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You may have noticed that we have been doing lots of strict pull ups recently in our programming. This is going to continue for the foreseeable future as we continue in our quest to get all our members knocking out strict pull ups for reps.
One of the most common questions we get is, should I do chin ups or pull ups? Just to clarify, chin ups are performed with a supinated grip (i.e. palms facing you) whereas pull ups are performed with a pronated grip (palms facing away).
Often there is a bit of misunderstanding about which version of the movement to practice. Athletes dismiss chin ups because they are “easier” than pull ups so not as valuable.
Chin ups are not really easier than pull ups. However, more musculature is employed in a chin up than pull ups because the biceps assist in the movement. In a pull up, due to the pronated (or palms facing away) grip, the biceps are not involved.
A good analogy is the back squat and the front squat. The back squat allows you to handle more weight than a front squat, but ask anyone if a back squat is easier than a front squat and you will get a resounding no!
So which movement should you do? The answer of course is both. And not only pull ups or chin ups, how about neutral (palms facing each other) grip which can be done on the bars or rings. Along with variations in grip from very wide to very narrow, there are tons of different variations that should all be used.
However, if you are struggling generally with pull ups and cannot do more than 2 or 3, you are going to be better off doing chin ups. Working more musculature in this movement is going to be more beneficial than less. This will help to develop overall pulling strength that will translate to improvement in both chin ups and pull ups.