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    Pull Up vs Chin Up

    I've noticed that most programs have pull ups and not chin ups. My thinking is that this is so the lift is more focused on the lats. It is usually programmed as an assistance/accessory lift rather than a major compound lift. I sometimes see then in sets of 5 though, which I find odd.

    Personally, I like to do both, but I treat chin ups as a big compound lift. They have a greater range of motion and I can move a lot more weight, so I imagine they are more stimulative of muscle growth.

    Curious to know how/if everyone else uses the pull up and chin up.
    Last edited by RapidFail; 12-18-2021 at 09:55 PM.
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    What if I told neither one is that great for lats
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    Time is Muscle ECGordyn's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by RapidFail View Post
    I've noticed that most programs have pull ups and not chin ups. My thinking is that this is so the lift is more focused on the lats. It is usually programmed as an assistance/accessory lift rather than a major compound lift. I sometimes see then in sets of 5 though, which I find odd.

    Personally, I like to do both, but I treat chin ups as a big compound lift. They have a greater range of motion and I can move a lot more weight, so I imagine they are more stimulative of muscle growth.

    Curious to know how/if everyone else uses the pull up and chin up.
    Could be because of shoulder rotation. Chins internally rotate the shoulder, while pullups externally rotate the shoulder. As antagonist movements, most vertical presses are done with external rotation, so it makes sense to do vertical pulls with external rotation, too.
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    Originally Posted by RapidFail View Post
    I've noticed that most programs have pull ups and not chin ups. My thinking is that this is so the lift is more focused on the lats. It is usually programmed as an assistance/accessory lift rather than a major compound lift. I sometimes see then in sets of 5 though, which I find odd.

    Personally, I like to do both, but I treat chin ups as a big compound lift. They have a greater range of motion and I can move a lot more weight, so I imagine they are more stimulative of muscle growth.

    Curious to know how/if everyone else uses the pull up and chin up.
    I personally prefer pullups. I don't think chinups inherently have greater ROM, it's just much harder to achieve the same ROM (e.g. collarbone to bar or chest to bar) with a pronated grip.

    Chinups are often praised as a biceps builder, but for me they did very little for biceps growth on top of what I already got from pullups.

    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    What if I told neither one is that great for lats
    You just love controversy lol

    I am inclined to agree to a certain point. So many gym rats are just flapping like fish and not working their lats properly during pullups because the movement is much harder when performed properly. Those people would probably be better off doing lat pulldowns if they want to build their lats.
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    I love chin ups. They hit my lats hard and I can get a nice stretch in my back. Added bicep work is a bonus
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    Originally Posted by EiFit91 View Post
    You just love controversy lol
    Well he is right.
    Good form or bad form for pullups (or conventional pulldowns), there are better exercises for lats.
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    Originally Posted by jaxqen View Post
    Well he is right.
    Good form or bad form for pullups (or conventional pulldowns), there are better exercises for lats.
    «There are better exercises for lats» is a different statement than «pullups aren’t great for lats» though

    IMO get better at pullups and lats will grow no question. For full development, perhaps other movements are needed too.
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    based on actual events jtaylor2010's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jaxqen View Post
    Well he is right.
    Good form or bad form for pullups (or conventional pulldowns), there are better exercises for lats.
    He isn’t right. Pull ups are great for lats, especially weighted. On top of this I’d say the effectiveness to risk of injury ratio is also one of the best of any exercise.
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    Originally Posted by jtaylor2010 View Post
    He isn’t right. Pull ups are great for lats, especially weighted. On top of this I’d say the effectiveness to risk of injury ratio is also one of the best of any exercise.
    Once you get over 120 degrees of shoulder flexion, it is no longer lats as the prime mover, but the teres major. The lats lose all leverage of rib cage as a fulcrum.

    So no, pull-ups and chin-ups are a good compound lift, but for lats, there are indeed better options.

    Originally Posted by EiFit91 View Post
    You just love controversy lol
    Not controversy, just going against common bro wisdom when it isn’t true. You could never do a vertical pull, ever and still have great lats.

    If only people would stop thinking vertical and horizontal and start thinking things like keeping a neutral spine and upper arm positioning to fully shorten the lats, maybe their lats would grow.

