Guys, we’re not going to waste your time here—chin ups and pull ups are two sides of the same coin.
I mean, look at them; they’re ever performed similarly.
You should be doing both of them, but it’s important to understand why.
Most of the muscle groups that are targeted are the same, but the key differences will show you why you need to do both.
Let’s delve into this heated topic of the chin up vs pull up, and break it down step by step.
- 1 What’s the Difference Between a Chin Up and a Pull Up? (450)
- 2 How to do a Proper Chin Up?
- 3 How to do a Proper Pull Up?
- 4 What Are Neutral Grip Pull Ups?
- 5 Combined Benefits of Both
- 6 Drawbacks
- 7 Time to Diversify Your Workout
What’s the Difference Between a Chin Up and a Pull Up? (450)
Let’s start with the main differences. With a chin up, your palms are facing away from you.
They’re gripping the bar so that you can see the top of your hands. Pull ups are the polar opposite: your palms are facing you.
That’s the immediate way to spot the difference. But the thing is, these are mildly different in appearance, but fairly different with what they do for your body.
For one, chin ups are usually done with a wider grip on the bar. You’ve probably noticed tons of exercise magazines or videos where they go for wider pull ups, and that’s good when you’re progressing, but notice I said pull ups.
Chin ups actually work different muscles, and one of those is the lats. They both work the lats, but chin ups engage them more. This can be good, or bad depending on how you approach it.
If you do wide chin ups, your lats can lock up. They’re mechanically at a loss; they’re operating outside of the capacity that they’re supposed to.
This opens you up to more injuries, and it doesn’t exactly come with any reward to match that risk.
So in reality, chin ups are better done with a narrow, shoulder-width grasp on the bar.
Pull ups are okay to do with a wider pull, because of the way the lats are engaged later on in the motion.
Another key difference is that chin ups are arguably more difficult than pull ups.
They’re both effective and difficult in their own right, but pull ups don’t engage the same number of muscles as a chin up. That, and your arms are meant to bend inward at the elbow like they do.
But when you do a chin up, you have to keep those wrists locked, and you raise your elbows at a more horizontal angle than you do with pull ups.
For pull ups, you can move your wrists a bit while pulling without it causing any problems.
During a pull up, you engage the lats a bit less.
It’s easier to do a pull up than a properly formed chin up, but even so, a properly formed chin up will naturally engage your lats and put them to work without damaging them.
That’s where that narrow form comes in again.
Also, while I mentioned that your arms are meant to curl in the way they do, that doesn’t mean that pull ups are better.
All it means is that it’s easier to have proper form and not injure yourself. Because it follows a natural flow, your body is more equipped to do pull ups than chin ups.
But a chin up puts your biceps to work just a bit harder. It takes just a little bit more out of you, and that’s a good thing.
How to do a Proper Chin Up?
Stand in front of the bar, and gently raise your shoulders as if you were in mid shrug. With your palms facing away from you, place them both on the bar.
Your hands should match the width of your shoulders.
Grip the bar firmly so your wrists are locking in place.
Your wrists shouldn’t move much during a chin up, since you’re relying on that connection to help keep your body rigidly in place.
Squeeze the bar. Feel your arms and shoulders engage.
Keeping your feet together, pull your body up while allowing your arms to bend.
It’s important to keep your core tight and legs locked in place so you aren’t moving your momentum while lifting yourself up.
The whole point is to pull your chin up to the bar. Once your chin reaches the bar, you’ve done well.
Descend until your arms have fully extended or your feet touch the floor in the same spot they began in, whichever comes first. That’s one rep.
How to do a Proper Pull Up?
We’re going to approach the bar in a similar way.
Strand straight in front of it, but instead of putting your palms out, you’re going to put your arms underneath the bar. Your palms should be facing you.
Firmly grasp the bar and keep your wrists a bit loose. Unlike chin ups, we want a bit of lateral wrist movement. Pull your shoulders up a bit and lock them in place.
Hold your core tight and start pulling upwards on the bar.
