Chin-ups vs. pull-ups: Major differences and muscles worked – INSIDER

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Chin-ups and pull-ups are highly beneficial bodyweight exercises that target your entire upper body. And while you may use the terms interchangeably, the two moves are actually quite distinct.
The big difference comes in how you grip the bar. Put most simply, chin-ups are performed with your palms facing toward your body, and pull-ups are performed with your palms facing away from you.
The change in grip position results in a large difference in muscle activation and grip strength, says Andy Sobuta, a physical therapist at Spaulding Rehabilitation Center, which is an official teaching partner of the Harvard Medical School Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 
Here’s what you need to know about the difference between chin-ups and pull-ups, which muscles they target, and how to add them to your workout routine. 
A chin-up is a strength training exercise that uses your entire body weight, with a special focus on your upper body and core. 
While it requires a great deal of strength, the move is rather straightforward: 
In general, the chin-up may be better for someone new to a body-weight move, because it is typically the easier of the two movements, says Sobuta. Furthermore, those lacking in upper back flexibility may have an easier time with the chin-up. 
This is because chin-ups put your arms in a more natural position, which reduces injury risk to your shoulders. Doing chin-ups with proper form will also improve your grip strength and posture.
Chin-ups work your upper back and arm muscles, specifically the biceps, forearms, shoulders, and latissimus dorsi, or “lats.” Like pull-ups, chin-ups also engage your abdominal muscles throughout the move.
However, Sobuta says chin-ups differ from pull-ups in one major way. The underhand grip position of the chin-up activates the anterior chain muscles, which are located in the front of your body, such as the biceps and pectorals — while the pull-up focuses on the posterior chain muscles in your back. 
Doing a pull-up is similar to doing a chin-up. But besides the slight variations in your grip and stance, there are also differences in how your body responds to the move.
These are the steps to properly do a pull-up: 
One common issue with pull-ups is strain on your shoulders. To avoid this, it’s important to ensure you’re using proper form by pulling your shoulders down and back before bending your elbows to pull up. 
Pull-ups target your back muscles primarily, specifically your lats, but also your chest and shoulder muscles. Compared to a chin-up, pull-ups better engage the lower trapezius muscles in your back, between your shoulder blades. 
The overhand grip of the pull-up improves posterior chain activation, says Sobuta. Posterior chain refers to the muscles on the back side of your body, which are key for everyday movements.
“Overhead athletes, such as pitchers and volleyball players, may benefit more from the pull-up due to overuse of the biceps and pectorals during sport,” says Sobuta. “By training the posterior chain over the anterior chain, this may assist them long-term with preventing injury and improving overall shoulder health.”
Chin-ups and pull-ups are both powerful strength moves that use your entire body weight. The main differences come down to slight variations in position and preference. Ultimately, both are great ways to work your entire upper body and engage your core. 

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