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Pull Ups Vs. Chin Ups: What's the Difference

Pull-ups and chin-ups are similar workouts with slight technique differences. Read more to find the main difference, how to perform each of them, the muscles they work, and more.

Steven Hill
Pull Ups Vs. Chin Ups: What's the Difference
Table Of Contents

Chinups and pullups are popular bodyweight movements helpful in building stronger upper-body muscles. These training moves are similar as both involve hanging from a horizontal bar and pulling yourself upward until your upper chest touches the bar. However, what makes these exercises different is the gripping technique.

This may seem to be a minimal difference, but the slight change in gripping influences the muscles worked during the exercise. Let’s dig in deeper to further understand the difference in the technique in more detail. We will also examine how each exercise is performed and more.

What’s the Main Difference Between Pull Ups & Chin Ups?

Pull-ups and chin-ups are popular bodyweight exercises that involve pulling your body toward a bar. The main difference is how you grip the bar during the exercise.

Pull-ups involve an overhand, or pronated, grip with your palms facing away from you and your arms slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Conversely, chin-ups involve an underhand, or supinated, grip with your palms facing towards you and your arms slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart.

Both exercises work similar muscle groups in the back, shoulders, biceps, and core. However, because of the different grips associated with each exercise, they activate the muscles differently.

Pull-ups target the back muscles more than chin-ups, while chin-ups typically activate the biceps more. Depending on your goals, you can use either exercise to help build strength and muscle mass in these areas.

Primarily, they target the latissimus dorsi (or lats), the large triangular muscles in your back. Other muscles used during chin-ups/pull-ups include:

Biceps Brachii

The biceps brachii runs along the front of the upper arm and is one of the most well-known muscles in the body. It helps with elbow flexion or bending your arms during chin-ups.


The trapezius muscle, also known as the “trap”, is a large triangular muscle that runs from your neck to your lower back. It helps stabilize your shoulder blades during chin-ups and is also used in shrugging motions.


The rhomboid muscles are located between the shoulder blades and help pull them together during chin-ups/pull-ups.

Pectoralis Major/Minor

The pectoralis major and minor, or “pecs,” are the muscles in your chest. They help stabilize your upper body during chin-ups and pull-ups.


The deltoids, commonly called “shoulders”, are the rounded muscles at the top of your arms. They help stabilize your arms during chin-ups/pull-ups.


The brachialis is a smaller muscle located below the biceps brachii and helps with elbow flexion during chin-ups/pull-ups.

Rectus Abdominis

The rectus abdominis, or “abs,” is the large muscle that runs down the front of your abdomen. It helps to stabilize your core during chin-ups/pull-ups.

Serratus Anterior

The serratus anterior is a small muscle located below the shoulder blades. It helps to stabilize your shoulder blades during chin-ups/pull-ups.

Triceps Brachii

The triceps brachii, or “triceps,” are the muscles on your upper arm's back. They help extend your elbows straight during chin-ups/pull-ups.

Erector Spinae

The erector spinae is a set of muscles that run along your spine and help stabilize your trunk during chin-ups/pull-ups.

Forearm Muscles

Various forearm muscles help keep your grip secure during chin-ups/pull-ups, including the flexor carpi radialis and ulnar.

How to Do Pull-ups Correctly?

When done correctly, pull-ups can help improve posture and mobility and build muscle mass. Here are some tips to make sure you do them safely and effectively.

  • The form is essential – keep your body straight from head to toe. Make sure you’re not arching your back or swaying to one side.
  • Grip the bar with an overhand grip, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your elbows close to your body and pull up until your chin is above the bar. Lower yourself slowly and in control.
  • Keep your core engaged and your abdominals tight throughout the exercise.
  • Aim to do 3 sets of 8-12 reps with a minute rest between each set.
  • If you need help, use an assisted pull-up machine or even have a spotter provide support by pulling on your legs as you pull up. You can also use a pull-up resistance band for added challenges.
  • Remember to take time and focus on the proper form to prevent injury. With practice, you’ll be doing pull-ups like a pro in no time!

What Benefits Do Pull Ups Offer?

Pull Ups offer a list of fitness benefits for improved overall health. Take a look and get more motivated to add exercise to your work routine.

Improved Muscle Tone

Pullups engage the arms, back, shoulders, and core muscles. This increases muscle tone in these areas while strengthening the upper body.

