Chin up vs Pull up

When it comes to bodyweight training pull ups and chin ups are two of the first exercises that people think of within the calisthenics range.

Even powerlifters will speak about the importance of pull ups and chin ups for muscle and strength building.

So if we were to pit these two exercises against each other which would come out on top? Which muscles do pull ups work and which muscles do chin ups work?

We’ll take a look at each exercise extensively in this article and find out which is more effective, pull ups vs chin ups.

 

Pull ups

What muscles do pulls ups work?

Pull ups heavily focus on the back, forearm and shoulder muscles. The chest, neck and biceps are also involved but they don’t play as big a part as the back, forearm or shoulder muscles.

Back

Pull ups may just be the ultimate back exercise. They manage to cover a whole range of muscles from such a simple yet effective movement. The back muscles used include;

– Trapezius – This is a muscle in the upper middle region of the back that connects to the neck. This muscle can give the traps a real boost by enhancing the V shape so many men strive for as it’s a real t-shirt filler.

– Rhomboids – This muscle sits in a similar region but slightly lower than the trapezius.

– Latissimus dorsi – The famous lats or wings as some people call them. If you’re looking to add thickness and width to your frame, specifically your back, then the lats are a great area to target and pull ups are perfect for achieving this.

– Teres Major – A small muscle beneath the shoulder this adds an extra element of perceived thickness to any man’s frame.

Forearms

Forearms would surprise many people. It’s not an area of the body that many train or think of targeting. Pull ups however are great for increasing forearm strength and size.

Shoulders

Having wide shoulders is a main marker of an impressive male physique. Pull ups target the deltoids and the infraspinatus, a muscle just above the lats and positioned at the back of the shoulder. Pull ups are great for adding width and thickness to shoulder muscles due to their rotation and range needed in each rep.

Chest

Although it can feel as though all of the weight is distriputed across the back and the arms, your pecs are surprisingly involved in a pull up. The pectoralis major and minor which are large and small muscles that make up your pecs get worked.

The subscapularis is another muscle in the upper chest that gets worked. This muscle is connected to the shoulder and bridges across the upper chest. If you arch your back through the lift pointing your chest slightly more skyward, you’ll really work the subscapularis muscle.

Biceps

Biceps get a well-rounded workout when performing a pull up. The branchii, branchialis and branchioradialis are all engage during a pull up motion. This makes a pull up a great way to improve arm size when combined with the forearm benefits.

Neck

Another muscle group that very few people ever think about are the neck muscles. It’s true that over time lifting weights will increase neck muscles and size. However if you want to speed that up you’ll be happy to learn that pull ups do a great job of building your neck muscles. Stability is a big part of this, so is the contraction that happens at the top of the pull up repetition.

Abs & Obliques

Your abs and obliques will be worked in most exercises as they are stabilising muscles. It’s no different for the pull up. Your abs and obliques will try hard to keep not only your torso level, but your legs from swinging back and forth. This is why you tend to see a loss in form during later reps, notably legs swinging during the highest part of the pull up.

Chin ups

What muscles do chin ups work?

It’s strange to think that a slight difference in grip can impact which muscles are worked most. But that’s what happens when you change from a pull up to a chin up.

Chin ups impact less muscles than pull ups, but the one’s that are involved tend to be more affected.

Back

Chin ups are just like pull ups, they call upon multiple back muscles all at once. Including;

– Latissimus dorsi – Again we’re talking about the lats/wings, a very large part of the back that adds major width.

– Lower trapezius – The lower trapezius is around halfway down the middle of the back on either side of the spine. By building this muscle up you add strength to the lower back and avoid that sloping curved spine appearance that men want to avoid.

– Rhomboid major and minor – These muscles connect the upper mid-back either side of the spine to the neck. This region of the back is vital for giving the appearance of a large wide back. Combined with the lower trapezius the centre of the back really gets a pumped up makeover from chin ups.

– Teres major – Just like pull ups, the chin up targets the teres major, the small muscle positioned between the lats and the shoulder.This muscle adds to the wing appearance that men chase.

Biceps

In studies it has been found that the chin up is the 3rd most effective exercise for biceps behind barbell curls and preacher curls. Actor Jason Statham claims that pull ups are the best exercise for biceps and his personal favourite when building biceps for big films.

