Are chin-ups/pull-ups a waste of time?

  • Noeton

    Posts: 208

    Aug 06, 2014 7:11 AM GMT
    Last summer I didn't go to the gym but was running almost everyday in a nearby park where I would do 3-6 sets of chin ups every morning. At the beginning of the summer I could do 6 per set, by mid-fall my max was 11 per set. Since mid-June I've been going to the gym and regularly lifting heavier weights and working the full body -- but no chin-ups since starting the gym workouts. Today I went to the gym and had an intense full-body workout, went home and (maybe foolishly) did pushups and dumbbell shoulder presses -- then I was aching so much I had to soak in the bath. Then around 10pm went for a walk in the park and decided (again probably foolishly) to try chin-ups. After a full day and all that exercise I thought I'd be lucky if a got maybe 6 reps or so. I did 13 in a set the first 11 of which were easier than ever. To me -- admittedly a novice at this stuff -- this seems to indicate that doing chin-ups to get better at chin-ups is a waste of time since I got so much better, faster, at chin-ups by doing other exercises (while when I did a lot of them progress was much slower). What do you think?
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    Aug 06, 2014 12:22 PM GMT
    You likely WERE doing pull-ups in the gym, in the sense that you were developing nearly the same muscles with your weights and work outs. A good trainer can demonstrate to you which muscles your routines have been benefiting, and compare them to pull-ups. Without seeing them ourselves it's difficult to say for certain, but I would be reasonably confident you were developing some of the same muscles you need for pull-ups.

    Furthermore, you saw slow development at first when just doing pull-ups because it takes 6 weeks or more of exercise to prompt significant mucle growth. In the beginning you're mainly just toning and developing exercise form. Thereafter you will see steady growth of new muscle. Plus also some continuing growth even after you stop specific exercises.

    That can be why you perceived more muscle increase and better results when you transitioned to the gym. Your pull-up phase was just getting your muscle growth started, which at first would have shown little results. Once you began to actually grow muscle you perceived real gains, and those have happened since you're began working in the gym. But the foundation for them could have started with the outdoor pull-ups.
  • dc415

    Posts: 255

    Aug 06, 2014 3:07 PM GMT
    you were probably just fatigued from doing them every single day.

    to get better at chinups, do more chinups.
  • Destinharbor

    Posts: 4433

    Aug 06, 2014 3:14 PM GMT
    One thing I've learned over the years in a gym is that everything does something. After you have the basic big moves mastered and fully a part of every workout (for that specific muscle routine), the best thing you can do is add a variety of combination moves into the mix. Pullups/chinups are a great mix of arm, shoulder, back and chest. They keep everything in balance and work the smaller stabilizer muscles which will keep you from hurting yourself through muscle imbalance. They won't grow the big show muscles as much but they will bring out the definition and that stranded edges look.
  • jjguy05

    Posts: 459

    Aug 06, 2014 3:55 PM GMT
    Pullups and chinups work mostly the lats and the biceps. Depending on the type of grip (reverse or supinated [hands facing you], pronated [hands facing away from you], or neutral [hands facing each other]), and depending on the width of the grip (wide, narrow, shoulder-width), you can emphasize the upper lats, the lower lats, or the biceps.

    No, they're not a waste of time. They're an excellent strength and mass builder. Because you got strong on body-weight chinups/pullups, it's time to start doing them with a weight attached to you. Buy a dip belt, and start adding plates to it. 10 lbs, 20 lbs, etc.

    Also do lat pulldowns, rows, and all that good stuff in the gym. But keep doing the pullups and chinups.

    And if you want to put on mass, you're gonna have to stop running. You can do maybe up to 20 minutes-worth (including rests) of short sprints (of no more than 15 seconds each). But if you're jogging, stop doing that.

    Enjoy and watch your back and biceps gradually grow.
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    Aug 06, 2014 4:16 PM GMT
    Just saw them on a top 5 list of best exercises. The best trainers are advising working muscle groups rather individual muscles. Heavy Squats are on that list as well and they are fastest way to gain that extra 35 lbs you are looking for. They will make you eat like a horse which is a life style change that guys that want to get huge often miss . You look great at your " natural" weight.
  • jjguy05

    Posts: 459

    Aug 06, 2014 4:20 PM GMT
    Alpha13 saidJust saw them on a top 5 list of best exercises. The best trainers are advising working muscle groups rather individual muscles...


    Yes.

