Pull up vs chin up.
What’s the difference?
It doesn’t seem like a lot does it?
Both involve being pulled up and both involve getting your chin up and over the bar.
Surely there is something different about the two right?
How you grip the bar decides which movement you are doing.
Palm facing towards you is a chin-up.
Palm pacing away from you is a pull-up.
So now that we’ve cleared that up.
Which is harder?
This does vary a little from person to person but for most people, a pull is harder to perform.
They both seem to do exactly the same thing?
But the small change in grip is completely changing the movement.
When you turn out your palms to perform a chin-up, you bring your bicep into the movement a lot more.
Now like the muscles in our back, our biceps are also pulling muscles.
So by bringing in another pulling muscle we have much more luck pulling off what is viewed as a pretty tricky bodyweight movement.
That’s right, a lot of people struggle with pull-ups and chin-ups. So how do we get strong enough to do them?
Chin Up Progression
Chin-ups are a tough movement to do.
It takes a lot of strength to pull your body weight up.
So how do you get strong enough to do it?
With a little bit of reverse engineering.
What I mean by that is to start at the top and work back down.
So set up a box under the bar or have a friend help push you up so you can get your chin above the bar.
Now lower yourself down as slowly as possible.
You’ll hear me mention this a lot but time under tension is so important when building strength or size in your muscles.
Gravity is going to pull you back down any so use that to your advantage.
Resisting gravity is still resistance right.
And your muscles need resistance, lifting heavy things is not the only way to get strong.
Another option is to use a resistance band to help you.
By tying the band around the bar and putting your foot inside it’s going to make it easy to pull yourself up.
You can even apply the same rule of slow descent.
So use the band to help pull you up, then lower yourself back down for 8 seconds.
I use a combination of these methods with my clients.
It works every time, obviously, some people get the strength faster than others but this method works so well for getting the strength to do your first chin-up or pull-up.
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How To Increase Pull Ups
Pull-ups and chin-ups are pretty similar as you now know.
So the methods for getting better at them are the same.
Like I just said, slowing down the descent and using bands is a good way to get better.
So what if you can already do them but you’ve plateaued.
No matter how often you do them you just can’t get out any more reps.
Again I have a few little tips for this.
The first one being just to slow the movement down to increase your strength by spending more time under tension.
Another option is to do them weighted.
You can put on a weight vest and this is going to force you to lift more weight and in turn, get you stronger.
Again you can slow the movement down with this also.
A slow, weighted pull-up is going to take you to a dark place!
You’ll find you won’t be getting out nearly as many reps per set.
And this is a good thing for strength.
Something else you can try is changing your grip, try a wide grip pull, try close grip pull-ups.
Every time you’ll be targeting different muscles in your back and arms.
My final tip is to build up the strength needed with a lat pull-down machine. It is a common cable machine at the gym that gives you the option of how much weight you are going to pull.
Over time you can build up to pulling your body weight.
Here‘s an article that goes into a bit more information on Lat pulls and how they are different from pull-ups.