The big majority of beginners can struggle to do proper pull-ups with good form. This is why it is recommended to seek other means of improving one’s conditioning and strength.
And although beginners usually struggle to do pull-ups, they will often be able to do a higher number of chin-ups. This is why many will wonder if doing chin-ups will be beneficial to their pull-ups.
Do chin-ups help with pull-ups? Chin-ups can help you improve your pull-ups and increase the number of pull-ups you can do. Doing chin-ups with good form can help you strengthen the same muscles which are worked in pull-ups; thus, chin-ups are an effective way of improving the quality and number of pull-ups one can do.
In this article, I will go over the subtle ways chin-ups can improve your pull-ups and everything you need to know after—all chin-ups may be well worth your while if you are still struggling with your pull-ups.
So let’s take a look.
Table of Contents:
Can chin-ups make you better at pull-ups?
Doing chin-ups can make you better at pull-ups. Chin-ups are one of the best exercises that you can do in order to get better at doing pull-ups because it works virtually the same muscle groups like being relatively easier than pull-ups.
The pull-ups target the muscles of the back, traps, arms, forearms, and rear shoulder. In comparison, chin-ups target the back, traps, arms, forearms, rear shoulder. However, chin-ups also activate the biceps a lot more.
And this is one of the main reasons why chin-ups are easier than pull-ups.
The slight change in the grips allows people to pull with their arms and biceps a lot more compared to what they can do when doing regular pull-ups.
Usually, most people’s arms—their biceps in particular—are stronger. This makes chin-ups a little easier than pull-ups where the arms and biceps cannot be utilized to the same extent leaving nearly all the work to be done by the back muscles.
Since chin-ups are easier for the majority of people—beginners included—and since chin-ups also train virtually the same muscles as pull-ups, this makes them an excellent tool for any beginner who wants to improve their pull-ups.
In other words, more chin-ups can result in more pull-ups.
Is there a carryover between chin-ups and pull-ups?
So far, you have learned that chin-ups and pull-ups are very similar exercises.
Both the chin-ups and pull-ups target your back muscles in a similar way. However, the main reason why chin-ups are easier is that you get more help from your biceps.
In other words, with the chin-ups, you target your back but also your biceps. While with pull-ups, you will target your back more and your biceps a lot less.
There is a carryover between chin-ups and pull-ups. However, the carryover will start to slowly decrease over time as you become stronger.
The extent to which chin-ups can help in improving your pull-ups is fairly limited, and eventually, as you get better at doing pull-ups, you should focus on them.
See article: Are chin-ups safer than pull-ups?
Does being good at chin-ups make you good at pull-ups?
This is where things can start to look a little odd to many who are just starting out.
Just because one can do many chin-ups does not mean they can do many pull-ups.
Although very similar, these exercises should not be confused with one another as they are also very different in terms of body mechanics.
If you want to get good at doing pull-ups, you should focus on doing pull-ups and vice versa; if you want to get good at chin-ups, you should focus on chin-ups.
There is a certain amount of carryover, and if regular pull-ups are too difficult, then chin-ups can help you get strong enough to start doing pull-ups, but this is about as much use as you can get out of chin-ups when it comes to doing pull-ups.
Chin-ups are a good starting point, but as soon as you are capable of doing between 1 to 3 pull-ups, you should focus on doing pull-ups (granted your goals is to do more pull-ups)
For example, imagine you want to learn to ride a motorcycle. Riding a bicycle can help you get a good feel of what it is like to move on two wheels and learn to ride a motorcycle. However, to learn to ride a motorcycle, you need to start riding the motorcycle, as riding a bicycle can only do so much.
How to use chin-ups to help you will pull-ups
Chin-ups can be very effective in developing your muscles and strength.
A simple program of doing one to five sets of chin-ups three times a week is more than enough for most beginners.
If your goal is to move on to pull-ups as soon as possible, then it is not necessary to go a high number of chin-ups. Once you start doing 1 to 3 sets of 3 to 5 chin-ups comfortably is more than enough to move on to pull-ups.
However, it should be noted that you may not be able to do the same number of pull-ups since they are harder than chin-ups, as we have already observed.
This is entirely normal and to be expected.
A good idea is to combine both pull-ups and chin-ups by starting with pull-ups and finishing your training session with some chin-ups. Since chin-ups are easier, you will be able to squeeze in a few extra reps.
However, your long term goal should be to slowly phase away chin-ups and replace them with pull-ups.
Why may chin-ups not help with pull-ups?
Although chin-ups can be used to improve one’s pull-ups, they can also hinder your progress. There are a few ways chin-ups may end up hindering your results, so let’s take a look.
One of the frequent mistakes some people make is to keep doing chin-ups for way too long. Humans are creatures of habit. The more you do something, the better you get at it. The same remains true for chin-ups and pull-ups. The more chin-ups you do, the better you will get at chin-ups but not pull-ups. (Even though there is a certain carry over between the two exercises.)
This is precisely you can actually meet people that can do a lot of chin-ups but cannot do a single pull-up.
Chin-ups can help, but they can also hinder you if you do not move away from them.
The next thing that is worth knowing is that proper form is a must. Doing chin-ups with bad form is a recipe for trouble and will usually result in poor results and questionable progress. On top of that, doing chin-ups, or any other exercises for that matter, with bad form, can lead to injuries.
This also means that people struggling with chin-ups should seek alternative exercises that will allow them to develop their strength. For example, some excellent exercises that people struggling with pull-ups and chin-ups can do are negative pull-ups and negative chin ups, horizontal bodyweight rows, and dumbbell rows.
See article: Why you can’t do negative pull-ups?
Lastly, it is worth mentioning that although the way you train is important for your success in mastering the pull-up, your food should also be in check. Without an adequate calorie and protein intake that is suitable for your goals, you will not observe good results.
The person’s bodyweight is often one of the limiting factors when it comes to exercises such as pull-ups and chin-ups. The thing is, during a pull-up, you are lifting your own weight, so naturally, people that weigh more will find pull-ups harder.