    Originally Posted by jaxqen View Post
    Well he is right.
    Good form or bad form for pullups (or conventional pulldowns), there are better exercises for lats.
    So high rows with a neutral of supinated grip I find are invaluable for lat growth, but since my gym doesn’t have one, I found doing chin grip lat pulldowns with a lean back maintained throughout to keep shoulder extension minimized is a good substitute.

    T-bar rows with a neutral grip and 1-arm DB “J” rows with a neutral grip pulling the elbow back and towards the hip are good options too.
    Last edited by BeginnerGainz; 12-19-2021 at 09:02 AM.
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    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    Once you get over 120 degrees of shoulder flexion, it is no longer lats as the prime mover, but the teres major. The lats lose all leverage of rib cage as a fulcrum.

    So no, pull-ups and chin-ups are a good compound lift, but for lats, there are indeed better options.
    You didn’t start out by saying there are better options, you started out by saying neither are great for lats which just isn’t true. And the fact that it’s basically impossible to find a list of great lat exercises that doesn’t include pull-ups means lots of people agree. But not trying to derail the thread so we can just agree to disagree.




    As far as Opie’s question, I don’t do chin-ups anymore. I do back and bis together and count my pull-ups as a back exercise whereas doing chin-ups would relieve the back by way of bicep work which I don’t really want to do because I can isolate my arms better in other ways. For a long time I did weighted wide grip pull-ups, close grip chin-ups, and hammer grip pull-ups for the bulk of my workout and my back was legit(better than lots of people who did many different exercises). I have a completely different routine now, but not because of lack of effectiveness…. just wanted to switch things up.
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    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    Not controversy, just going against common bro wisdom when it isn’t true. You could never do a vertical pull, ever and still have great lats.
    If you want to be a contrast to «bro wisdom» I feel that categorical claims such as the above need to be backed by actual evidence. Otherwise you’re just engaging in alternative bro wisdom.

    Afaik all the best bodybuilders included vertical pulls as an essential part of their routine. Just a waste of time?
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    Originally Posted by EiFit91 View Post
    If you want to be a contrast to «bro wisdom» I feel that categorical claims such as the above need to be backed by actual evidence. Otherwise you’re just engaging in alternative bro wisdom.
    I literally told you why in an above post. The lats don’t have the leverage once you get over a certain degree of shoulder flexion. In that case the teres major becomes the prime mover.

    Afaik all the best bodybuilders included vertical pulls as an essential part of their routine. Just a waste of time?
    No not a waste of time. Just not that great for lats.

    And comparing your average lifter (just about everyone on this forum) to professional bodybuilders is apples and oranges. They KNOW how to manipulate their body to put maximal tension on a target muscle.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/CWi-5iir...dium=copy_link

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    Last edited by BeginnerGainz; 12-21-2021 at 04:20 PM.
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    Pull-ups require more applied upper back strength as the shoulders are rotated outward and the traps are passively shortened.

    Arm strength applies more in the forearm and grip, not different from the forearm curl compared to biceps curls, when comparing pull-uips to chin-ups.

    There's not much to talk about with regard to strength development when discussing chinups. I think it's great for a 1rm standard, and heck yeah put it on biceps day too.

    Pronated grip though is varied all over the place. More friendly for wide-grip, and you also have varying grip orientations which make for significant differences in strength compared to even supinated across neutral grip really.
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    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    I literally told you why in an above post. The lats don’t have the leverage once you get over a certain degree of shoulder extension. In that case the teres major becomes the prime mover.
    But IMO this statement isn’t evidence that pullups aren’t great for the lats. Show me a study where people fail to grow their lats using pullups. I am not aware of any, but IIRC there is at least plenty of lat activation during pullups.

    Concerning your second point: Calisthenics people, who tend to rely primarily on vertical pulling relative to horizontal pulling (too much IMO), tend to have very well developed lats.
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    Originally Posted by EiFit91 View Post
    But IMO this statement isn’t evidence that pullups aren’t great for the lats. Show me a study where people fail to grow their lats using pullups. I am not aware of any, but IIRC there is at least plenty of lat activation during pullups.

