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I'm mid 40's and have a great 3 X weekly program. Great for me in that it is tough enough and works for me as I'm getting good muscle tone and core strength. I am, however, in some confusion about pullups and body weight rows. Below is my program:

  • Ring Dips
  • Pullups
  • Squats
  • Ring Pushups
  • Body Weight Rows
  • Standing Barbell press

I do each about 8-10 reps (weighted vest as needed) with a 15-20 sec break between each rep and three sets. I want to build biceps, so I use the underhand grip for pullups but I dont want to lose the effectiveness of of overhand pullup to strengthen lats. Does the body weight row support that and can I stick to underhand pullups and body weight rows to gain the advantage of bicep strength and lat strength?

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+1 for a very good question as this is pretty popular on the internet itself. –  DrTrungNguyen Apr 7 '13 at 22:36
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1 Answer

up vote 3 down vote accepted

First of all, you might want to read this article, "Pull-up or Chin-up" by Mike Reinold to get a better understanding regarding chin-ups and pull-ups in general.

The truth is that chin-ups and pull-ups both target your lats somewhat equally (no significant difference according to EMG studies); however, as you know already that chin-ups will isolate the biceps a little more, according to EMG studies.

So, if you really want to target your biceps more without losing the lat isolation, then yes you should stick with chin-ups from now on.

Regarding the body weight rows (sometimes referred to as inverted rows), this is just another variation (easier) for the chin-ups or the pull-ups. With that being said, you can continue with the underhand gripped inverted row in addition to adding a few sets of eccentric chin-ups towards the end of your workout.

I say you should try 3 sets of max of the eccentric chin-ups before you call it a day. Don't be surprised if your biceps are extremely sore the next few days. This is due to the fact that eccentric strengthening has been shown to damage more muscle fibers, but no worries, with proper rest and nutrition along with good sleep, your biceps will grow bigger.

Good luck!

Hope this helps!

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great info, thanks. The link gives great data (and other stuff too). Instead of the inverted rows I may just alternate between chin up and pull ups which will most likely give me more energy to complete more max. –  Andrew Findlay Apr 7 '13 at 1:28
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Another question, please. My routine above is done with ONE set of each exercise (3 rotations). This morning I was interrupted (for 5 minutes) at the end of the second rotation. When I started on the last (3rd) rotation I had a much higher capacity to complete more reps. So I'm wondering if doing three sets of each exercise in succession with longer rest periods is more effective at muscle failure than doing the rotation method. Doing this in rotation I get high heart rate with cross-fit type workout. Can you explain what the benefit of each would be? –  Andrew Findlay Apr 7 '13 at 1:34
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Basically, when you rested (interrupted) for 5 minutes, your muscles were able to recruit more available ATP (energy) to use for the next round. This explained why you were able to perform more reps at a higher capacity after you rested longer. On the other hand, your heart rate was higher when you exercised at your normal routine (high intensity interval training) because you put a greater demand on both your muscle (locally) and your heart (globally), thus your heart had to work harder to deliver oxygen to your muscles (higher heart rate). –  DrTrungNguyen Apr 7 '13 at 2:24
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Lastly, it all depends on your goals to whether you should workout with high intensity interval training or with more rest in between. To increase strength and muscle mass, you need to lift at the ranges of 4-12 reps most of the time. This will require more rest (1-3 minutes) between set. To increase fitness level, you can keep doing what you've been doing (high intensity interval training); however, this will result in inability to increase the load, thus may lead to poor increasing muscle strength and mass. –  DrTrungNguyen Apr 7 '13 at 2:28
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@AndrewFindlay That's correct! –  DrTrungNguyen Apr 7 '13 at 15:32
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