Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups for a V-Shaped Torso

Updated on January 28, 2019
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Michael is an online fitness writer who's an expert in strength training exercises.


Pull-ups and chin-ups are great body weight exercises for building muscle. They works your back, arms and to a lesser extent your abs, chest, and shoulders. You reach your arms into the air, grab a horizontal bar, lift your whole body into the air, and then lower yourself. The objective is to lift your head past the bar so you chin is above it. When you lower yourself you should not touch the ground.

The difference between a pull-up and a chin-up is the grip. For chin-ups the palms are facing you. When doing a pull-up the palms face away from you. Chin-ups are easier and work you biceps more. You can also do a neutral grip pull-up with the palms facing each other. They are very simple and very effective exercise. I did not have a bar so I used a tree branch.


The lifts should be slow and steady. Don't swing around and try to use momentum or just drop when lowering yourself. If you can not lift yourself up then just do your best. Trying is enough to strengthen your muscles. You don't need to get your chin over the bar to benefit from the exercise. It is better to maintain good form than try to cheat so you can do more repetitions.

If you can do 20 pull-ups or chin-ups per set you might want to increase the weight. You can do that by holding a dumbbell between your legs, wearing a backpack or wearing a weighted belt. If you have ankle weights you could also use them. Of course you could also try one handed pull-ups or chin ups to double the weight. Another option would be to do other exercises first so your muscles are already experiencing some muscle fatigue.

Grip Width

The grip is usually narrow for chin-ups and wide for pull-ups. Narrow being less than shoulder width and wide being greater than shoulder width. When using a wide grip the focus is on your upper lats. A narrow grip works the top and bottom portion of your lats as well as your biceps. The wide grip can be harder on your wrists. Besides using the lats more it also puts more stress on the teres major muscle. It is a back muscle close to your arm pits that is used when pulling.


Stabilizing yourself works your core muscles including your abs just like balance exercises do. To give your abs more of a workout you can raise your legs. Keep them straight and form a L shape or bend your knees. L pull-ups are great for developing strong hard abdominal muscles. You should feel them working more as soon as you raise your legs.

V Shaped Torso

The latissimus dorsi muscles also known as lats are the broadest back muscles. A V-shaped torso can make men and women look healthier and more attractive. For women it is part of the hourglass figure and for men it can make them look stronger. To get a V shaped upper body you need to increase the width of your back by developing your lats. You can build your lat muscles by doing pull ups and chin ups. Most people that do pull ups also do chin ups but if you were going to do one or the other do wide pull ups. I recommend variety in your grip and in the number of repetitions.

If you have extra fat you may need to do additional exercises and maintain a healthy diet to get rid of it. Before working on getting a V shaped upper body I did a lot of cardio to get rid of most of my extra body fat. Women do not build muscle as easily as men. So they don't need to worry about bulking up when doing pull ups and chin ups.

Most men will not bulk up either. At least not unless they are trying to bulk up. They are more likely to get more of a lean muscular athletic look.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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