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What muscles or muscle groups are targeted by these different variations of pull-ups: 1.) standard (overhanded), 2.) chin-ups (underhanded), and 3.) the neutral or parallel close grip pull-out (thumb is nearest the body - can done in an equipment similar to the 'Iron Gym')? What are the differences in the muscles these pull-up variations target?

Illustrations of the neutral or parallel close grip pull-out:

Source: theblondeleadingtheblind.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/ironmike.jpg

Source: asseenontv-wholesale.com/images/fitness/iron_gym_1.jpg

I also would specifically like to know if the modified chin-up as illustrated above, target different muscles compared to a standard pull-up or a standard chin-up? Or does it target similar muscles to one of the two?

Context and reason for question: I would like to know which pull-up variation targets which muscles, so I could use that variation in my workouts and try to focus on a certain muscle. E.g. If my biceps need work (which I do), then I could choose an optimal pull-up variation to use.

I'm also interested in learning what muscles the neutral or parallel close grip pull-up targets (I don't get good results on either Wikipedia or Google), as it is a pull-up variation that can be done in the equipment I use (similar to the 'Iron Gym' equipment).

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Any reason why you'd like to know? Because simply listing a bunch of muscles isn't really useful –  Ivo Flipse Jul 16 '12 at 13:47
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So what goal are you trying to accomplish that requires such information? Then ask how to accomplish the goal and ask for the answer to explain why or how it works the way it works. –  Ivo Flipse Jul 16 '12 at 14:26
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I think the comments have to do with how advanced the user is. If it is a beginner in pull-ups that uses the bar, the fine division of muscle groups matters less than if it is an advanced user. Is it you in one of the pictures? –  FredrikD Jul 16 '12 at 15:30
    
@Galaticninja, you have an earlier question about shoulder problems when doing pull ups, are these questions related? –  FredrikD Jul 16 '12 at 20:34
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You are probably best served by varying and using all possible variations (including grip width). Yes, each variation uses slightly different muscles, but it is better to be well-rounded and that means all variations should be considered. –  VPeric Jul 17 '12 at 8:09
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2 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

The common wisdom is that the chin up (supinated grip) targets the biceps. It also appears to target the pectoralis major. The pull up targets the lower trapezius more. Source

Ellington Darden also says the chin up better targets the lats because the involvement of the biceps means the arms won't give out as quickly as the pull up, allowing the back to get worked.

As for the neutral grip pull up, the best I've been able to find explaining why some people have a much easier time with it than the even chin up (despite that the chin up recruits the bicep more than the neutral grip) is from Mark Rippetoe that it has a better mechanical advantage.

Stef points out that the main advantage is probably mechanical: a neutral grip results in a chest position during the movement much closer to the bar, i.e. a shorter moment arm between shoulder and grip. She is much smarter than I am, and possibly pays closer attention to pullup mechanics.

Also, both supination and pronation of the hands involve various forearm muscles which would be held in isometric contraction while the upper arm and back muscles get to go between concentric and eccentric contraction. So depending on the isometric strength of your forearm muscles, they might reach failure before the upper arm or (much less likely) back muscles do. Explanation of contraction terms

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If the person doesn't even know what muscles are used in this exercise, what makes you think they will know what supinated grip means? While your answer makes sense to me, it's going to be Greek to anyone that is asking what muscles are used. While I admire your polysyllabic tendencies, the target audience and their level of understanding should be considered when phrasing an answer. –  JohnP Jul 16 '12 at 16:28
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@JohnP Downvoting an answer that addresses the question completely and has a source because the correct words are used? That's pretty rough, and not very useful, I think. How about editing the answer to clarify instead. –  michael Jul 16 '12 at 18:39
    
You do realise that the links I provided include the definition of supinated and pronated grips, right? Because you do follow links before deciding whether to upvote or downvote, right? –  Robin Ashe Jul 16 '12 at 18:54
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JohnP, you can always just post a better answer, then. If this is the way Robin wants to answer the question, he's obviously free to do so. –  user3085 Jul 16 '12 at 19:10
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@JohnP Some of the terms are indeed new to me, but we all have to start somewhere and this is a good learning exercise, so I think it is a good answer. I already have some idea of what a supinated or pronated grip is, in terms of pull-ups (underhand and overhand, respectively) from reading its Wikipedia article. As for isometric, eccentric, concentric, etc., your edit to the Wikipedia article is useful, and I'll read that. If I have more questions, I can always ask again on Physical Fitness SE, right? =) –  galacticninja Jul 17 '12 at 3:11
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The modified version that you are asking about it known as the "parallel close grip pull-up".

The main target of all of these is the latissimus dorsi.

The additional muscles worked during the chin-up and parallel close grip pull-up are the brachialis, brachioradialis, teres major, posterior deltoid, rhomboids, levator scapulae, lower trapezius, middle trapezius, sternal pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, with the biceps brachii and the long head of the triceps as dynamic stabilizers. (References: here and here.)

The additional muscles worked during the pull-up are the, brachialis, brachioradialis, biceps brachii, teres major, posterior deltoid, infraspinatus, teres minor, rhomboids, levator scapulae, lower trapezius, middle trapezius, pectoralis minor, with the long head of the triceps as a dynamic stabilizer. (Reference: here.)

The differences between the exercises are italicized.

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Thanks for mentioning the name of that pull-up variation. I have edited that into my question. –  galacticninja Jul 17 '12 at 2:45
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