1. pull up guy

    Do you know how to correctly perform a pull up and a chin up, do you understand the difference between them both and which muscle groups they each work?

    This article explores these questions and more as we compare chin ups vs pull ups:

     

  2. chin up vs pull up topic 1

    What’s The Difference Between a Chin up and a Pull up?

    Take a look around the fitness forums and you’ll find some pretty heated disputes between die hard pull up guys arguing whether chin ups and pull ups are the same or different.

    50 years ago there was no distinction, the terms were interchangeable and meant lifting yourself up so your chin was above the bar. As time has gone on the usage of the terms chin up and pull up have diverged to mean two different types of exercises.

    The thing that differentiates a pull up from a chin up is the hand grip used, they are both excellent compound exercises, meaning they work multiple muscles, specifically the muscles in your back, shoulders and arms, but because of this change in grip the focus of primary effort changes from one muscles area to another.

  3. chin up vs pull up topic 2

    What is a chin up?

    A chin up pulls your entire weight up so your chin is above the bar and uses a grip with palms facing you, known as a supinated grip like this.

    chin up supinate

    How to Perform a Chin Up

    1. Position both hands on the bar with palms facing you shoulder width or slightly narrower
    2. Cross one leg behind the other and hang from the bar
    3. Contract your shoulder blades and elbows, pulling your chest towards the bar.
    4. Continue until your chin is above the bar
    5. Slowly lower yourself back down again, take care not to fully extend your elbow
    6. Repeat.

    chin up

  4. chin up vs pull up topic 3

    What is a pull up?

    The standard explanation of a pull up is one that uses a Pronated grip, with your palms facing away from you. Other types of grips can be used and still count as a pull up but this is the standard one.

    chin up

    How to Perform a Pull Up

    1. Position both hands on the bar with palms away from you at should width
    2. Cross one leg behind the other and hang from the bar
    3. Contract your shoulder blades and elbows, pulling your chest towards the bar
    4. Continue until your chin is above the bar
    5. Slowly lower yourself back down again, take care not to fully extend your elbow
    6. Repeat.

    chin up

  5. chin up vs pull up topic 4

    Which Muscles Do Chin ups Work?

    chin up muslces

    All of the following muscles are used in a chin up, the same ones used in pull ups; the difference is where the primary work is done.

    Primary Chin Up Muscles

    • Biceps Brachii (Biceps)
    • Latissimus Dorsi (Lats)
    • Teres Major (Outer Back)

    Secondary Chin Up Muscles

    • Rhomboid Major (Upper Back)
    • Trapezius (Upper Back)

    Auxiliary Chin Up Muscles

    • Pectoralis Major (Chest / Pecs)
    • Pollicis Longus (Forearms)
    • Digitorum Profundus / Superficialis
    • Carpi Radialis Ulnaris (Forearms)

    In addition to these main muscles you will also work your core muscles, which engage for stabilization.

  6. chin up vs pull up topic 5

    Which Muscles Do Pull ups Work?

    pull up muscles

    The great thing with pull ups is you can vary you grip to vary the muscles worked, a wider grip will engage your lats even more, but don’t go too wide or you won’t get the full range of movement.

    These are the main muscles worked performing a pull up with your grip shoulder width.

    Primary Pull Up Muscles

    • Teres Major (Outer Back)
    • Latissimus Dorsi (Lats)

    Secondary Pull Up Muscles

    • Trapezius (Upper Back)
    • Rhomboid Major (Upper Back)
    • Biceps Brachialis (Biceps)

    Auxiliary Pull Up Muscles

    • Pectoralis Major (Chest / Pecs)
    • Brachioradialis (Forearms)
    • Carpi Radialis Ulnaris (Forearms)
    • Digitorum Profundus / Superficialis (Forearms)
    • Pollicis Longus (Forearms)

    In addition to these main muscles you will also work your core muscles, which engage for stabilization.

  7. chin up vs pull up topic 6

    Should You Perform Chin ups or Pull ups?

    Neither one is better than the other – they’re just different

    You’ll probably find it easier to start with chin ups, due to the grip position the muscles around your elbow are working the most efficiently, so most people find this easier.

    People typically focus on chin ups to build the biceps and pull ups to strengthen the back. If you have experienced shoulder problems you may find it better to do chin ups instead.

    Like any good workout program you should be using a combination of techniques, so mix it up.

    Perform some reps with chin ups and others with pull ups, you could either mix your reps such as one rep of chin ups, one rep of pull ups, or spend one or two weeks concentrating on chin ups then swapping to a couple of weeks on pull ups, whatever works for you.

  8. chin up vs pull up topic 7

    Chin up Bar or Pull up Bar?

    Is there a difference between a chin up bar and a pull up bar?

    The terms are often used interchangeably but generally pull up bars will have multiple grip positions so you can vary your grip from standard shoulder width pronated (palms away) to neutral (palms facing each other) and wide grip pronated.

    If a bar only has one grip position this is often referred to as a chin up bar, although you could do standard pronated pull ups, there’s no way you could use a neutral or wide grip.

    Doorway chin up bars

    chin up bar

    These are typically telescopic and fit in your doorway either by slotting into brackets screwed to the inside of the door frame, or are simply held in place by the friction from extending them tightly against the door frame.

    Some of these telescopic chin up bars will even fit across a small hallway but be careful to cross-check the minimum and maximum extension of the bar against where ever you’re going to install it.

    Doorway Pull up Bars

    chin up muslces

    This type use your own body weight leveraged against the wall and doorway to keep the bar in place. These bars are great as you can very quickly put them up for a workout then tuck them out of the way under a bed again.

    There are two key problems people have with this type of bar:

    1. Marking the door frame if you have a soft wood – Simply remedied by putting a cloth / towel / spare socks between the bar and door frame
    2. Buying a bar that doesn’t fit any of your doorways – read our article Will the doorway pull up bar fit my doorway?

    For more on doorway pull up bars see the Doorway pull up bar guide

    Wall or Joist Mounted Pull Up Bars

    chin up muslces
    chin up muslces

    A Wall mounted pull up bar bolts directly onto either an external or stud wall, the fixing points are positioned the typical width of internal studs so they should fit your wall.

    For more details on wall hung bars see wall mounted pull up bar guide.

    Joist mounted pull up bars fix on to either and exposed joist such as you might have in a garage or a step in your ceiling.

    The fixings supplied with both this type of bar are not always the best, if in doubt grab yourself some more study screws.

    Doorway, joist and wall bars typically support the greatest weight as the door way chin up bars will bow in the middle if your weight approaches their maximum allowance.

    Choosing the right chin up / pull up bar for you

    The best chin up / pull up bar for you will depend on your own personal needs, check out our easy to use product comparison for pull up bars to find the right bar for you.