    Concerning your second point: Calisthenics people, who tend to rely primarily on vertical pulling relative to horizontal pulling (too much IMO), tend to have very well developed lats.
    I never said you couldn’t develop lats with vertical pulls, I just said they aren’t that great for lats. And they aren’t. But the lats are still involved so of course they’re gonna get some stimulation.

    Calisthenics aside, you could never do another vertical pull, for the rest of your life, and still get some wide lats.
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    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    So high rows with a neutral of supinated grip I find are invaluable for lat growth, but since my gym doesn’t have one, I found doing chin grip lat pulldowns with a lean back maintained throughout to keep shoulder extension minimized is a good substitute.

    T-bar rows with a neutral grip and 1-arm DB “J” rows with a neutral grip pulling the elbow back and towards the hip are good options too.
    The gym has cables.
    Half kneeling, adjust the height of the cable => one arm high row.

    Originally Posted by EiFit91 View Post
    Afaik all the best bodybuilders included vertical pulls as an essential part of their routine. Just a waste of time?
    It's funny that when it comes to stuff like:
    - bro splits
    - not using full ROM
    - using pump as an indicator
    - etc etc
    people say that bb are wrong and they would grow from anything because vitamin S

    But when it comes to other stuff like this one, suddently the argument "but but but all the pros are doing them" is valuable.
    Last edited by jaxqen; 12-19-2021 at 01:37 PM.
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    The bench press is a great chest builder.
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    Originally Posted by EiFit91 View Post
    «There are better exercises for lats» is a different statement than «pullups aren’t great for lats» though
    not that different

    great > good > decent > bad

    pullups aren't great = pullups are good, but there are other great exercises for lats


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    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC449729/

    Muscle Exercise Performed
    Pulldown1 Reverse2 Slack SR3 Retract SR4
    Lats 26.23 [10.1] 22.37 [9.1] 30.10 [14.9] 37.08 [14.04]
    Diff From*: 3 3 1,2 -
    Biceps 15.20 [8.05] 19.89 [6.8] 18.21 [7.1] 19.92 [10.7]
    Diff from - - - -
    MTR 22.72 [11.5] 20.51 [10.9] 29.77 [11.6] 35.50 [17.6]
    Diff from: - 3 2 -
    Ratio Lats:Biceps 175.22 [84.4] 111.48 [53.2] 156.31 [81.0] 186.48 [96.0]
    Diff from: 2 1,3 2 -


    I would really like to see that exercise done by Jordan Peters in this study, btw


    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    The bench press is a great chest builder.
    it must be true because:
    - all great bb included bench in their workouts
    - powerlifters who rely primarily on bench relative to machine chest press have big chests - well, not true, actually, for some of them, but for the sake of the arguments, let's pretend all PLs have huge chests
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    Originally Posted by jaxqen View Post
    EDIT: because science, science, science, we love science, BEST TRAINING EVER ACCORDING TO SCIENCEEEEEEEE IN CAPS LONG LIVE JEFF NIPPARD AND JEFF CAVALIERE AND OTHER JEFF

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC449729/
    I'm not sure that specific study is actually useful. They had people do 1 rep of a 10-12 rep weight, hold one position for a 10 second isometric, and assess EMG during the isometric portion. There is a signal of greater traps/rhomboid stimulus when holding the shoulder blades retracted (35.50 vs 29.77), but it is not statistically significant. As those are the primary muscles used for shoulder blade retraction, my guess is that the weight was not heavy enough to require enough motor unit activation to actually detect a difference, which really throws the whole study into question in my opinion. They also used the same weight on the pulldown and row; if they were stronger with pulldowns then this would make the numbers look worse for them.

    Would have been better to max out on each individual lift and then do an isometric with a 3RM weight on each one, in my opinion.
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    Originally Posted by Heisman2 View Post
    I'm not sure that specific study is actually useful. They had people do 1 rep of a 10-12 rep weight, hold one position for a 10 second isometric, and assess EMG during the isometric portion. There is a signal of greater traps/rhomboid stimulus when holding the shoulder blades retracted (35.50 vs 29.77), but it is not statistically significant. As those are the primary muscles used for shoulder blade retraction, my guess is that the weight was not heavy enough to require enough motor unit activation to actually detect a difference, which really throws the whole study into question in my opinion. They also used the same weight on the pulldown and row; if they were stronger with pulldowns then this would make the numbers look worse for them.

