Chin-Up Vs Pull-Up: What's The Difference?

Chin-Up Vs Pull-Up: What's The Difference?

While chin-ups and pull-ups are used interchangeably, they are two different moves with specific targets. Learn more about these forms of exercises for muscle building and strengthening.

Chin-ups and pull-ups are visually similar, both use a pull-up bar and your body weight for building upper body muscles. While used interchangeably, the words chin-up and pull-up are two different forms of exercises with specific target muscles. 

If you are targeting your biceps and pec muscles, then chin-ups would be appropriate for you.  But if you are aiming at your lats and traps muscles, then pull-ups would be better suited for that purpose.

How to Differentiate Chin-Ups from Pull-Ups

Research and studies have shown that both exercises increase muscle mass in the upper body. However, the main difference between these two is your hand grip and placement. When performing a chin-up, you hold with your underhand, with your palm (supinated grip) facing toward you. For a pull-up, grasp overhand, with your palm (pronated grip) facing away from your chin.

Do chin-up exercises when you want to primarily develop the biceps, posterior deltoid, or basically, the arms and back muscles. This also increases core strength for solid and toned abs, helping you lose belly fat in the process.

On the other hand, pull-ups can be more challenging, especially when you are a beginner. This is because pull-ups heavily rely on the lats more than the biceps. They are great for developing the upper back muscles, namely the lats, trapezius (traps), rhomboids, and levator scapulae.

What’s Best for Beginners?

Chin-ups are easier for those who are just starting out with their fitness journey, even for seasoned lifters. Why? Naturally, you have stronger biceps when you first start lifting. “Pulling vertically with a supinated grip feels more natural and efficient,” explains Fitness Consultant Jake Boly.

Chin-ups are easier to do. With that in mind, take that extra count and perform more repetitions with a chin-up grip. 

Chin-Ups: Step-by-Step Guide

1. Grasp the bar using a supinated grip.
2. Tighten your core muscles and leg muscles. Prevent leg swinging by crossing your feet behind you.
3. Bring your shoulder blades together and lift yourself until your chin is above the bar and hold for a second.
4. Slowly lower back to the starting position.

    6 Steps to do Pull-Ups

    1. With your arms at shoulder width apart, and your palms away from you, grasp the bar with both hands.
    2. Bring your shoulder blades together by rolling your shoulders back and down.
    3. Hang from the bar by lifting your feet off of the floor while keeping your core tight.
    4. Lift your chest until your head peeks over the bar and hold for a second.
    5. Lower yourself back down while maintaining a controlled manner
    6. Return to the starting position.

      Common Variations for Muscle Building

      If you’re struggling to do a Chin-Up or Pull-Up, try these variations below.

      1. Assisted Chin-ups and Pull-ups

      Use rubber resistance bands to support your body weight. Start by choosing a thick resistance band of the right length. You can also get a training partner to support you while doing the assisted chin/pull-ups.

      2. Hanging from the Bar

      Hanging from the bar is an effective technique to develop grip and forearm strength, making it easier for you to perform other advanced variations.

      While you are hanging from the bar, hold for an extra 30 seconds or more while keeping your shoulders and core engaged.

      3. Negative Pull-ups and Chin-ups


      While the regular chin-ups and pull-ups start from the bottom position to the top, the negative variation, as the name implies, entails beginning at the top of the bar until you lower down.

      To do this, step on a stool or an elevated surface to help you get to the top of the bar. From the upper position, slowly lower your body while engaging your core and leg muscles.


      The two exercises target different sets of muscles, but they are equally effective at building upper-body strength, muscle mass, and overall health. If you are just starting out, try the assisted variants first to develop the endurance required to perform strength training regularly.