Pull Up vs Chin up: The (un)interchangeable Twins

Muscular biceps are the first noticeable parts of any gym lover’s body and who doesn’t like a crisp back and a bicep? The list of secret ingredients to that fine dish-like body includes some very well-known exercises; Pull up vs Chin up. People use these terms interchangeably, these exercises might seem to be the same, but they are NOT!

While both are upper-body sculptors, they have quite a few notable differences between them that not many people know. Let us discover these differences and know more about these amazing drills and their benefits!

What is a Pull up vs Chin up?

A pull-up is a strength drill where the body is suspended mid-air by hands, and elbows flex and shoulders draw towards the torso. A chin-up is a similar exercise and it is a variation of a pull-up itself, says Doug Sklar, CPT, “Both involve pulling your body up until your chin passes a bar”. But here’s a twist:

What is the difference between these drills?

  1. The Grip difference: The first noticeable difference between the two is that of the grip.

Pull Up:

An overhand grip. Here, the palms point outwards in such a way that they are facing away from you. The width of the hand gap is slightly more than the shoulder width.

Chin Up:

An underhand grip. Here, the palms point inwards so that they are facing you. The hand gap width is equal to shoulder width.

  1. Motion difference: Both the exercises involve the vertical movement of the body, the key difference being; Pull-ups use shoulder adduction, where the elbows come down and back from the sides. Chin-ups use shoulder extension, where the elbows come down and back from the front.
  2. Strength Difference: Most people find chin-ups easier to execute than pull-ups. This is because the line of pull is stronger while doing a chin-up. Beginners find themselves doing a chin-up much before than mastering a pull-up!
  1. Muscles involved in each: Both the drills focus on building the bicep and back muscles but there is a slight difference in the degree of effort put on the back/bicep. The pull-up works the lats more than the biceps this is because the biceps here, is in a weaker line of pull than in a chin-up. The opposite is true for a chin-up.

What is better? Pull up vs Chin up?


The difference in the intensity of muscle workout in both cases is not very significant, hence choosing one drill over the other is a loss in itself! At the end of the day, these are just other arm exercises that recruit your biceps, back, shoulder and trunk muscles and ultimately the result will be similar.

Although, the choice between the two is also a matter of convenience and what works better on one. This may vary from person to person and the niche of a person at training. For beginners, a chin-up is more convenient and workable, as the level increases, a pull up with a shoulder-wide grip gap works decently and for advance level, pull-ups with wider grip gap work the lats and biceps even more to give that muscle-rich look.

Benefits of Pull-ups and Chin-ups

Since chin-up is a variation of a pull-up, the benefits of both the exercises are same. Multiple muscles are targeted during the drill, which includes latissimus dorsi (a large muscle behind your arms), pecs, biceps, deltoids, forearms, and even the abs. In fact, chin/pull ups are one of the best ab workout exercises that can be done. Accomplishing a perfect pull up or a chin-up is one of the best feelings for a to-be gym-lover, and doing so, will make other exercises (targeting the back and biceps) feel much lighter and easy?

Another fantastic benefit of doing these drills is building not only a well-sculpted body but a good posture. A good posture is not only physically confident-looking but also insinuates a feeling of being self-assured. Pull-ups and chin-ups develop one’s grip strength, this can help one, work with dumbbells and barbells well.

For beginners, it might seem impossible to even complete a single pull-up/chin-up, but one day when you wake up with a clear mind and a practised body, you will do it! And when you do so, the feeling of accomplishing it finally, with an ever-energized soul, will be a cherry on the cake. The feeling is empowering and liberating!


Pull up Vs Chin up is now Pull-up AND Chin-up, knowing more about each of these drills just makes us realise it is not a battle anymore, but a harmonious collection of the body developing positivity. They might seem the same, but have key differences highlighted in the above paragraphs, mainly differences being in the grip, movement, muscles involved and strength involved. The ultimate goal of both the exercises simply arms, back and ab building, thus choosing one over the other is unjust. The benefits of these exercises are not limited to physique building but mind building towards a more positive and confident self. The choice of one drill over the other depends on an individual or level of training or simply one’s liking!