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Pull-Up vs. Chin-Up: Which Is Better for Bodybuilders?

The pull-up and chin-up are excellent exercises for developing strength and muscle in your back, shoulders, and arms. Pull-ups and Chin-ups are the antagonist exercise to push-ups. If you don’t have weights and use a push/pull workout to maintain muscle symmetry, you need to do pull-ups or chin-ups to complement your push-ups.

muscular man lats pull ups gym. pull-up chin-up

It is possible to use push-ups, pull-ups, and chin-ups to work the entire upper body. Now all you need to do is add a lower body exercise to complete a bodyweight workout. We suggest wall-sits and supersets of body squats and lunges. The exercises mentioned above, combined with a calorie surplus protein-based diet, make it possible to create an impressively muscular body. But we are not here to talk about bodyweight workouts, even though we will provide you with one later. So let’s get back on task and consider which is better for your workout, the pull-up or chin-up.

First, you need to know a few moves reign supreme for working your upper body, like the pull-up and the chin-up. Both exercises target your back and shoulder muscles, using slightly different handgrips. But which one is better? It’s a question that we have debated for years, but there is no simple answer. So this article will look at the differences between these two exercises and help you decide which one is right for you.

Why Would You Add Pull-Ups to Your Workout?

The pull-up is one of the most classic exercises out there. It’s a simple move that anyone can do with a bar, and it’s an excellent way to build a muscular back and shoulders. To do a pull-up, grasp the bar with an overhand grip and shoulder width apart. Then pull until your chin is over the bar. Finally, with pull-ups, your elbows are further away from your body. Unlike the push-up, the pull-up requires you to lift 100% of your body weight. With push-ups, you lift 69.16% of your body weight with the concentric move and 75.04% with the eccentric move.

But if you cannot do a push-up and need to use a modified push-up, then you lift 53.56% of your body weight with the upward move and 61.08% of your body weight with the downward move, according to research completed by the cooper institute. The weight you lift determines the volume of the work you do. The volume formula multiplies weight, reps, and sets together to give you one number that tells you how you are progressing. Progressive overload is a principle that we use to grow muscles. Thus to build muscle, you must slowly increase the volume of your workouts over time. The more weight you lift, the more muscular you become.

Muscles –

The pull-up is an excellent exercise for targeting your latissimus dorsi, the large muscles in your back. Also, this move works the trapezius, deltoids, and pecs as secondary muscles. Pull-ups can also target your inner lats when done with a wide grip. But what sets this exercise apart from the chin-ups is the special attention given to the posterior shoulder muscle. Also, this may not seem important, but push-ups only work the anterior shoulder, so don’t count on them to give you a complete shoulder workout. Thus, you can combine push-ups with pull-ups to build bigger shoulders as you develop the chest and back.

Why Would You Add Chin-Ups to Your Workout?

The chin-up is like the pull-up but uses a different hand position and range of motion. To do a chin-up, grasp the bar with an underhand grip and your hands about 6 inches apart. Then pull until your chin is over the bar. Also, with the chin-ups, your elbows are closer to your body. While doing chin-ups, make sure you maintain a vertical alignment. Thus, a vertical alignment is essential for core development.

Many lean or sway when performing this exercise, but that is a mistake. While swaying and leaning allow you to do more chin-ups, making the work easier for the muscles. The last thing you want to do in a workout is to work a muscle less and not more. Finally, when performing any exercise correctly, you get the most benefits and work the muscles you intended to work.

Muscles –

The chin-up is a great exercise for targeting your latissimus dorsi, trapezius, and anterior deltoids. But what sets this exercise apart from the pull-ups is the special attention given to the bicep. Chin-ups can also target your inner biceps when done with a close grip. The biceps are the primary reason many people choose chin-ups. Few bodyweight exercises give the biceps the attention they need, like the chin-up. You can always use dumbbell exercises to develop the bicep, but that requires adding more exercises to a workout. Also, if you are doing a bodyweight workout, adding weights changes the functionality of the workout, and it is no longer a bodyweight workout.

So Which Is Better for Your Workout, Pull-Ups vs. Chin-Ups?

This question largely depends on your goals and what muscles you want to target. For example, the pull-up is better if you look for overall strength and muscle development. However, the chin-up is better if you’re looking to target your biceps specifically. Of course, you can always be innovative and do both by rotating between sets. For example, a rotation would allow you to alternate between targeting the biceps and shoulders while working out all muscle groups.

Next, we will provide a full-body workout that you can use to conserve time and energy. While it may seem like a good idea not to conserve energy, we are not referring to the energy used to work the muscle. The energy we are concerned about is the energy that is required to work the nervous system. An overtaxed nervous system has destroyed many fitness goals. Try this workout and feel free to adjust the sets, reps, and rest time to reach your fitness goals better.

Bodyweight Workout –

  • Push-ups – 4 sets, max reps, 30-second rest
  • Chin-ups – 3 sets, max reps, 30-second rest
  • Wall Sits –  4 sets, 1 – 2 minutes reps, 30-second rest
  • Pull-ups – 3 sets, max reps, 30-second rest
  • Superset: Squats/Lunges – 4 sets, 1 -2 minutes reps, 30-second rest
  • Arm Circles – 3 sets, 1 – 2 minutes reps,  30-second rest
  • Leg Lifts – 4 sets, 1 – 2 minutes reps, 30-second rest

Note: Perform the compound lifts first and alternate between muscle groups. For example, do the back and then the legs.

Thus, this will give your muscles a chance to rest. But it will still tax your nervous system, which controls your hormones and metabolism. The nervous system activates the hormones you need to build muscle along with a calorie surplus high protein diet. Also, with the leg lifts, you can make them more challenging by adding kicks, circles, or scissors. Each variation with leg lifts works different muscles, so choose wisely.

The Last Word on Which Is Better for Bodybuilders, Pull-Ups vs. Chin-Ups

Pull-ups and chin-ups are excellent exercises that can help you build strength and muscle in your upper body. They also give you some flexibility with your workout program. However, while each exercise has its benefits, you must also consider how that exercise complements your workout program and fitness goals. For example, chin-ups become more critical when you can’t afford to add a bicep exercise to your workout due to time or energy restrictions.

Also, consider your diet, progressive overload, periodization, and a rest and recovery plan when determining which workout you want to do. Finally, a good workout program should be changed every 4 to 6 weeks, depending on how fast your body adapts. You can always add more sets, reps, and variations to exercises or create a new workout to reach your fitness goals faster. If you’re unsure which one is right for you, try doing both and see which one you prefer. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to do both pull-ups and chin-ups like a pro! What has been your experience with pull-ups and chin-ups? Please share your response in the comment section below.

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