    But, there's a major benefit to working individual muscles, after you've done the compound movements. But working only individual muscles is stupid.
  • kuroshiro

    Posts: 786

    Aug 06, 2014 5:10 PM GMT
    When I was training to try out for OCS, I was doing push-ups and pull-ups 5 days a week in a mixed up program. I was also doing my normal weight training. When I first started, I was in the same boat... I could barely finish out at 6 or so, but by the time I was done and ready to try out, I was hammering out almost 20 per set. While lifting alone will help, if it wasn't for the repetitive nature of doing them 5 days a week, I wouldn't have gotten to where I was. Of course now I'm lucky if I can hammer out 12 dead hangs in a set icon_sad.gif
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    Aug 06, 2014 5:13 PM GMT
    This is what pull-ups create:

    031c76b8e584b92e00d97ca564dd2675.jpg

    Technique is one of the big factors. Time for healing is the next (as in, rest, so that the muscle can build). Diet is a huge part as well.

    Skipping any will encourage injury and/or atrophy from overtraining. Doing chin-ups nearly every day is overtraining; from your story it sounds like this is the novice mistake you made.

    Undertraining these muscles will cause incomplete development, so you know, yeah, they're not a waste of time.
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    Aug 06, 2014 6:31 PM GMT
    switch to weighted chin ups!
  • FRE0

    Posts: 4862

    Aug 06, 2014 7:57 PM GMT
    dougyang saidswitch to weighted chin ups!


    Right!

    When I was much younger, I was able to do more than 20 unweighted chin-ups and was almost able to to a chin-up with one arm. I started using a weight strap around my waist. Opinions vary, but in general, unless there is a reason to do more reps, I would suggest adding weight when it becomes possible to do 13 repetitions reliably. When progress stops or becomes too slow, then increase the weight so that only 10 repetitions are possible. Doing an exercise which exercises the same muscles two days in a row can result in a loss of strength or injuries.

    I alternate chin-ups with lat pull-downs but they do almost the same thing. For chin-ups and curls, I have to have my palms facing each other else my elbows cause problems.

    Regarding running, unless your sole goal is to add as much muscle mass as possible with no other consideration, I would recommend running moderate distances to increase endurance. There is such a thing as balance and running endurance is part of that balance. Running three miles twice per week at a moderate pace, perhaps 8 minutes per mile, combined with intervals once per week, should be reasonable. When I was in my early 50s, I was still able to run 10 miles slightly faster than a pace of 7 minutes per mile. Limiting oneself to only high intensity running could leave one with no ability to run longer distances with ease.
  • roadbikeRob

    Posts: 14303

    Aug 06, 2014 11:27 PM GMT
    Noeton saidLast summer I didn't go to the gym but was running almost everyday in a nearby park where I would do 3-6 sets of chin ups every morning. At the beginning of the summer I could do 6 per set, by mid-fall my max was 11 per set. Since mid-June I've been going to the gym and regularly lifting heavier weights and working the full body -- but no chin-ups since starting the gym workouts. Today I went to the gym and had an intense full-body workout, went home and (maybe foolishly) did pushups and dumbbell shoulder presses -- then I was aching so much I had to soak in the bath. Then around 10pm went for a walk in the park and decided (again probably foolishly) to try chin-ups. After a full day and all that exercise I thought I'd be lucky if a got maybe 6 reps or so. I did 13 in a set the first 11 of which were easier than ever. To me -- admittedly a novice at this stuff -- this seems to indicate that doing chin-ups to get better at chin-ups is a waste of time since I got so much better, faster, at chin-ups by doing other exercises (while when I did a lot of them progress was much slower). What do you think?
    Doing chin ups/pull ups is not a waste of time. They help strengthen your upper body and really work the chest. If you want a "real waste of time", try to have an intelligent conversation with a Texan.
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    Aug 07, 2014 2:44 AM GMT
    roadbikeRob saidDoing chin ups/pull ups is not a waste of time. They help strengthen your upper body and really work the chest. If you want a "real waste of time", try to have an intelligent conversation with a Texan.


    This Texan believes there are better exercises for your chest. I suggest the chin-ups are for your back.

    If you want a real waste of time, find a post from roadbikeRob that doesn't trash Texans.
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    Aug 07, 2014 3:01 AM GMT
    jjguy05 saidEnjoy and watch your back and biceps gradually grow.


    biiiiiiceps.. icon_surprised.gif
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    Aug 07, 2014 3:07 AM GMT
    Pull-ups are awesome. I start every upper body workout session with pull-ups. 15+ for the first set, then 10+ next set, then whatever energy I have on the last set. icon_cool.gif
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    Aug 07, 2014 4:27 AM GMT
    Are chin-ups and pull-ups more effective than push ups?
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    Aug 07, 2014 5:28 AM GMT
    mickeytopogigio said
    roadbikeRob saidDoing chin ups/pull ups is not a waste of time. They help strengthen your upper body and really work the chest. If you want a "real waste of time", try to have an intelligent conversation with a Texan.

