The pull up bar is widely recognized for being one of the most effective pieces of home gym equipment that improves total upper body strength. Even though a pull up bar can be used for a number of different exercises, the most common are the pull up and chin up. These two are sometimes considered the same thing but they are slightly different and focus on different muscle groups.
These two bodyweight exercises consist of initially suspending from a pull up bar or similar device then pulling your whole body up until your chin goes just over the bar. Some people will recommend lifting the chest to the bar but there is a distinction between these two exercises, even though in essence they are very similar.
So what’s the difference between a pull up and a chin up?
Its all about the hand grip. A pull up is performed by holding the bar with the arms extended up and the hands facing away from you. The exercise targets upper body muscles, mainly the back, which could be one explanation why it can be so hard. The chin up is performed in the same way, except that the hands are facing towards you. This change of hand position alters the main muscles exercised. In essence, the type of hand hold modifies the main muscles used. Chin ups focus somewhat more on the biceps and shoulders, which explains why it can be much less difficult to carry out. As its slightly less difficult to perform, you should be able to do more reps. Especially if you are new to chin up or pull up exercises.
Is one better than the other?
In general, the pull up can be the more challenging exercise because you don’t have the added advantage of using your biceps.
But in reality, one isn’t better than the other. They are just different upper body exercises that target a lot of similar muscles, but depending on the hand grip, other muscles are targeted. If you are just beginning an exercise routine, do the one that’s easiest for you and the build up to incorporating both types in your workout routine. Don’t be mistaken though, the chin up is every bit as beneficial as the pull up even though it is slightly easier. Just do more reps for the same benefit 🙂
Regardless of whether you prefer pull ups or chin ups, you will definitely benefit from both these amazing exercises. Adding pull ups and chin ups into your workouts will undoubtedly help you on the road to significantly better upper body strength.
We have a comprehensive guide to the different types of pull up bars and our recommendations here.