You’re going to feel your chin raise up until it’s level with the bar, just like with a chin up, but here you’re going to pull in your knees just a tiny bit while engaging your core.
Lower down, exhale, inhale, and then pull yourself back up into another motion. That’s one rep, and with pull ups, you can do far more of them in a single sitting than you can with chin ups.
What Are Neutral Grip Pull Ups?
With chin ups, you’re engaging the hell out of your lats. With pull ups, you keep it narrow and engage your biceps a bit more.
This happens in a neutral position, where your body isn’t specifically engaging your biceps or your back muscles.
In that regard, it’s neutral, though the title for them is fairly ironic since neutral usually means not for one or the other—you’re still getting a good workout in.
It’s the least engaging type of pull up, but it still gets the job done. Raise your hands up straight so that your palms are facing each other.
Now imagine that you had two small bars (commonly seen in door frame pull up bars) and you’re grabbing onto them.
Your arms are just straight up; there’s no crazy engagement of other muscles by raising your arms in specific positions.
This is a neutral pull up. It’s all about the grip. You still have to pull your body weight up, but it’s considered easier than a pull up, and much easier than a chin up.
Combined Benefits of Both
Pull ups, chin ups—you’re going to reap the rewards from both when you really put the time in. These are benefits you can get from either one.
This is something you’re going to use across the board when it comes to fitness.
You need a solid grip on training equipment and machinery when you’re using it, and the wrist strengthening, coupled with bicep improvements, are going to add up to a lot.
Strength training helps you with something called the afterburn effect. It means that you’re going to continue to burn fat even after you’ve gotten off the pull up bar for the day.
Many forms of strength training help with this, but pull ups and chin ups, being part of calisthenics, engage more than dumbbells or a barbell will any day of the week.
Men want that V-shape to fall in line with that natural, arguably perfect aesthetic design that everyone loves. It makes you look better, and when you look better, you feel better.
Physical fitness is about being healthy, but nobody said you can’t look like a model at the same time.
Trains Multiple Muscle Groups at Once
Trainers want you to do one exercise for one muscle group, another for a different one—stop. Stop doing a ton of unnecessary stuff, when you could just be doing more compound exercises that combine numerous muscle groups into singular motions.
Random Health Benefits
These are just some of the major health benefits that you can enjoy with pull ups and chin ups. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Increased sex drive
- More stamina
- Lower blood pressure
- Regulated blood sugar
- Less likely to lose hair (circulation to scalp)
- Increases your metabolic rate
- Helps reduce chronic pain
- Works for cardiovascular health
- Enhances mental health
- Better blood circulation
- And more
Why wouldn’t you want to get started with them right away?
You’re a few exercises away from having a superiorly enhanced body that can handle whatever life throws at you. It starts with a simple workout, and it excels from there.
The more muscles you engage, the more likely you are to get injured. It’s why you’ll hear me talk about form again and again, because it’s that important to get down pat right from the beginning.
It’s what prevents those injuries.
The main drawback of attempting either of these is that you’re relying on your body weight and initially, untrained muscles.
That means there’s going to be some struggling, some shaking as you try to get yourself steady and confident in your form.
Proper form isn’t easy, it’s just the way you have to do it to see the results you’re after. It’s the tougher option, but it’s the right one.
Pull ups and chin ups work a lot of muscles, but they can leave you feeling sore as hell right after a solid workout.
That old mantra of “no pain, no gain” has some truth to it, but you also shouldn’t go into the gym to do more pull ups when you’re in agony, either. That’s not good for you.
It can take 2-3 days to fully recuperate from some serious muscle tearing and general injuries when you do a pull up or chin up the wrong way.
Time to Diversify Your Workout
Chin ups and pull ups are both part of calisthenics, a workout system that uses your own natural body weight and resistance to develop your muscles and improve your overall relative strength.
They should both be part of your daily workout.
By implementing both, you’re diversifying your workout experience and giving yourself a better shot at developing those muscles.
Target more muscle groups, shred more fat, and overall build a stronger, more chiseled body with as much differentiation in your workout regimen as possible.