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Pullup vs Chinup Grip Width (CHEAT SHEET!)

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Pullups and chinups are two of the best exercises you can do to build upper body strength. In this video, I show you how the differences between these two exercises goes far deeper than just the names however. Your grip width on pullups and chinups can make a huge difference towards which muscles you are targeting when doing each exercise.

Let’s start with the grip positions. There are three major grip widths that you can assume when you grab onto the bar. The first is the narrow grip where your hands are practically touching each other in the middle of the bar. The second is the most common, shoulder width, where your hands are pretty much in line with your shoulders. Finally, there is the wide grip in which your hands are placed far outside your shoulders.

These grip width differences can be seen on either the chinup or the pullup exercise. They have profound differences between them in terms of the muscles that get targeted with each. Ironically, if you trace the path of which muscles are getting favored with each you will see that it completes a loop up your forearm, into your upper arm, around your back and returns along the same route.

The underhand close grip width (or close grip chinup as it is called) is great for hitting the biceps and back of course but will also preferentially involve the flexors of your forearms. This is because these muscles are at a mechanical advantage at this width, which allows you to shift some of the focus towards them. This could come in handy if your biceps are fatigued and need a little extra help from somewhere else.

Next, spread your hands out to shoulder width and you’ve got the king of the biceps and back combo exercises. Here, unlike on pullups, the biceps get worked harder since you have the added component of supination of the forearm that you don’t get with the traditional pullup. Spread the arms out even further and now you are going to induce the rotator cuff into the exercise. This is a great variation for this very reason since this muscle group gets very much overlooked in traditional training plans.

Turn your hands over and you are now doing a pullup. The wide version of the pullup will work the lats the most and help you to build that impressive v-taper look that many desire. Narrow up the grip to shoulder width apart and you are now going to start asking the brachialis in your upper arm to contribute. This could be a problem if you have any pain or irritation in this often aggravated arm muscle. Finally, bring your hands in very close together and the work travels even further down the arms into the brachioradialis of your forearm.

You can see that varying the grip width, not just the underhand or overhand placement, can have a profound impact on the results you see from these exercises. If you are looking for a program that spells out the benefits of each and plans them into your workouts at the right time, be sure to head to http://athleanx.com and get the ATHLEAN-X Training System.

For more videos on how to do more pullups and chinups, as well as the best exercises to get stronger at pullups be sure to subscribe to our channel here on youtube at http://youtube.com/user/jdcav24