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Education • December 23, 2015

​Pull Ups VS Chin Ups: What's The Difference

Is one better than the other?

​Pull Ups VS Chin Ups: What's The Difference

Pull Ups and Chin Ups are the ultimate bodyweight exercises for building your upper body. Both are compound exercises targeting your back and your biceps.

Is one better than the other? What are the main differences?

Muscle activation

Experiments recorded the activation of the same muscle groups in both Chin Ups and Pull Ups.[1] The pulling pattern for both exercises is basically the same, however there is variation in the activation intensity of certain muscles.

Based on the range of motion and mechanics, Pull Ups place more emphasis on the lats and lower trapezius, while Chin Ups work more biceps and chest.


Why you should do both

Besides blasting the upper body, the pulling movements also work on the stabilizers of your core and back. The stabilization is an important factor for increasing the strength in other exercises and movements, such as lifting, throwing, fighting....Pull Ups and Chin Ups are awesome, here's why.

Whatever your goals or needs, remember that pulling exercises are a must in every balanced workout plan. Unless your training is extremely sport-specific, include both exercises regularly in your workouts.


How often should you train back? Workout plans for building muscle at home without equipment are available in the Madbarz Premium. Get yours and progress!


About the Pull Up:

Overhand grip – the palms of your hands facing away from the body.

Form tips:

  • Keep your chest open. Start the pull from your lats. Think about pulling your shoulder blades together and bringing chest towards the bar.
  • As you pull, the elbows should be moving down the sides of your body, not infront of you. Putting your arms and elbows infront of your body will make it easier to pull, but that's what Chin Ups are for.

About the Chin Up:

Underhand grip – the palms facing towards the body.

Form tips:

  • Again, the pull starts with your lats, not with your hands. When initiating the movement, imagine that your hands are hooks and that you are pulling from your elbows.
  • Don't shrug your shoulders. The arms are infront of the body but the shoulders stay back as you're pulling yourself up.

The basics for both movements

The chin has to reach over the bar for a full rep. Returning back down should be controlled to make use of the eccentric portion of the movement as well. Never let your body just drop down, it places unnecessary stress on your shoulders.

Already strong in the Pull Ups and Chin Ups? It's time to do the Muscle Up.

Takeaway: Whether you weigh more or less, pulling your own bodyweight against the force of gravity shows you how strong you really are. It doesn't matter if you choose Pull Ups or Chin Ups, what matters is to do them right.

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Post a comment

  • Ramon Melgar 25 workouts (level 8)
    March 21, 2016
  • CHARLES LONON 107 workouts (level 36)
    Yes, you have to work both to get your body to reach it's fullest potential. February 07, 2016
  • Bilal Bernardot 109 workouts (level 41)
    Chest for chin ups? what the hell..? January 22, 2016
  • jsantiago 6 workouts (level 4)
    I've been doing these exercises since I was a kid, and now my son is doing them and seeing the results. Awesome January 05, 2016
  • Madbarz Admin 111 workouts (level 10)
    @elite2 thanks for pointing out, it was a typo and it's fixed now ;) December 28, 2015