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Chin Up Vs. Pull Up

Rujuta Borkar Mar 2, 2020
What is the difference between a chin up and a pull up? Or is there no difference? This story will give you some more details and help you clear the concept.
If we were at a gym and the question of whether to do chin ups or pull up was raised, then which would be a better option to choose? To answer that question, we will need to know what chin ups and pull ups are. Which is what we will get to the bottom of in the following article.

The Differences

What is the difference between chin ups and pull ups? And what are the similarities? Both these forms of exercises are an excellent choice for working on one's torso. In this form of exercise, one faces a bar and lifts themselves up till their chin goes above the bar. In this technique they are similar, but the difference lies in the grip.
In chin ups, the palms face towards you and the distance between them is narrower, while in pull ups, the palms are faced away from you and the distance in the space of hands is wider.


It will be wrong to say that only a particular type of exercise is more advantageous, because each of these have their own advantages. Pull up exercises will work more on one's back, while chin ups work more on the biceps. It is generally much more harder to do pull ups than chin ups.
Apart from working on the upper body, these forms of exercises also work on muscle building, increasing grappling strength, improving shoulder health, and improving overall body strength.
There are several variations in these two exercises. Some examples are―'neutral grip', where the palms face each other. This is considered to be the most difficult exercise of them all. There's the 'thumbless grip', 'fat bar', 'mixed grip', 'horizontal', 'towel', 'kipping', and more. Each of these brings about a variation that will help one work with different degrees of difficulty and therefore work the muscles better.

Exercises Forms

The correct position to assume when doing either of the two exercises is to start out with your arms straight. Make sure that you breathe before you lift yourself up and always thrust your chest in the front, keep your shoulders pulled back, and your elbows pointing down.
Trace your path of ascending and do not look down. When you hang on the bar, your legs should be bent and never allowed to hang in the air. Make sure that you go all the way up and do not stop midway.
If, at first, you cannot handle this, just keep at it and the strength will eventually build up. Which will then allow you to foray into variations of both these forms of exercises. Here are some workout variations that you can use:

Exercise # 1

  • Keep your palms facing up and maintain a distance of 4-6 inches in between the hands.
  • Now, use the techniques mentioned above, that is, breathe when you're coming up, keep your shoulders away and chest facing forward, elbows to the ground and lift yourself up.
  • This focuses on improving your elbow strength, the torso, upper arms strength, and works as an excellent biceps exercise too.

Exercise # 2

  • In this exercise, the torso is pulled back throughout the entire exercise.
  • Start off with a normal chin up exercise with a variation in the distance of the grip maintained. It could either be close together or with a considerable distance.
  • Now, pull yourself up and while doing that, take your head away from the bar as much as possible and arch your spine.
  • Go on up till your collarbones go past the bar and the base of the collarbones touches it.
  • Remember that the head is away from the bar almost parallel to the floor and the hips and legs are at a 45 degree angle to the body.
  • This is an excellent exercise because it works on the back, arms, and abdomen to a great degree.

Exercise # 3

  • In this variation of the pull up workout, keep your palms at a distance of 20 inches away from each other and pull up (following all the pointers mentioned above) till the upper pecs (just above the chest) touches the bar.
  • When you reach there, pull your body back and push yourself away from the bar.
  • Now, begin to lower yourself with calculated movements. It has to be a slow and controlled movement rather than a fast, single motion.
  • This will work excellently on your subscapularis muscles (muscle in the shoulder joint) and strengthens your arms in addition to the upper body, and it's a great shoulder exercise as well.
Chin up Vs. pull up is not really an issue for an athlete because it is only a combination and variation of these two exercises that will lend him an advantage. And now that you know, you can contact your gym instructor for a specialized exercise program for you.