Pull ups are known as one of the most difficult bodyweight exercises. Irrespective of your level of strength and stamina, the movement itself will always be a pretty grueling challenge. However, there are a lot of benefits of this exercise.
On the other hand, chin ups require a slightly different form and are just as intense. Both exercises target the major muscle groups, like the upper back and lats, the chest and your arms.
Target these muscle groups on a regular basis, and you'll have a thicker back, not to mention a wider torso – two critical components of an impressive physique.
So what are the differences?
Chin up and pull ups are different variations of basically the same exercise. Pull ups require the overhand (pronated) grip on the monkey bar while chin ups need an underhand (supinated) grip.
For pull ups, your total grip width should be a few inches more than your shoulder width. For chin ups, the grip should not exceed your shoulder width.
Although both variations focus on building the same muscle groups – the back, laterals, and biceps, the exercises differ in the way they target these areas. Simply put, pull ups utilize shoulder adduction. With a wider grip, your elbows will shoot down and back at the sides.
However, in chin ups, you will notice that your elbows will come right back down in front because of the supinated grip. The difference is slight when you talk about muscle building. But it is strongly recommended that you perform these exercises alternative for a stronger back.
The chin up grip fully utilizes the power of your biceps. That is why you can pull off more chin up repetitions compared to pull ups, which applies to a majority of bodybuilders and athletes. For example, if you can perform around 12 chin up reps, you will only be able to do eight pull ups.
The same goes with when you use a lat pulldown machine. With the chin up grip and the added weight, you will be able to perform more repetitions compared to a more pronated grip.
As mentioned, both exercises focus on targeting the same muscles. However, it is important to understand that there are subtle differences in the way you train those muscles.
For example, as chin up utilize a lot of arm strength, the exercise will target your biceps more compared to pull ups. On the other hand, when you perform pull ups, you won't feel a lot of blood pumping in your arms. You will feel the brunt of the force on your lats and upper and mid-back.
So there you go – a breakdown of both pull ups and chin ups. It isn't wise to assume the effectiveness of one variation over another. Both exercises are great, and you should perform them alternatively.