Pull ups/Chin Ups

Discussion in 'Basic Training Principles and Methods' started by Totentanz, Feb 17, 2005.

  1. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    With pull ups and chins, is it best to have your palms facing you or facing away? I've been reading some stuff lately that seems to imply that doing them with an overhanded grip is basically useless and actually detrimental. However, for me, overhanded is harder than underhanded grip, which is why I prefer overhanded grip. Does this even make that much of a difference? I imagine with an overhanded grip, it targets the biceps less and hits the back more. My lats usually feel real tight after doing these, but I don't feel that tightness when I do it underhanded.

    Is there any advantage to using an underhanded grip? Should I consider alternating the grip between sets or should I just stick to the overhanded grip?
  2. Jake

    Jake New Member

    What you said- you answered your own question.

  3. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks, that's what I figured, but I wanted to make sure.
  4. savagebeast

    savagebeast New Member

    Experts, correct me if I'm wrong...

    Chin-Ups (palms facing you) are easier, meaning you can do more weight, because they use more muscles than Pull-Ups (palms facing away from you). In other words, it is a more compound movement. I believe Chin-Ups hit your lats just as hard as Pull-Ups do, assuming that you're using a little more weight because more muscles are involved. I think this is the same type of question as Ilfacell posed in his "Sternal vs. Clavicular" thread. The conclusion reached by that thread was that you can't emphasize a muscle by using a less compound movement, you can only de-emphasize muscle groups. For example, incline bench press actually hits the pecs less than regular bench press. However, by de-emphasizing certain parts of the pecs incline bench press allows you to "shape" your muscles to some extent. (You're not really shaping them, though, just changing the overall shape of the muscle by neglecting parts of it.) Same with wide vs. narrow dips: the triceps are hit either way, but doing them with a narrow grip reduces the weight you can use because it does not bring your pecs into play as much.

    The bottom line: Chin-Ups are superior to Pull-Ups because they hit more muscle groups. They work everything that Pull-Ups do just as hard, while hitting some additional muscle groups (namely the biceps).
  5. It comes down to what you classify as a chin up vs pull up.
    Looking at EXRX.net
    Chin Up
    Pull UP
    So according to them there is no difference
    Body Building.com
    Pull Up
    You can also read Charles Ridgley's article here on Chin/Pull ups and differing variations.

    To me a chin up is what that lovely blond ;) is doing
    a pull up has a close and reverse grip utilizing both the bicep and back.

    So call it what you will, just do 'em. [​IMG]
  6. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    Uh... maybe I'm wrong, but I'm confused on this. I thought a chin up was where you just bring your chin above the bar, and a pullup is where you bring your neck up to the bar, and that both can be done either over or underhanded. It is my understanding that over or underhanded grip is not what determines it, but how high you go...
  7. No, you are probably right. But is there any discernable difference between ROM in the two, I don't see it? But that's me and I could just be a foolish old man. I do however see the differnce in both ROM and Plane of motion between what I call a Chin and a Pull up. A pull up represents (to me at least) a movement more like a pull over (giving greater sweep and thickness to the lat) whereas a chin adds width to the lats. Again, just my meanderings.

    Besides, I like posting pictures of young nubile pretty blondes :D
  8. savagebeast

    savagebeast New Member

    Yes! Score one for my search skills! I found both threads I was thinking of when I wrote my reply.

    Here's mikeynov's take on Pull-Ups vs. Chin-Ups from the Thread Chinning or Curls for arms:

    And, not quite as relevant but a good read nonetheless, Ilfacell's The Sternal/Clavicular Debate.
  9. robefc

    robefc New Member

    Interesting points, I always thought wider grip/palms facing away from you was better for back...although I'm not really sure why...it begs the question why do all gyms have a wide bar on the lat pull down and instruct you to do the exercise with palms facing away from you?

    For some reason I am struggling to believe underhand close grip is better but have absolutely no defence to offer whatsoever!! :mad:

    I hope underhand is better because I love shifting more weight! :D
  10. Kate

    Kate New Member

    Hi, guys!

    Just to make things even more confusing: There is a third grip, which is palms facing each other. This is actually strongest for me and is the only way I can do more than one or two pull-ups. [​IMG]

    Last cycle I started with close gip pulldowns and switched to a pull up with the same grip in my last weeks. [​IMG] Works for me...

    Happy hypertrophy!
  11. Just to antagonize the debate I took the info from exrx.net and plopped it in a spreadsheet for a side by side comparison. It looks like the synergist of the reverse grip involve larger muscles mostly the Pec Major but other than that they are pretty equal.
  12. semajes

    semajes New Member

    Isn't that the opposite of what is generally believed with regards to the biceps? According to exrx the movement with your palms facing away from you involves the biceps as a synergist, but not when your palms face you? [​IMG]
  13. It seems reversed doesn't it? Maybe someone with a kinesiology backround can jump in. Looking at exrx they are saying that during the reverse grip the biceps contracts but doesn't change appreciable length therefore it acts as a dynamic stabilizer, but the front wide grip cause the bicep to shorten therefore becoming a synergist. Weird.
  14. robefc

    robefc New Member

    I was thinking about this the other day - is the reason you can lift a heavier weight with neutral/underhand grip because this usually means a narrow grip compared to a wide grip for overhand? In which case the fact we can do more weight with the former comes down to the width of the grip rather than underhand/overhand and leaves the initial question of which is better open.... [​IMG]
  15. semajes

    semajes New Member

    I believe the narrower grip puts a greater stretch on the lats, and is thus "better" for hypertrophy. It also provides a leverage advantage which explains why we can use more weight (also "better" for hypertrophy).
  16. I have been using the wide grip for the past HST cycle and it felt great... but after reading this thread.. I decided to give close grip a try. This will be my 5th time doing them (palms facing away) and they feel GREAT!! I feel it much more in my back than with wide grip. It also feels that you can get a better contracion, it feels really good when u keep that chest up and bring those elbows in.
    just my two sense [​IMG]
  17. Synergist or dynamic stabilizer, those reverse grips hit your bis. B/c of a wrist injury, I dropped curls for close reverse chins. I haven't done any curls all semester, but last night tried some and found my bis to be stronger than ever. They seem effective to me.

    However, I still do most of mine forward and wide, b/c I do rock climbing for a hobby, and that's the position you find your hands in most of the time.
  18. Crackerman

    Crackerman New Member

    I've been doing chins for a while now but my grip seems to fail me before my lats give out.

    What are my options?

    Should I use straps of some sort or is there a way of improving my grip strength (fast).

  19. savagebeast

    savagebeast New Member

    Crackerman, check out this article: Keep Your Chin Up by Christian Thibaudeau. It's about improving your chin-up strength, and it focuses a lot on improving forearm strength.
  20. quadancer

    quadancer New Member

    Even as a kid in the military the underhands were called 'chins' and the overhands called 'pullups', so I don't know who started the backwards descriptions.

    I tried the chins a while ago and it seems I have to load like a full 45 lb plate to keep the reps below 10. BW only to do that with pullups (205 lbs), making them just much more user-friendly. I do recommend however, with either movement to go all the way down in the ROM, unless you're working on a sticking point. So many people seem to just go halfway down. I could do a hundred reps like that.

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