Article last updated: January 2019 by Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer
When it comes to doing pull ups and chin ups you can use different grip widths.
Here’s a break down of the grip widths.
1) Wide grip: Uses the most back and least biceps.
2) Shoulder-width grip: Uses slightly less back and a lot more biceps.
3) Narrow grip: Uses even less back and more biceps and forearms.
The wide grip will always be hardest for most people and the 2 other grips will vary from person to person but the difference in reps here won’t be huge.
Here’s a normal breakdown of how your reps can look on each if your body is balanced:
Shoulder width grip: 20 reps
Narrow grip: 17-25 reps
Wide grip: 12-15 reps
Notice that I put ranges because some people will have a stronger back and weaker biceps and vice versa.
If you’re just starting out doing wide grip pull ups you may only be able to do 5-6 reps while you can do ~15 shoulder width grip pull ups.
However after a few months your wide grip pull ups will catch up and you will also see a boost in your other pull up variations.
So the big question is, which grip is best for you?
The answer: Start with a regular shoulder-width grip and build your strength up to 15-20 reps.
Then once you have a solid foundation, you can start playing around with the wide and narrow grip variations.
The biggest mistake you can make is to do wide grip pull ups before you have a good base.
The wide grip pull up is not a novice exercise because it puts a lot of extra stress on the shoulders and thereby increases the risk of injury.
Be proud but stay hungry!
Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer