What is the ratio of bodyweight chin ups to pull ups?

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Benedictine Monk

Level 3 Valued Member
I know this may sound like a strange question, but at what point does the number of chin ups
you can do in excess of pull ups indicate a major imbalance in your upper torso?
 

Harry Westgate

Level 6 Valued Member
Dunno about imbalances... And honestly can't say I care that much about them right now (not having any adverse day to day effects), but in terms of the ratio of numbers, solely from my own experience, I only train pull-ups (tactical), and always seem able to do an extra couple of chin-up reps when I occasionally test them. E.g. At some point last year, I tested myself and did 15 tactical pull-ups, then about 2 days later I tested my chin-ups and I got 17. YMMV.

I think being overly concerned by 'imbalances' in drills like these might be more grief than it's really worth in the long term. However, I'm only 20 with only 4 years of dedicated strength training under my belt so I may not be the best person to listen to, and I'm more than happy to be corrected by those more knowledgeable.
 

Benedictine Monk

Level 3 Valued Member
Well, I seem to be able to crank out about 6 chin ups for every 1 (almost) pullup - done in the strict "tactical"
style (no kipping), so I'm honestly curious.

But, point taken.
 

J Petersen

SFG1/SFB
Certified Instructor
If the disparity you experience between the two differing hand placements worries you, I'd recommend trading the bar for a good set of gymnastics rings and performing the lion's share of your chinning on them. Rather than being locked into a fixed plane that goes with prone versus supine grips on the bar and overthinking which flavor to go with, we can figure out our own natural (not to mention healthier) groove on a pair of rings.
 

Harry Westgate

Level 6 Valued Member
@Benedictine Monk um... How many tactical pull-ups can you do...? I can promise you that the 6:1 ratio will not stay with you past 6/7 pull-up reps... Otherwise you'd be doing say 10 pull-ups and 60 chin ups...
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I seem to be able to crank out about 6 chin ups for every 1 (almost) pullup - done in the strict "tactical" style (no kipping), so I'm honestly curious.
It just sounds like you need to work on technique - hollow position, maybe your grip width isn't right for your pullups (make it about a hand's width wider than your chinup grip as a starting point). Try squeezing a shoe, kicking pad, etc., between your knees or ankles when you do a pullup.

Are you weak at the bottom or the top of the pullup?

Can you post a video of a chinup and a pullup?

-S-
 

Benedictine Monk

Level 3 Valued Member
It just sounds like you need to work on technique - hollow position, maybe your grip width isn't right for your pullups (make it about a hand's width wider than your chinup grip as a starting point). Try squeezing a shoe, kicking pad, etc., between your knees or ankles when you do a pullup.

Are you weak at the bottom or the top of the pullup?

Can you post a video of a chinup and a pullup?

-S-
Steve - excellent advice. I'll look at each one of those cues and report back.
 

offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
If the disparity you experience between the two differing hand placements worries you, I'd recommend trading the bar for a good set of gymnastics rings and performing the lion's share of your chinning on them. Rather than being locked into a fixed plane that goes with prone versus supine grips on the bar and overthinking which flavor to go with, we can figure out our own natural (not to mention healthier) groove on a pair of rings.
Agree 100% When at home I use a set of Metolius Rock Rings. They have all of the benefits that @J Petersen says... Plus you can vary your hand position to get an additional grip training effect if desired
 

offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
+1. I don't do any chinups or pullups without a pause at the top. Even if I was doing something heavy for me and I failed to reach the top, I'd still try for a bit at the top before lowering.

-S-
+1
Sometimes we do a drill called 'Frenchies'

Pull-up to top position and 'lock-off' for a count (such as 5)
Lower
Immediately pull-up to top position and lower to a point where your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Lock-off and hold for the same count.
Lower
Immediately pull-up to top position and lower to a point where your upper arms are about 45 degrees to the floor. Lock-off and hold again for the same count.

This equals '1Rep'
 

305pelusa

Level 6 Valued Member
There should be a slight disparity in reps, but it should not be as large. It's a good idea to make sure your Pull-up form is on-par. It always is. However, the reason why you could manage more chin-ups than pull-ups would not just be because your pull-ups are sloppy (otherwise you'd be getting more pull-up reps no?). But it could also be that your Chin-ups themselves are a bit sloppy.