    This Texan believes there are better exercises for your chest. I suggest the chin-ups are for your back.

    Yes, they're for the lats and biceps.

    It's all about muscle contractions. Pushups are causing your upper arms to move inwards towards your chest; the lower arms/forearms are moving outwards so the triceps are also getting worked. With dumbell flys the contraction of the pectorals is more obvious from the motion, and it isolates the pectorals.

    Rowing and pullups work the lats and biceps.

    Move an appendage and figure out which muscles are being contracted; it's simple once you understand that concept.
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    Aug 07, 2014 6:08 AM GMT
    mickeytopogigio said
    roadbikeRob saidDoing chin ups/pull ups is not a waste of time. They help strengthen your upper body and really work the chest. If you want a "real waste of time", try to have an intelligent conversation with a Texan.

    If you want a real waste of time, find a post from roadbikeRob that doesn't trash Texans.

    Don't mind roadbikeRob, he's just ill-humored because his true love, jmusmc, has been gone from RJ for too long.
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    Aug 07, 2014 3:38 PM GMT
    kevex saidAre chin-ups and pull-ups more effective than push ups?


    Push-ups are effective for chest. Pull-ups are effective for back. Some small crossover effect, but they're pretty targeted.
  • jjguy05

    Posts: 459

    Aug 07, 2014 8:53 PM GMT
    kevex saidAre chin-ups and pull-ups more effective than push ups?


    They can't be compared, because they're opposites. It's like asking, is eating protein more effective than eating vegetables? You need both.

    Pushups are a pushing exercise that recruit the chest and triceps to do work. Pullups/chinups are a pulling exercise, that recruit the back and biceps. As mickey pointed out, there's a little crossover. But for practical purposes, just think of:

    pullups/chinups = back and biceps
    pushups = chest and triceps

    They each do different things, so you need both.

    Now, as you get stronger, you can add weight to a belt for chinups and pullups. You can't really do that with pushups. You can have a friend add a plate to your back, but just get on the bench and start doing bench presses.
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    Aug 08, 2014 1:52 AM GMT
    No, they're not a waste of time at all! You said you did them every morning on your walk. You shouldn't do the same exercise every day. You need to give your muscles a rest. That's probably why you could do more pullups when you stopped doing them everyday and were in the gym doing various exercises.
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    Aug 08, 2014 2:16 AM GMT
    grizzle09 saidNo, they're not a waste of time at all! You said you did them every morning on your walk. You shouldn't do the same exercise every day. You need to give your muscles a rest. That's probably why you could do more pullups when you stopped doing them everyday and were in the gym doing various exercises.

    Good point. High reps / cardio stuff like running you can do every day but with weight training you need to give your muscles a day's rest.
  • roadbikeRob

    Posts: 14303

    Aug 08, 2014 2:30 AM GMT
    mickeytopogigio said
    roadbikeRob saidDoing chin ups/pull ups is not a waste of time. They help strengthen your upper body and really work the chest. If you want a "real waste of time", try to have an intelligent conversation with a Texan.


    This Texan believes there are better exercises for your chest. I suggest the chin-ups are for your back.

    If you want a real waste of time, find a post from roadbikeRob that doesn't trash Texans.
    Oh shit, that human lunk alarm from Austin, Texas just went off again spewing his poisonous venom about me.
  • mmmship

    Posts: 152

    Aug 08, 2014 5:42 PM GMT
    Waste of time? Do you mean you are already a master at it?

    You mean, you can wear a chain of 90lbs around you and complete sets of pull ups? What about muscle ups? You can do the human flag too?

    What about simply doing chest to bar? Or use different grips? So are you at a point where you can set up a solo performance using the pull up bar on stage or an act in a circus performance, and even then, it is still not a waste of time.
  • Noeton

    Posts: 208

    Aug 08, 2014 6:09 PM GMT
    Thanks for all the replies! I didn't think of weighted chin-ups -- I'll have try that. Which leads me to my next question:

    What's the best rep range on weighted chin-ups/pull-ups for growth of muscle mass? In other words when would you increase the weight you're lifting?

    Thank you!