Overhand vs Underhand Pull Ups, Pull-Ups vs Chin-Ups – Understanding the Variations for Better Results

This blog highlights the most popular variations of pull-ups, the pull-up and the chin-up (also known as overhand vs underhand pull ups), noting down the main difference and why you should adopt any of the two.

Anyone slightly familiar with lifting is also aware of pullups and their profound impact on the body. Pull-ups are regarded as the most challenging bodyweight exercise regardless of your strength level. These lifting maneuvers activate large muscle groups in the upper back. 

Keep up with the pulling, and you have reached halfway to acquiring a broad torso and a jaw-dropping physique. Since the exercise comes with many variations, choosing the best for your needs is a difficult decision. That’s why we have decided to start explaining things right from the absolute basics, i.e., what are pull-ups?  

What Are Pull Ups?

What Are Pull-ups?

Pull-ups are exercises that comprise lifting the body while it is hanging from a bar. Through different grips of the hands, it starts with the arms stretched. Leveraging the arms, back, and abdominal strength, the chin is brought up to the height of the bar.

These belong to the group of bodyweight exercises (exercises that use your body weight as a load). In this case, the load is generally the body’s total weight. So, a certain level of strength and control in the engaged muscles is required. 

Benefits of Pull-ups

Some of the major benefits of pull ups include: 

1. Developing Upper Body Strength 

Pull-ups are definitely a highway towards recovery and improvement of your muscular proportion. They require you to mobilize the weight of your body in each repetition. So, your body has no choice but to get closer to the best version of itself to perform this exercise.

Doing pull-ups directly positions you at a high fitness level. You will see that many people around you cannot perform even a single repetition correctly.

2. Improving Core and Back Strength 

The back muscles are the least worked, and pull-ups work them almost entirely. They also help stabilize your core and contribute to abdominal strength. So, you will see a toned body with more balanced musculature after pull-ups.

3. Improving Posture and Reducing Back Pain 

Due to the special care that is taken during the execution of this exercise, the back acquires a straight posture during each. If you have a curved back, you will see how your posture improves, and lower back pain is relieved as the vertebrae decompress.

4. Pull-ups Are a Quick Workout Option

Just as you have the burpees for those days that you want to work metabolically and don’t have time to go running, the pull-ups are for express and comprehensive strength work. If you don’t have time to go through an entire session, 50 pull-ups are a great alternative to a back workout at the gym (ideally, divided into sets of numbers you’re comfortable with).

What Muscles Do Pull Ups Work?

What Muscles Do Pull-ups Work?

An overhand grip, a little wider than the shoulders, which is done using both hands, is the most challenging variation of pull-ups. The wide grip puts your lats into the main focus while ignoring the biceps. On the contrary, the underhand grip (chin-ups) is considered an ideal way to build on the biceps and upper back. 

The underhand movement calls for a supinated grip, involving more bicep muscles than just the back. While lifting your whole body weight over the bar, the body utilizes some other moves, making it easier to perform than its counterpart. Though underhand pull-ups do target the upper back, it is pretty difficult to isolate those muscles.

Keeping the hand movement aside, both overhand and underhand pull ups seem to be tiring for most guys since they are not used to such bodyweight movements. Most of the guys spend much of their time in front of the computer in a hunched forward position, making it difficult to perform a chin up. 

A rounded back moved forward makes it difficult for the shoulders to adjust accordingly during a chin up, making it hard for them to pull back and down. This difficulty in executing proper movement doesn’t fully activate the lats, putting pressure on the biceps. 

Since the hands have to be fully rotated externally to grab the bar, athletes find it difficult to perform the move. To overcome this issue and to perfect both variations, it is best to engage in soft tissue exercises for the chest pre-workout. While performing the pull-ups, focus on moving shoulders down and back so that your lats are directly targeted.

Types of Grip in Pull-ups

The choice of grip is important because (among other factors) it determines the degree of internal or external rotation at the shoulder. The three main grip types for pull-ups are:

1. Supine Grip (Underhand Pull-ups/Chin Ups) 

Supine Grip Pullup

The palms of the hands are placed inward (facing the face), shoulder-width apart. From a hanging position, pull up until your chin reaches the bar. Avoid rocking your body. Pause at the top and slowly lower back to the starting position. This type of grip places the biceps in a more robust pull line, making it the most difficult to do. The biceps and the latissimus dorsi are the primary muscles worked with this type of grip. 

2. Pronated Grip (Overhand Pull-ups)

Pronated Grip Pullup

It is the type of grip in which your palms face away from the body. Beneath the top bar, you grip the bar with your fingers at the top and your thumb at the bottom. The space between the hands is slightly wider than between the shoulders. 

With this grip, you work, above all, the muscles of the forearm and the internal rotation of the shoulder. It is the most common grip to tone the biceps and deltoids, although it also engages lats, pecs and back. It is a good exercise for building mass and increasing upper body strength.

3. Neutral Grip 

Neutral Grip Pullup

The palms of the hands are placed parallel, one facing the other. Unlike the other two, this grip is lateral and allows for a more natural rotational movement in the wrists and shoulders. 

It puts less stress on the shoulders, reduces pressure on the wrists, and is usually better for getting started. Here, the shoulders, the chest, the biceps, the triceps, and the brachialis (the muscle that pushes up the biceps and makes the arms look bigger) are worked a lot.

