The Pull Up and Chin Up are two of the most popular bodyweight exercises in the world. They can both be done at any gym, in various parks, and even at home with pull up bars. What's the difference between these two exercises and which is the better one for you?
Both of these exercises involve gripping an overhead bar and pulling yourself upward until your chin is above it. The difference is mainly in the way you grip the bar. A Pull Up is done with an overhand grip with your hands at shoulder width or more apart. A Chin Up is done with an underhand grip with your hands at shoulder width apart.
There are some variations with closer grips of farther grips to attack the muscles in various angles, but overall, this is the common way these exercises are performed.
This brings about two important differences:
1. The Pull Up works mainly the upper back muscles with the shoulders and biceps as supporting muscles. The Chin Up places a greater strain on the biceps and less on the back muscles.
2. The Chin Up is easier to perform than the Pull Up since the biceps take a larger part of the strain from the back muscles, enabling you to do more reps.
I recommend doing either of these exercises before any focused bicep workouts as you need the biceps to be as fresh as possible when you're doing these exercises to help you do more reps.
Which of these two exercises should you do? Which one is better?
None of these exercises is better than the other. It mainly depends on how fit you are. Pull Ups are very hard to do, especially for beginners, so you may choose to build your strength up gradually with chin ups. Most people who are fit choose pull ups because they're the more intensive exercise, building more strength and stimulating the muscles more effectively. If you want to work your biceps a bit more than Chin Ups are better, if you're focusing on your back than Pull Ups are the choice to make.
However, one of the keys to a long term fitness progress is variations, so you want to mix it up a bit, doing both Pull Ups and Chin Ups once in while, sometimes even on the same workout. Both of these are challenging and widely effective back exercises. They will help you improve strength and build muscle tissue fast.