The chin up and pull up are both upper and target multiple muscle groups at once, and some people use their names interchangeably. But pull-ups are harder and target different muscle groups than chin-ups. So, why are pull ups harder than chin ups?
Pull-Ups are harder than chin-ups because of the grip difference. In pull-ups, you keep your hands wider than shoulder-width and lift your entire body, which becomes a bit hard. And in chin-ups, the same; however, your palms face are opposite, and your hands are directly above your shoulders, making them a bit easy.
Keep reading to find out why are pull ups harder than chin ups, the benefits of pull ups and chin ups, and how to do them properly.
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Why Are Pull Ups Harder Than Chin Ups?
Pull-ups are more difficult because most people have relatively underdeveloped latissimus dorsi, and it doesn’t help that pull-up isolate these muscles. In contrast, chin-ups make use of both biceps and lats. In other words, you perform pull-ups using mainly your lats, and you do chin-ups using both your lats and biceps, thus giving your lift more assistance.
The main muscles used in chin-ups are the biceps, while the lats are activated more with pull-ups.
What Are Pull Ups?
A pull-up is an upper-body strength training workout and is considered an advanced exercise. Pull-ups mainly work your back, shoulders, arms, and chest muscles.
How Do Pull-Ups for Beginners?
- Jump up and grasp the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart and your palms facing opposite from you.
- Maintain your shoulders back, and your core engaged throughout this rep. Then pull up.
- Move slowly upward until your chin passes the bar, then equally gradually downward until your arms are extended again.
- Aim to perform at least five pull-ups.
What Are Chin-Ups?
The chin-up is a strength training exercise, and they help strengthen muscles such as the latissimus dorsi and biceps.
In addition, chin-ups mainly target the biceps and back muscles. When performing a chin-up, usually the palms face towards the body. Try both to see which one suits you best.
How to Do a Chin-Up
- Grasp the bar with both your hands, with your palms facing you and arms shoulder-width separated.
- Pull yourself up til your chin is above the bar. You should maintain your elbows fully bent here.
- Pause for about a second.
- With a controlled motion, lower yourself back down until your arms are straight.
Chin Up vs. Pull Up: What are the Differences?
Both chin-ups and pull-ups target your biceps and back muscles, particularly the latissimus dorsi, the large and flat muscle covering the width of your middle and lower back and connecting the bone of the upper arm to the spine and the hip.
The major difference between chin-up and pull-up exercises is your hand placement. With chin-up workouts, your palm faces your chin using an underhand (supinated) grip, and in the pullup, your palm faces away from you in an overhand (pronated) grip.
An easy way I use to distinguish the main difference is to think about scratching my chin. When I scratch my chin, my palm faces me, and then I know that’s the chin up.
The chin up and pull up have a similar movement pattern and target almost the same muscle groups. However, the intensity varies slightly based on your hand position and how the body produces strength through a vertical pulling movement pattern.
In addition, both chin up and pull up are excellent exercises to build your upper body muscle. Each exercise targets various muscles, and you can use them both to improve forearm, arm, and back strength.
When performing chin-ups, you grip the bar with your palms facing you; however, you grip the bar with your palms facing away from you with pull-ups. Consequently, chin-ups better target the muscles on the front of your body, such as your biceps and chest, while pull-ups are more efficient at targeting your shoulder and back muscles.
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What Muscles Do Chin-Ups Work?
Research issued by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research analyzed the differences in muscle activation between the chin up and pull up.
The researchers observed that the primary muscles that worked (in a descending activation order) between the chin up and pull up are the followings:
- Biceps Brachii
- Lower Trapezius
- Pectoralis Major
- Erector Spinae
- External Oblique
The study also concluded that the biceps brachii and pec major were more active during the chin-up than the pullup, while the lower traps were more involved in the pullup.
Another study issued by the Journal of the International Society of Electrophysiological Kinesiology also analyzed the muscles worked in chin up and pull up and compared four different hand positions used in standard workout variations: pronated, supinated, neutral, and wide grip.
The study suggested that the traditional pronated pull-up results in higher middle trapezius activation.
Benefits of Pull Ups and Chin Ups
Both chin ups and pull ups have benefits; let’s discuss the most common advantages of both.
Both Pull-Ups And Chin-Ups Will Help You Build Extraordinary Strength
The strength you gain from performing pull-ups and chin-ups will help you better perform other challenging exercises such as rope climbing and handstand push-ups.
When you are doing a chin up or pull up, you lift your entire body mass with the movement, which improves your body strength and even improves your health.
Strength training is essential for improving bone development and improving cardiovascular health, found a study.
To get started and build muscle fast, do pull-ups four days a week and gradually increase reps in every session.
Both Pull-Ups And Chin-Ups Require Minimal to No Equipment
If you are busy, pull-ups and chin-ups are the perfect exercises for you because you can train your arms, shoulders, chest, and back muscles in a few minutes.
Both Pull-Ups And Chin-Ups Challenge Your Muscles
Chin-ups and pull-ups are challenging strength training exercises and, challenging your muscles with complex and challenging movements can improve your overall fitness level.
If you perform the same exercises repeatedly, your body can begin to plateau. But by adding in new and challenging exercises such as chin-ups and pull-ups, you may see significant improvement in your strength.
You Can Do Both Pull-Ups And Chin-Ups Anytime And Anywhere.
Whether you are traveling or the gyms are closed, you can still manage to do both pull-ups and chin-ups. You can do them at home, in a public park, or playground.
And if it is wintertime and you don’t want to go outside, you can buy a doorway pull-up bar on Amazon or build a chin-ups bar in your backyard.
Both Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups are Effective Cardio
Both pull-ups and chin-ups are excellent cardiovascular exercises. They boost your heart rate and can promote heart health when you perform them at high intensity.
Johns Hopkins research has found that pairing exercise with a clean Mediterranean-style diet, maintaining a standard weight, and not smoking is an excellent protection plan against coronary artery disease and vascular disease.
Both Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups Offer Several Variations
To avoid reaching a plateau, you can use variations of both pull-ups and chin-ups. Doing different variations builds muscle and strength fast, and progression is essential for building muscle and strength.
In addition, with pull-ups and chin-ups, you will never get bored because there are many variations of both chin-ups and pull-ups.
Start with the easy standard pull-up and chin-up and gradually add variation as you learn to perform them better and get stronger.
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Overall, the main reason why are pull ups harder than chin ups is because of the grip difference and muscles worked.
When doing chin-ups workouts, you grip the bar with your palms facing you; but, you grip the bar with your palms facing opposite from you with pull-ups.
Both chin-ups and pull-ups are great strength movements that use your entire body weight. They are also excellent ways to work your whole upper body and engage your core.
And finally, remember to always allow for a day in-between strength training recovery. Also, make sure you discuss with your doctor before beginning any new strength training routine.