The many variations of the basic chinup allow you to create a workout fine-tuned to your needs. Changing your grip or the position of your hands on the bar can help you to isolate and build strength and definition in specific arm muscles. Many exercisers incorporate different versions of the chinup into their arm workouts, adding weights and varied hand positions to increase resistance.
The lats and the upper arms -- specifically the brachioradialis -- gain benefits when you incorporate chinups into your routine. If you’re a beginner, start by having a spotter assist you or use wrist straps for more support. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart and start with your arms straight; then bend at the elbows as you pull your chin up past the bar. Slowly release and return to the start position.
Neutral-grip chinups are performed similarly to regular chinups but with a different hand position. These are performed on chinup bars that have neutral-grip handles, allowing your palms to face each other rather than away from or toward you. Beginners should work up to unassisted neutral-grip chinups by doing lat pulldowns or performing the exercise on a neutral-grip chinup machine.
How to Compare
The hand placement in the neutral-grip chinup is said to be more stable for the shoulders; thus, those who have shoulder pain or have injured their shoulder in the past may prefer neutral-grip chinups over regular chinups. Some simply feel that the neutral grip feels more natural for them while performing the exercise, while others feel that regular chinups work fine for their purposes, especially when no neutral-grip handlebars are available.
Listen to Your Body
With either type of chinup, it is important to listen to your body and make accommodations for pain or discomfort. If you can’t perform either style alone, ask for assistance from a spotter or use an assisted pullup machine to support your body. If you feel that the exercise has grown too easy and you are no longer getting the workout you need from a set of 12 to 15 chinups, you may add weights by holding a dumbbell between your ankles or by wearing a weight belt that allows you to suspend weight plates from your torso.