Chin Ups Vs Pull Ups: And The Winner Is…

by Jeff on May 13, 2011

The Difference In Hand Position

Chin ups: Your palms are facing you. Your hands are generally closer together during the movement. It is mostly performed on a straight bar. A variation of the pull up grip involves the palms facing each other:

Pull Ups: Your palms are facing away from you. Your hands are generally further apart during the movement. It is performed on straight parts and bars that are angled downwards to put even more emphasis on your lat muscles and teres major (the teres major muscles creates the widest point of your back):

The first photo of this post illustrates a wide grip pull up where the grip is angled downwards.

Different Muscles Worked

The two exercises mostly use the same set of muscles. However, the chin up and pull up puts different emphasis on different muscle groups.

Chin ups: the majority of work is done by your lat muscles and biceps.

Pull ups: your your lats and teres major muscles do most of the work (the teres major muscles creates the wides point of your back). A lot of bicep work has been taken away in this exercise.

Range of Motion

Range of motion is extremely important when you’re working out to build muscle or strength, it makes a significant difference. Chin ups have a larger range of motion. You want to have the largest range of motion (without risk of injury) to maximize muscle and strength development.

Chin Ups Vs Pull Ups…Who Wins?

It depends on what you want.

Pull ups and Chin ups are compound exercises, they work multiple muscle groups. Compound exercises are most effective at helping you build more strength. For an effective compound exercise, you want to work the biggest muscle groups and also have a large range of motion.

Pull ups are superior at developing the lats and teres major muscles. Chin ups has a higher range of motion and it develops your biceps more.

They’re both great and you should do both. Once you can do 8 in a row, add some weights. At first you can hold a dumbbell between your legs. But once the weight reaches over 25 pounds, it can become difficult to hold. At this point, you should consider investing in a weighted chin up/dip belt.


In my next post, I will be talking more about chin ups and pull ups. The topics include:

  1. How To Do Your First Chin up/Pull-up
  2. How Chin up/Pull-up Fits Into Your Workouts
  3. Powerful Tips to Help Increase Your Chin Up/Pull-up

If you’re doing pull ups or chin ups, but you can’t feel your back muscles working, it means the muscles aren’t activating properly. When your muscles aren’t activating and doing the work, they can’t develop properly. I know this is what happened to me when I started doing pull ups and chin ups.

In one of my tips, I will be talking about the importance of muscle activation. This simple fix can dramatically help you build more strength and muscle. If you’re doing an exercise and you can’t feel the muscle that is supposed to be worked, this will solve that problem. You can apply this to any muscle that isn’t activating and experience a boost in your development.

To read it, check out How To Do A Chin Up And How To Do A Pullup

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