Pullups and Chinups

Pullups, also called Chinups, are a great back and arms exercise! Doing them does not require any weights, but you do need a sturdy bar to hang from.

Pullups are a multi-joint exercise that can be done in a variety of ways. They work a lot of muscles at one time and they can burn a lot of calories and help you lose weight and tone up your body!

Sadly, I don’t think most people can do even one pullup. If you can’t do them, then do other back strengthening exercises and keep practicing…you will definitely be proud when you do your first pullup!


So you don’t think YOU can do a pullup? Keep reading to find out how to work up to doing your first one!

Different people refer to “pullups” and “chinups” in different ways…I have found most people consider a pullup to be where the bar is grasped with an overhand grip (palms face away) and chinups with an underhand grip (palms face toward you). Whatever you decide to call them is up to you! Both are great exercises – they just target the same muscles in slightly different ways…

I asked Brendon Alexander, who has a BS in Exercise Physiology, to give some instructions on performing the basic pullup and chinup and some of its variations. He describes them as “chinups” and “reverse grip chinups”:

Pullups and chinups
Pullups and chinups

ChinUps
Works the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, teres major, biceps brachi, and brachiradialis
• Hang from a fixed bar with a wide overhand grip
• Inhale and pull the chest up to the level of the bar
• exhale at the end of the movement
• return to the initial position with a controlled descent and begin again

Variations of the Chinup
You can stick your chest up and pull yourself up until the bar touches your chin, or you can put your chin over the bar. Keeping the elbows in next to the body during the movement contracts mainly the lats and develops width in the back.

Bringing the elbows back and the chest out as your raise the chin to the bar mainly works the upper portion of the back. This variation of the pullup develops the bulk of the back where the shoulder blades come together.

pullups and chinups

Reverse ChinUps
Works the latissimus dorse, teres major, and biceps brachii
• hang from a bar with an underhand grip, hands should be shoulder width apart
• inhale and push out the chest as you raise the chin to the bar
• exhale at the end of the movement
Notes: develops the latissimus dorsi and work the biceps brachi hard therefore it can be included in an arm workout. Your biceps are hit more with an underhand grip.



Ways to work up to doing a pullup or a chinup!

If you cannot perform a complete pullup or chinup, then hang from a bar and pull yourself as far as you can, and lower yourself in a controlled manner.

You can also stand on a box or chair and use a little “hop” to help yourself up to the bar, then lower yourself all the way down.

These techniques along with other back strengthening exercises like PULLDOWNS and ROWS will having you doing your first chinup in no time!

Chinups (or pullups) can be down with varying grips from wide to narrow. (When using an underhand grip, your hands should stay roughly shoulder width apart. The grip distance can vary more with an overhand grip).

Pullups and chinups can also be done on a set of rings, which makes you work through a wider range of motion. Just like with all exercises, work through the fullest range of motion that is comfortable for you – this will provide a better workout and make you work harder and burn more calories!


So go ahead and challenge yourself! Include chinups and pullups in your weight loss program starting NOW!

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