Chest

Chest muscles aren’t really activated for chin-ups like they are for pull ups. Chin ups focus heavily on the back muscles and biceps. The chest muscles are of course used but minimally.

Abs & Obliques

Chin ups are fantastic for six pack abs. Again it works exactly the same as pull ups. In order to keep the body aligned and the legs from swinging, the abs and obliques need to be engaged.

Which is better pull up vs chin up?

It would be hard to claim that anyone should just do one, either the pull up or a chin up. Looking at the range of muscular benefits it’s obvious to understand that you should be doing both. It’s important in any area of building muscle to change your grip in order to work different muscle groups. The pull up and the chin up are great exercises for building muscle in a range of areas.

However there are some obvious differences if you want to make your training specific to the growth of certain areas of the body.

Pull ups are superb when it comes to building up your back muscles. In fact anyone looking to build their back muscles should opt to double up on pull ups rather than throwing in any chin ups.

The same goes for chest muscles or pecs. If this is an area of the body that you’re looking to target then pull ups are the better option.

When it comes to biceps however there’s no comparison, chin ups are unrivalled. They build the biceps like only two other exercises can.

 

Other benefits from pull ups and chin ups

The benefits received from pull ups and chin ups don’t stop there. There are multiple other benefits including;

– A great way to bulk up when you perform weighted pull ups and weighted chin ups.

– Bodyweight exercises burn a lot of calories which make them a great way to lose fat.

– Building functional and practical muscle is another benefit of pull ups and chin ups. There are many people with large muscles, but very few who can move efficiently.

– Due to the way pull ups and chin ups target shoulder and back muscles, one’s posture improves greatly.

– Improved grip strength

– Sometimes it’s hard to build a proportionate body. Pull ups and chin ups target so many areas of the body that it makes that job a little easier and allows you to build a more proportionate upper body.

 

 

Assisted chin ups and pull ups for beginners

If you like the sound of these benefits but cannot do a pull up, then you can use the assisted machine in your gym. This machine enables you to place your knees on a pad, set a counter weight and make the pull ups or chin ups far easier to complete.

If your gym does not have an assisted machine, then you can wrap resistance bands around the bar and under your feet or knees to perform resistance band pull ups or chin ups.

 

Chin up vs Pull up

When it comes to bodyweight training pull ups and chin ups are two of the first exercises that people think of.

Even powerlifters will speak about the importance of pull ups and chin ups for muscle and strength building.

So if we were to pit these two exercises against each other which would come out on top? Which muscles do pull ups work and which muscles do chin ups work?

We’ll take a look at each exercise extensively in this article and find out which is more effective, pull ups vs chin ups.

 

What muscles do pulls ups work?

Pull ups heavily focus on the back, forearm and shoulder muscles. The chest, neck and biceps are also involved but they don’t play as big a part as the back, forearm or shoulder muscles.

Back

Pull ups may just be the ultimate back exercise. They manage to cover a whole range of muscles from such a simple yet effective movement. The back muscles used include;

– Trapezius – This is a muscle in the upper middle region of the back that connects to the neck. This muscle can give the traps a real boost by enhancing the V shape so many men strive for as it’s a real t-shirt filler.

– Rhomboids – This muscle sits in a similar region but slightly lower than the trapezius.

– Latissimus dorsi – The famous lats or wings as some people call them. If you’re looking to add thickness and width to your frame, specifically your back, then the lats are a great area to target and pull ups are perfect for achieving this.

– Teres Major – A small muscle beneath the shoulder this adds an extra element of perceived thickness to any man’s frame.

Forearms

Forearms would surprise many people. It’s not an area of the body that many train or think of targeting. Pull ups however are great for increasing forearm strength and size.

Shoulders

Having wide shoulders is a main marker of an impressive male physique. Pull ups target the deltoids and the infraspinatus, a muscle just above the lats and positioned at the back of the shoulder. Pull ups are great for adding width and thickness to shoulder muscles due to their rotation and range needed in each rep.

Chest

Although it can feel as though all of the weight is distriputed across the back and the arms, your pecs are surprisingly involved in a pull up. The pectoralis major and minor which are large and small muscles that make up your pecs get worked.

The subscapularis is another muscle in the upper chest that gets worked. This muscle is connected to the shoulder and bridges across the upper chest. If you arch your back through the lift pointing your chest slightly more skyward, you’ll really work the subscapularis muscle.