It would be good to have a form check, but one common issue is not going all the way down during your chin-ups. If you cut that last part of range-of-motion, and "bounce" off of the stretch reflex of your biceps and lats, it's pretty easy to get rep after rep in chin-ups. Usually these same people find that once they go all the way down, the pull becomes much harder, slower, but ultimately, productive.

So yeah, how's your Chin-up ROM looking like? I'm assuming no kipping or swinging. hehe.
 

Baron von Raschke

Level 3 Valued Member
To add, I think it might make more sense to concern yourself with imbalances between say, pull-ups and dips; and push and a pull, as opposed to two pulls.
Correct, Harry. Everything I've read here and elsewhere says the imbalances to worry about are push/pull imbalances, such as pullups and dips as you said, or pushups and horizontal pulls. Those kinds of imbalances cause improper positioning of the bones within the joints which can lead to premature wear and injury. The muscle imbalances can also reduce your strength as the nervous system will automatically dial back a muscle's ability to contract if it senses a joint instability or anything that might lead to an injury. Classic example is beach muscles leading to shoulder injuries. Way too many pushing exercises without an equal amount of pulling (bench presses should be complemented with horizontal pulls).

What Steve said about holding a shoe between your knees is a good cue to tighten your core and lower body. I have to really focus during pulls and chins to tighten my legs, especially. I think I'm ok with my hollow position but many times I notice my legs are just along for the ride. Tighten everything!
 

JeffC

Level 7 Valued Member
I have a similar problem. My strict chin ups, and neutral grip pull-up are 6 solid reps on an all out set, but only one strict pull-up. My mixed grip is about 3-4 reps each.

I am heavy, at about 250lb. My max hollow hang is 3.5 minutes so grip is not an issue. I do higher rep half and full kneeling Lat Pull Downs to try and bridge the gap with different attachments, and use band assistance on pull-ups.
 

offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
I have a similar problem. My strict chin ups, and neutral grip pull-up are 6 solid reps on an all out set, but only one strict pull-up. My mixed grip is about 3-4 reps each.

I am heavy, at about 250lb. My max hollow hang is 3.5 minutes so grip is not an issue. I do higher rep half and full kneeling Lat Pull Downs to try and bridge the gap with different attachments, and use band assistance on pull-ups.
Hey George...
Pull-ups have always been a staple for me. A couple of things I have learned (at least from my perspective) are:
Pull-ups require one to engage the whole body whereas Lat Pull Downs do not.
Bands are an option but in my opinion not so effective as one gets diminishing returns the higher up you go. Some folks have their sticking point near the top, where a band is typically of less use.
One thing that I think is top notch for pull-ups is using a pulley counterweight system. I mention this to you because I know that you like to 'tinker' with building cool and unique training tools.
With a counterweight system one can add or subtract whatever weight needed to make the desired reps. It allows for a fine degree of weight control, and the force is constant throughout the full range of motion.
This method works wonders, for pull-up enthusiasts of all levels. It's ideal for people recovering from an injury, people trying to get their first pull-up, and those trying to bridge the gap between reps. I also think that it is a superior method to train for the elusive One Arm Pull-up (elusive to me at least)

The drawback of course is that one needs to build stuff with pulleys, ropes, and such, as well as have a suitable structure to attach everything to.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Yikes. My hollow was not.
A video would really help.

There are two distinct ways of doing pullups - with a big chest, pulling the shoulder blades together and pulling almost straight up into the bottom of the bar, and with a hollow position, shoulders slightly forward, shoulder blades a little spread, and coming up to the side of the bar. The latter technique is what will get you ready for a muscle-up, and is what we call a tactical pullup.

I say this to point out there is nothing wrong with un-hollow pullups, it's just a different way that, around here, we sometimes call bodybuilder pullups.

-S-
 

Karen Smith

Level 6 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
Iron Maiden
I have found on AVERAGE, most people will have 1 solid pullup once they have 3 chins. However, this is just an average from testing many students.

As Steve stated, a video assessment of your technique could be very helpful. It could be something as simple as hand or eye placement.
If you can't load a video here, feel free to send it to me directly and I would be happy to help.
Karen.smith@strongfirst.com
 
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