Ups Vs Chin-Ups?
- What Exercise Is More Difficult to Do?
- What Exercise Builds More Muscle?
- Why Add Them Both to One’s Overall Workout Plan?
- Who Should Do Pull-Ups or Chin-Ups?
- When to Do Chin-Ups or Pull-Ups?
- What Injuries to Watch Out for and How to Avoid Them?
Pitting Chin-up vs Pull-up | Which Exercise to Add in One’s Workout
What Is the Positional Difference Between Chin-Up vs Pull-Up?
At first glance, these two exercises might seem very similar — given the motion and equipment involved — but there are a few important distinctions one needs to look at more closely.
One of the key differences is the hand position.
For pull-ups, palms are facing outwards, away from the lifter, at slightly wider shoulder-width. This is also called a pronated or overhand grip.
With chin-ups, on the other hand, the palms are inward-facing, pointing towards the lifter at shoulder-width. This is also called supinated or underhand grip pull-ups.
Although both target the back and biceps through vertical pulling movements, the specific mechanism of each motion differs.
To perform pull-ups, an individual will adduct the shoulder. On the other hand, a person will do a shoulder extension to perform chin-ups.
How to Do Pull-Ups Vs Chin-Ups?
Pull Up vs. Chin Up GIF by Giphy
- With a wide or shoulder-width grip, grab a pull-up bar with the palms facing away from the body.
- Next, pull the body up to lift the chin just above the bar.
- Once at the top, contract the lats for one count before returning to the starting position.
- Do three sets of as many reps as possible.
- With a shoulder-width grip, grab a pull-up bar with the palms facing towards the body.
- Bring the body up the bar lifting the chin over it.
- Contract the lats for one count at the top of the movement before returning to the starting position.
- Do three sets of as many reps as possible.
What Exercise Is More Difficult to Do?
The positional difference affects which muscles are involved in the movement.
The shoulder-width grip pull-up is the hardest pull-up variation because the position emphasizes the lats in the motion. Chin-ups, with the supinated grip, are easier to perform because aside from the lats they also include the biceps in the movement.
A person will find a movement easier to perform if more muscles are involved in the exercise. For example, keeping the differentiation above in mind, if one can perform 10 chin-ups, he or she may only do 6 pull-ups.
What Exercise Builds More Muscle?
It is known that pull-ups and chin-ups train the lats and the biceps. The answer to this question depends on a person’s overall goal.
One can interpret the question in two ways: which exercise targets more muscles and which isolates a muscle group better?
The former is more important to people who want to spend less time at the gym while getting as many gains as possible. The latter matters more to people who want to focus on training a certain muscle group by getting as much strain as possible per workout session.
If a person values more muscles worked over less period of time, chin-ups will train both the back and biceps efficiently. If on the other hand, what’s important for him or her is maximum back muscle strain per session for more muscle growth, doing pull-ups is the sure winner.
Why Add Them Both to One’s Overall Workout Plan?
Instead of picking which one is better at building muscle efficiently and faster, why not just incorporate both exercises in the overall workout routine? By doing pull-ups and chin-ups, one can make the most out of his/her workout session.
Building one’s relative strength is an important part of bodybuilding or working out in general. These exercises will allow a lifter to perform more complex and demanding movements.
Adding chin-ups and pull-ups into one’s weekly routine will help in building the back and one’s relative strength. They can also serve as great warm-up exercises before the main lifting session.
Relative Strength Definition: This measures how strong a person is compared to his or her size.
Who Should Do Pull-Ups or Chin-Ups?
Admittedly, these two aren’t easy to execute, especially for beginners. To ease the body into doing these exercises, beginners can start from doing neutral grip (palms are facing each other) pull-ups and progress to doing chin-ups, shoulder-width overhand grip pull-ups, and finally, wide-grip pull-ups.
When to Do Chin-Ups or Pull-Ups?
For more experienced lifters who can pull themselves over the bar already, be strategic on the hand positioning to activate muscles to be targeted. If the target is the biceps, go with chin-ups; if targeting the lats, choose pull-ups.
What Injuries to Watch Out for and How to Avoid Them?
1. Shoulder Injuries
Shoulder injuries, specifically rotator cuff damages, are one of the most common pull-up injuries. It’s also one of the reasons why people stop doing them.
To decrease the chances of getting injures, gradually train and strengthen the rotator cuff muscles. Use light weights to do sets of internal and external shoulder rotation exercises.
It is best to perform these at the end of shoulder workouts.
If pain arises while doing pull-ups or chin-ups, stop right away. Consult a doctor if the shoulders are painful, weak, or numb.
2. Elbow Injuries
Elbow pain is one of the most sources of discomfort in bodybuilding. Lifters tend to incorrectly perform the movement with the goal of “just getting their body up” by any means.
To force themselves up, some will flexion their fingers, pronate their wrists into the bar, and/or flex the wrist in the movement. All of these add an unnecessary strain to the elbows.
To correct this, a person should initiate the movement with the use of the shoulders.
3. Neck Injuries
While neck injuries are quite rare, they can totally happen. To avoid this, keep the head aligned with the spine when doing the movement and avoid adding any kind of strain to the head such as teeth gritting, neck flexing, or grimacing.
Check out this video from BarBend and learn the difference between a chin-up and a pull-up:
Learning the differences between exercises give the advantage of properly incorporating them into one’s workout to achieve specific goals. May this quick side-by-side comparison of chin-up vs pull-up help everyone in designing their workout routines.
Do you have any other questions about chin-up vs pull-up? Let us know in the comments section below!