PULLUPS ARE NOTORIOUS for being one of the most difficult bodyweight movements, providing an intense challenge regardless of strength levels. Challenge aside, the pullup puts a huge emphasis on major muscles in the upper back like the lats. Build these guys up and you’re on your way to a wider torso and impressive physique. With so many variations, it’s hard to find out which one is best for your routine and individual goals. We broke down the two most popular variations—the pullup and chinup—and highlighted their differences in form and muscle activation.
The overhand vs. underhand debate
Pullups, done with both hands in an overhand (or prone) grip slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, prove to be the most difficult of the pair. The wide grip isolates your lats, taking away much of the emphasis from the biceps. The underhand alternative—chinups—receives high praise as both a bicep- and back-builder. By utilizing a supinated grip, the chinup utilizes more of the bicep than its wider-grip counterpart. Since more accessory moves are involved to pull the body over the bar, lifters may find that this variation is easier in comparison. Although it still targets the upper back, lifters may have a hard time isolating and engaging their lats during the motion.