Increased Upper Body Strength & Mobility

Pull-ups increase upper body strength more than any other single exercise by working so many muscle groups simultaneously. Furthermore, pull-ups improve the range of motion and flexibility in the back, shoulders, and arms. This can help with everyday activities and prevent injuries in these areas.

Better Posture

Pull Ups strengthen the back muscles, which in turn can improve posture and reduce lower back pain. Additionally, pull-ups engage the entire body, providing an excellent cardiovascular workout at high intensity or for multiple sets.

Improve Core & Grip Strength

The core is engaged throughout a pullup exercise, so it helps build stability and strength in this area. Pull Ups require you to grip the bar firmly to stay in position so that they can improve grip strength.

Enhanced Mental Strength & Better Physique

Pulling your body weight up against gravity requires excellent focus and mental strength, which can also be beneficial in other areas of life. Moreover, pull-ups can help reduce body fat and increase lean muscle mass, leading to a more toned and aesthetically pleasing physique.

How to Do Chin-Ups Correctly?

Regular chin-ups can help build stronger arms and back muscles and improve grip strength. Following these steps will ensure you perform chin-ups with the correct form safely and effectively. Enjoy the benefits of this timeless exercise!

  • Start by standing directly underneath the chin-up bar with both hands gripping the bar, palms facing towards you, and shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your body straight, and legs slightly bent. This is the starting position for a chin-up.
  • Pull yourself up to the bar slowly and steadily until your chin is over the bar. Avoid using momentum to get you up and stay in control throughout the movement.
  • Hold this position for a couple of seconds, and then slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position.
  • Repeat this process 8-12 times for one set, with 1-2 minutes rest between sets.
  • Ensure that your back and abs stay tight throughout the exercise to maximize results and minimize the risk of injury.
  • Remember to keep your elbows close to your body for maximum effectiveness. Also, it is recommended to use elbow wraps to protect your joints.
  • Once you can easily complete multiple sets of 8-12 chin-ups, add weight or resistance bands to increase the difficulty of your workout.

Benefits of Doing Chin Ups Regularly

If you want to compare the advantages that you may get from pull-ups with that of doing chin ups, take a look.

Strengthens the Back & Arm Muscles

Chin Ups help strengthen the upper back muscles, including the rhomboids and trapezius. This can improve posture, improve spine health, and reduce lower back pain. Besides that, chin ups require you to pull your body weight, which develops the strength of your arms, shoulders, and biceps.

Improves Grip Strength & Core Muscles

Chinups demand you to hang from a bar and often use an overhand grip. This can help to improve the strength of your hands and forearms. Additionally, chin ups are an excellent way to target your abdominal muscles, as they require you to engage your core muscles to perform the exercise.

Increases Physical Endurance

By regularly performing chinups, your body will become better adapted to dealing with strenuous activity and physical exertion. This can help you become more physically fit and increase your overall endurance.

Mental Benefits

Chinups can also have a positive effect on mental well-being. This exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety while boosting self-confidence and improving overall mood.

Improves Functional Strength

Chinups are ideal for those looking to increase their overall functional strength. This exercise helps train the muscles in everyday activities such as lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling.

Calorie Burning

Chin Ups are a great way to burn calories, as they require engaging multiple muscle groups and can be performed at a relatively high intensity. This can help you reach your weight loss goals faster.


1. Which is more challenging? Chin ups or pull ups?

Pull-ups are generally considered more challenging because they require more bodyweight support from your arms and shoulders. In addition, the pronated grip associated with pull-ups may cause some people's wrists to become strained. Chin-ups are generally easier than pull-ups and offer a bit of extra wrist support due to the supinated grip.

2. Pull ups and chin ups? Which is better?

Both pull-ups and chin-ups are excellent bodyweight exercises for building strength and muscle in your back, shoulders, biceps, and core. Depending on your goals, either exercise can be beneficial. However, pull-ups may be the best option for you if you're looking for a challenge.

Chin-ups may be a better option if you have wrist issues or are just starting with bodyweight exercises. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which exercise is best for your fitness journey.

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Steven Hill

Steven is a passionate health & fitness writer. Steven has considerable research experience, but also enjoys writing nutrition and workout articles for general readership. Today, it's easy to find health and wellness information. People use many different sites to get the information they ne

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