    Would have been better to max out on each individual lift and then do an isometric with a 3RM weight on each one, in my opinion.
    EMG studies have always had their flaws. So I wouldn’t really consider them the end all be all.

    Take for example one in particular that said decline worked more upper pec than incline, but they didn’t even attach the pads along the clavicular fibers.
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    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    The bench press is a great chest builder.
    I program bench press in my workouts.
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    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    EMG studies have always had their flaws. So I wouldn’t really consider them the end all be all.

    Take for example one in particular that said decline worked more upper pec than incline, but they didn’t even attach the pads along the clavicular fibers.
    Oh, I agree, I was just pointing out why that particular study is extra bad, lol.

    For those curious, a relatively simple short read on some of the flaws with EMG: https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/F..._Imply.31.aspx

    And for anyone who wants the more complex/detailed/longer explanation of what surface EMG can and cannot tell you: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles...017.00985/full - This one is quite complicated and if people are interested I could make a separate thread discussing it in more detail some time.
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    Not everyone responds to specific exercises in the exact same way.

    If someone with big lats told me pullups helped him a lot in building them, I would believe him.

    If someone else with big lats told me pullups weren't much help in building them, I would believe him too.
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    Maybe of interest. Lyle on the "lats have no leverage above 120 degrees" that circulates the web including here.
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    Deads, pendlays, ab wheel and facepulls... That's been 90% of my back work. I do more chest supported stuff (including face pulls) now tho cos im bored of bb rowing.

    Edit' the pullover machine! Hope did i forget that. My new fave machine again.

    Very very few vertical pulls overall, my snapped up shoulder joint hates more than a couple of sets.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/CTYHCujI...dium=copy_link

    Not the best lats but eh. Never focused on them.
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    I'm using the lat pulldown machine in my current program for variation. I don't know if it beats regular pull ups..
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    How about this: find me somebody who actually can do at least 10 clean pullups who also does not at least have above average lats, before trying to levy criticism on an exercise which almost universally yields this to those proficient in it.

    That wasn't even OP's question, however. I personally prefer pullups for regular routine work as they're more bicep-sparing and I also curl with some regularity and would rather allocate the bicep volume for that, after rows as well. If I'm stuck at home, I prefer chin ups for the same reason, since I can stimulate the biceps fairly well with it in the absence of being able to do heavy curls.
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    Originally Posted by MarkZB View Post
    I'm using the lat pulldown machine in my current program for variation. I don't know if it beats regular pull ups..
    I include those in basically every back workout just for the obvious advantage that you can do them one-handed to help prevent imbalance.
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    Originally Posted by jtaylor2010 View Post
    I include those in basically every back workout just for the obvious advantage that you can do them one-handed to help prevent imbalance.
    I’ve been generally moving towards to doing all my lat work one handed.

    Upper back work like pulldowns and pronated rows I still find it easier to get the scapula retracted and squeezed using both hands.
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    Originally Posted by EiFit91 View Post
    But IMO this statement isn’t evidence that pullups aren’t great for the lats. Show me a study where people fail to grow their lats using pullups. I am not aware of any, but IIRC there is at least plenty of lat activation during pullups.

    Concerning your second point: Calisthenics people, who tend to rely primarily on vertical pulling relative to horizontal pulling (too much IMO), tend to have very well developed lats.
    I'm a calisthenics person. Front lever holds and front lever pull ups is horizontal. I work on that a lot. Get strong at retraction so that you can retract to have upper body horizontal, legs relaxed/dangling (arching hang) and pull up like that.

    Regular pull ups, especially gym bro pull ups is low range of motion, done fast using momentum, just dropping going down and bouncing to go back up. It's not kipping pull ups, but it's not just using muscles to do the movement. It's using technique to make the movement as easy as possible, range of motion just enough to feel a "pump" to count more reps. You're better off doing lat pull downs with a weight you can actually control and have some actual range of motion.
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