Biceps

Biceps get a well-rounded workout when performing a pull up. The branchii, branchialis and branchioradialis are all engage during a pull up motion. This makes a pull up a great way to improve arm size when combined with the forearm benefits.

Neck

Another muscle group that very few people ever think about are the neck muscles. It’s true that over time lifting weights will increase neck muscles and size. However if you want to speed that up you’ll be happy to learn that pull ups do a great job of building your neck muscles. Stability is a big part of this, so is the contraction that happens at the top of the pull up repetition.

Abs & Obliques

Your abs and obliques will be worked in most exercises as they are stabilising muscles. It’s no different for the pull up. Your abs and obliques will try hard to keep not only your torso level, but your legs from swinging back and forth. This is why you tend to see a loss in form during later reps, notably legs swinging during the highest part of the pull up.

What muscles do chin ups work?

It’s strange to think that a slight difference in grip can impact which muscles are worked most. But that’s what happens when you change from a pull up to a chin up.

Chin ups impact less muscles than pull ups, but the one’s that are involved tend to be more affected.

Back

Chin ups are just like pull ups, they call upon multiple back muscles all at once. Including;

– Latissimus dorsi – Again we’re talking about the lats/wings, a very large part of the back that adds major width.

– Lower trapezius – The lower trapezius is around halfway down the middle of the back on either side of the spine. By building this muscle up you add strength to the lower back and avoid that sloping curved spine appearance that men want to avoid.

– Rhomboid major and minor – These muscles connect the upper mid-back either side of the spine to the neck. This region of the back is vital for giving the appearance of a large wide back. Combined with the lower trapezius the centre of the back really gets a pumped up makeover from chin ups.

– Teres major – Just like pull ups, the chin up targets the teres major, the small muscle positioned between the lats and the shoulder.This muscle adds to the wing appearance that men chase.

Biceps

In studies it has been found that the chin up is the 3rd most effective exercise for biceps behind barbell curls and preacher curls. Actor Jason Statham claims that pull ups are the best exercise for biceps and his personal favourite when building biceps for big films.

Chest

Chest muscles aren’t really activated for chin-ups like they are for pull ups. Chin ups focus heavily on the back muscles and biceps. The chest muscles are of course used but minimally.

Abs & Obliques

Chin ups are fantastic for six pack abs. Again it works exactly the same as pull ups. In order to keep the body aligned and the legs from swinging, the abs and obliques need to be engaged.

Which is better pull up vs chin up?

It would be hard to claim that anyone should just do one, either the pull up or a chin up. Looking at the range of muscular benefits it’s obvious to understand that you should be doing both. It’s important in any area of building muscle to change your grip in order to work different muscle groups. The pull up and the chin up are great exercises for building muscle in a range of areas.

However there are some obvious differences if you want to make your training specific to the growth of certain areas of the body.

Pull ups are superb when it comes to building up your back muscles. In fact anyone looking to build their back muscles should opt to double up on pull ups rather than throwing in any chin ups.

The same goes for chest muscles or pecs. If this is an area of the body that you’re looking to target then pull ups are the better option.

When it comes to biceps however there’s no comparison, chin ups are unrivalled. They build the biceps like only two other exercises can.

 

Other benefits from pull ups and chin ups

The benefits received from pull ups and chin ups don’t stop there. There are multiple other benefits including;

– A great way to bulk up when you perform weighted pull ups and weighted chin ups.

– Bodyweight exercises burn a lot of calories which make them a great way to lose fat.

– Building functional and practical muscle is another benefit of pull ups and chin ups. There are many people with large muscles, but very few who can move efficiently.

– Due to the way pull ups and chin ups target shoulder and back muscles, one’s posture improves greatly.

– Improved grip strength

– Sometimes it’s hard to build a proportionate body. Pull ups and chin ups target so many areas of the body that it makes that job a little easier and allows you to build a more proportionate upper body.

 

Assisted chin ups and pull ups for beginners

 If you like the sound of these benefits but cannot do a pull up, then you can use the assisted machine in your gym. This machine enables you to place your knees on a pad, set a counter weight and make the pull ups or chin ups far easier to complete.

If your gym does not have an assisted machine, then you can wrap resistance bands around the bar and under your feet or knees to perform resistance band pull ups or chin ups.

 

 

 

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!