Overhand vs Underhand Pull Ups, Which One Should You Choose?

There is no straightforward answer to this. If you aim for a good body and increased strength, then you should perform both of these workouts. To build a back made of concrete and increase your relative body strength, consider incorporating overhand and underhand pullups into your training multiple times a week. 

While they help you build your strength, they are also a great way to warm up your body before a lifting session. Focus on keeping your form intact and avoid creating momentum to aid you in lifting. This will give you remarkable strength, which will soon become apparent.

How to Do Pull-ups Well in General?

To do pull-ups correctly, you should first know that this exercise involves a significant number of joints and muscles working together in sync. To prepare your body for pull-ups, it is vital to warm up beforehand and leave it in an optimal state to perform the challenge. 

Instructions 

  1. To do pullups, you hang from a high bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. The hands should face forward, and if you want to increase the intensity, the thumb should be on the bar and not around it. Also, if we focus on making the latissimus dorsi work more, it is better to set the scapula down and back.
  2. Inhale air through your nostrils before starting the movement.
  3. Execute the full-body pull by flexing your arms and contracting your back muscles without straining your neck. The lifting action should be as explosive as possible for best results, and you should exhale during the lift at the moments of greatest effort.
  4. The pulling movement should end when the entire face exceeds the bar’s height without losing the body’s straight posture, without shrugging the shoulders and keeping the legs relaxed, contracting the buttocks for better abdominal activation.
  5. Lower yourself in a controlled manner until your arms are fully extended, and you can raise your scapulae slightly before the next repetition. It is vital to inhale during the descent to be ready for the next repetition.

How to do Overhand Pull Ups? Step-by-Step Instructions 

Conventional pull-ups are pull-ups that one performs with an overhand grip. This means you grip the bar with your palms facing out and your knuckles facing you. 

Instructions for Overhand Pull Ups

  • Face the bar, and if necessary, use a bench or jump to grab onto the bar with your hands facing away from your body (overhand grip).
  • As for the distance between each hand, position the grip about shoulder-width apart. Most people prefer a slightly wider than shoulder grip when doing an overhand pull-up.
  • Pull your chest toward the bar, keeping your body straight. The elbows should point to the sides and not to the front. 
  • Carry with the pulling-up motion to the point that your chin gets parallel to the bar.
  • Slowly lower your body back to the starting position, allowing your arms to fully extend (without letting your elbows and joints be impacted as you do so).

How to do Underhand Pullups (Chin-ups)? Step-by-Step Instructions 

Conventional pull-ups are pull-ups that one performs with an overhand grip.

 

 Instructions for Underhand Pull Ups

  • The underhand pull-up is one of the most common variations and types of pull-ups.
  • It’s the same as a pull-up, except your palms are facing you (supine grip).
  • Switching your hands from pronated to supine places a greater emphasis on the biceps.

Workout Regimen to Help You Go Better At Pullups

The following pull up bar workout is a composite of both underhand and overhand pull-ups. Incorporating this into your fitness regime will help you gain a torso that you boast around, along with phenomenal strength.

Directions

You should perform the underhand and overhand pull-ups as a warm-up or as a secondary exercise following lower body lifts such as deadlifts or squats. Take at least two days off after performing the workout to let your upper body recover.

First Week 

Day 1: Overhand

Sets/Reps: 5/5

Weighted: If necessary

Day 2: Underhand

Sets/Reps: 3/10

Day 3: Overhand Pyramid

Sets/Reps: Start with 2 reps, then rest for about 1 minute. Perform 4 reps, followed by 6, 8 and 10 reps. Reverse all the way back to 2 reps. Make sure that you maintain good form as long as you can.

Second Week 

Day 1: Overhand

Sets/Reps: 3/5

Weighted: If necessary

Day 2: Underhand

Sets/Reps: 3/10

Day 3: Overhand Pyramid

Sets/Reps: Start with 2 reps, then rest for about 1 minute. Then perform 4 reps, followed by 6, 8, 10 and more reps. Reverse all the way back to 2 reps. Make sure that you maintain good form as long as you can.

Third Week

Day 1: Overhead

Sets/Reps: 4/5

Weighted: If necessary

Day 2: Underhand

Sets/Reps: 4/10

Day 3: Overhand 

Sets/Reps: Start with 2 reps, then rest for about 1 minute. Then perform 4 reps, followed by 6, 8, 10 and more, taking it further than the previous week. Reverse all the way back to 2 reps. Make sure that you maintain good form as long as you can.

Fourth Week 

Day 1: Overhand

Sets/Reps: 4/5

Day 2: Underhand

Sets/Reps: 4/10

Day 3: Overhand Pyramid 

Sets/Reps: Start with 2 reps, then rest for about 1 minute. Then perform 4 reps, followed by 6, 8, 10 and more, taking it further than the previous week. Reverse all the way back to 2 reps. Make sure that you maintain good form as long as you can.

Conclusion

Pull-ups and chin-ups work wonders if you want to build a solid, bigger, stronger, wider upper back. However, changing grips to perform these workouts alters the different areas of your upper body, particularly the back. 

So, ensure you incorporate these explosive upper-body workouts in your training to sculpt a highly aesthetic and muscular torso. At RDX Sports, we have a wide variety of pullup bars to help you move, improve, and evolve your fitness level with safety, security, and convenience. 

RDX Sports Pullup Bar