Pull Ups
Last updated:  

Chin-Up vs Pull-Up Comparing the Differences

Ask any bodybuilder, personal trainer or coach and they will agree pull-ups and chin-ups are on the top of the list for strength training. Hands down, lat pull-downs, pull-ups, and chin-ups are the best exercises for developing strong muscles, powerful biceps, and back strength. Certainly, they will test your level of fitness!

A pull up bar is all that is needed to perform these two exercises.

Research shows the pull-up and chin-up are equally effective, what most people do not recognise is the two are not the same exercise. However, they do have many similarities. It is important to note, the results are different. It is these differences that determine which of the two exercises you should be applying.

Below we will discuss further on ‘How to do Pull-ups and Chin-ups’.

How you place the hands on the bar:

When executing a pull-up, your palms should face outward. In other words, your knuckles should face you. Additionally, the width of your grip should extend slightly past your shoulders.

Use an underhand grip to do a chin-up. Underhand means your fingers or palms are facing you and the grip is the same width as your shoulders.

Although these are the two most common grips, there are a couple more variations you can use such as the neutral grip. This is a chin-up grip in which the palms are facing one another. That’s ambitious for most of us to imagine, let alone accomplish. Nonetheless, continue reading to find out how to do a good pull-up and a chin-up.

How to Do Pull-Ups the Right Way

pull ups

  1. Start by gripping the pull-up bar. Remember, your palms should face away from you and your hands/grip just past your shoulders
  2. Placement is essential to the outcome. If your grip is too far, it makes the pull-up awkward and leaves you at risk for injury.
  3. Hang on to the bar, making certain your arms are straight and your legs are off the floor.
  4. Stop when your chin has reached just above the bar. At this point, your elbows should bend fully.
  5. Pull-up on the bar using your elbows. It should feel as though you’re pulling your
    elbows down to the floor.
  6. Finish by gradually lowering yourself until your arms return to the starting position.
  7. Be careful not to let your body rock or extend your elbows too far.

How to Do Chin-Ups the Right Way

  1. chin up vs pull upThe best approach is to place your hands firmly on the bar, palms in an underhand grip or facing you. Making sure your palms are shoulder-width apart.
  2. With your feet off the floor and elbows straight, use your upper arm strength to lift your body.
  3. Stop when your chin has reached just above the bar. At this point, your elbows should bend fully.
  4. Return your body to a resting position

If you’re just beginning, start slow. Do a pull-up or chin-up every minute or so.

After the second or third chin-up, wait a few minutes before doing another one. You should feel the burn and will be grateful for the rest in-between.

In a few days, attempt doing a couple of pull-ups or chin-ups in a row. Challenge yourself by doing two or three sets. If you really want to push yourself, try four sets of two!

The Differences Between Chin-Ups and Pull-Ups


Both methods are made up of vertical movements, working out the back, biceps, and lats. Pull-ups also involve shoulder movements and adduction.

When doing a pull-up, your elbows should come down and then back up from your sides. Similarly, if you do chin-ups, the elbows come down, then back from your front. Whilst the movements are similar, the muscles train differently during a pull-up.

With that said, if your goal is to develop and define the muscle groups and to grow stronger, it would probably be a great idea to incorporate both exercises in your regimen, alternating the two so they are effective.

Muscles Worked

Both exercises will train your biceps, back, and lats. However, depending on the grip, there are differences in the level to which they work the muscles. Grip width determines which muscles train the hardest.

A narrow grip will develop or strengthen your biceps, while a wide grip will not have much of an effect on your biceps.

Pull-ups will not strengthen your lower body as you do not use those muscles in the exercise. Makes sense, right? Pull-ups are vertical motions which work the upper body, mainly the upper-arms, rear shoulders and several muscles in the back.

Just so you’re clear, let’s discuss what muscles you will use in a pull-up.

The muscles in your stomach help to keep your back straight during the exercise. If your back arches out, you’re not doing it right. Maintain a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. This will help define those “six-pack” abs you imagine yourself having. By the way, don’t stop envisioning your new body. This is an essential part of your progress.
Biceps are an important part of the chin and pull-ups. There’s no way you can do either of these exercises without using your arms and elbows. However, biceps work the hardest performing chin-ups. Expect to feel the muscles come alive in your forearm as well.
Upper back
The latissimus dorsi is just a long word for ‘lats’. Lats are the muscles in your back which form the “v shape.” Strange how a letter forms in the back instead of your chest like regular heroes, huh? However, it’s super human to be positively different.


Most people can complete a chin-up rather than a pull-up. Because of the grip, they may accomplish more chin-ups than pull-ups. This is especially true of newbies or beginners. It’s doesn’t make you any less capable, so don’t let it bother you.

The more chin-ups you do, the better at them you’ll become. Eventually, you may surprise yourself at the level of strength you have. You can absolutely use leg weights with a chin-up to increase the challenge or resistance bands to support your body weigh. If this is the case, demand more of yourself each week and change your grip style.


Pull-ups and chin-ups work countless muscles in the upper body. By changing the way you hold the bar, you can work a specific muscle group harder than the rest. You want to balance your workout sessions to improve not only how you look, but performance levels.

Adnan Munye

A certified personal trainer, Adnan specialises in weight loss, muscle building, body conditioning, core strengthening and injury rehabilitation. Adnan comes from a sporting background, where he has played football, badminton, rugby, and swimming all at various levels.

Latest posts by Adnan Munye (see all)

You might also like