Inverted rows, TRX Rows, pull-ups, and chin-ups are all amazing “pulling” exercises, and even Arnold Schwarzenegger swore by pull-ups and chin-ups to build his amazing V-shaped back.
Each one has its own benefits, but these are all outstanding exercises and you should include them all in your workout routines if possible.
However, for a lot of people, one of these awesome pulling exercises is going to be better than the other choices due to your current physical condition and a variety of other factors.
So, let’s get into the differences between the pullup, chin-up, inverted row, and TRX row to help decide which is best for you!
Why Should You Do Pull-Ups, Chin-ups, and Inverted Rows?
Your back is made up of a large number of muscles, both big and small. Due to that, no workout routine for back muscles is complete without a wide variety of exercises, and it is certainly not enough just to do deadlifts and heavy rows!
A real back routine will take advantage of many different angles and exercises. The two basic types of pulling exercises include the horizontal pull (inverted rows or TRX rows), and the vertical pull (pull-ups or chin-ups).
Both types of pulling are necessary to be included in your workout program because they work on different muscles of your back to different extents.
Pull-ups, chin-ups, and inverted rows are all functional movements that work the various muscles in your back effectively!
Together, these exercises will help you give you that amazing V-shaped physique you have always dreamed of!
Benefits of Pull-ups, Chin-ups, and Inverted Rows
The basic difference between the inverted row, pull-up, and chin-up, is that the inverted row is a horizontal pull while the other two are vertical pulls.
The difference between chinups and pullups is that chinups are done with your palms facing you (a supinated grip), while pullups are done with your palms facing away from the body (a pronated grip) and usually with a wider grip/
Changing between a horizontal and a vertical pull, and changing the grip direction and width, changes the muscles that are used in the exercise, but they also have many similar effects.
By including all of these exercises in your workout routine, you will work nearly all of the muscles in your back!
Not only do these exercises help you develop an aesthetic physique, but they also help improve your posture and prevent muscle imbalances, especially for people who do a lot of bench pressing.
Here are some of the specific benefits of chinups, pull-ups, and inverted rows:
Benefits of Pull-ups
As I mentioned before, pull-ups are done with a pronated grip, and most people do them with a wider grip than chin-ups.
Due to that, pull-ups are the best pulling exercise for your lats.
Additionally, pull-ups place a great emphasis on the major muscles in your upper back, such as your trapezius and erector spinae.
The primary benefit of pull-ups vs chinups or inverted rows is that they are better for helping you develop a wider back, so it appears that you have a smaller waist.
However, pull-ups are generally considered the most difficult pulling exercise, so you might want to consider mastering the TRX inverted row, traditional inverted row, and chinup first.
My two favorite workout program for pull-ups is Every Minute on the Minute training. Also, a simpler approach is to perform 50 total pull-ups in as few sets as possible.
Benefits of Chin-ups
Since chin-ups are done with a supinated grip (underhanded), they utilize slightly different muscles than pull-ups even though they are both vertical pulling exercises.
Chinups are a great exercise for your lats as well, but they also target your biceps a bit more.
For most people, chinups are slightly easier to do, which is one of the main benefits of chinups.
Personally, I prefer to do neutral grip chinups, which is a variation between traditional chinups and pullups.
Benefits of Inverted Rows
Inverted rows are a horizontal pull that are usually done with a pronated grip. Compared with the pullup and chinup, inverted rows are generally a bit easier to perform, and they are very beginner-friendly because you can start with your heels on the ground to reduce the amount of resistance.
Inverted rows work the major muscles of your back like your lats, as well as the middle back muscles.
Inverted rows are an excellent exercise because they are also easier on your shoulder because the movement is more natural than vertical pulling exercises like the pullup and chinup.
Here is a video of me performing inverted rows with a yoga ball, which is a more advanced inverted row variation:
Benefits of TRX Inverted Rows
TRX inverted rows are actually quite different than traditional inverted rows because instead of using a barbell to row from, you will use a TRX Suspenion Cable, which makes the exercise much more difficult.
However, the good part is that you can start with easier variations where your feet are on the ground and you are nearly standing upright, and gradually work your way up to more difficult levels.
TRX inverted rows also might be better for some people because they allow your shoulders to move through a more natural range of motion, which can be beneficial for people with shoulder pain.
Due to that, the TRX row is a very helpful warm-up exercise.
Inverted Rows vs Pull Ups vs Chin Ups
Although I have mentioned some of these already, I wanted to quickly summarize the key differences between pull-ups, chin-ups and the inverted row:
- Pull-ups and chinups have a vertical position, while inverted rows are a horizontal pull. Due to this difference, the muscles used will be different.
- All of these movements work your rhomboids, mid and lower traps, lats, shoulders, biceps, your core, and forearms, but pull-ups focus more on your lats. Contrarily, inverted rows place emphasis on your mid and lower traps, and your rhomboids.
- Chin-ups and pull-ups have a generally more positive impact on your shoulders and chest, due to the necessary scapular retraction. On the other hand, inverted rows primarily work a wider-scope of back muscles.
- The difficulty level of inverted rows is more easily interchangeable, helping you become better at chin-ups and pull-ups over time.
Along with these movements, people commonly confuse the fact that the traditional “lat pull-down” is just as effective for working your back muscles.
In some ways this is true, but in others, it is a far inferior movement.
The good thing about traditional lat pull-downs is that you can utilize a large amount of weight, and work muscles which are limited by your body weight through pull-ups.
The bad side, however, is that you get little to no core engagement and it isn’t very functional for your body overall.
I am not saying that you should not do lat pull-downs, but for athletes, it can definitely add quite a bit of “heavy” muscle which isn’t functional for your sport.
I have found one variation which I personally like, as it engages your core quite a bit more than the traditional lat pull down.
You can see it below:
How to Do Pullups, Chinups, and Inverted Rows at Home
Most gyms or fitness centers have pullup or chinup stations and a place to do inverted rows, and many even offer TRX Suspension cables. However, if you want to do these at home, there is relatively affordable equipment you can buy.
For pull-ups or chinups, you are going to want a free-standing pull-up bar or doorway pullup bar you can find.
As an affordable doorway pullup bar, I suggest the KOMSURF Doorway Pull Up Bar:
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For TRX inverted rows, you will need a place in your house to hook the TRX and a TRX Suspension system.
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Concluding Thoughts – Inverted Rows, Pull-ups & Chin-ups
Depending on your current level of fitness, all three of these exercises have a place in your workout routine.
I do have some simple advice for you though.
The first piece of advice which I would like to share is that you should never, ever, compromise form on a single rep of these.
Although these are bodyweight exercises, the strain on your joints can be just as much as when doing weighted training, if performed incorrectly. Ensure proper training habits early, and do not force reps out unnecessarily.
I am all for pushing your limits in strength, but not at the expense of joint health.
Next, I recommend primarily doing pull-ups and inverted rows. In my opinion, chin-ups can be damaging to your elbows over time, so you should focus on pullups and inverted rows. Chin-ups may seem easier for you in the beginning, but over time, they will wear on you.
Additionally, one of the easiest ways you can increase your ability to perform pull-ups, inverted rows or chin ups, is to start to work with Fat Gripz. Fat Gripz can quickly increase your “pulling” strength, due to strengthening your hands.
Also, this will help protect your elbows, since your hands and forearms will be able to do more “work” in the movement.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to add weights to these movements once you progress with them!
Challenging the stability of each movement in different and unique ways will help you build an immensely stronger body overall.
As soon as you are comfortable, go ahead and attack these movements!
Add these movements into your routine in whichever way is best for you because they are three effective exercises that will help you build the body of your dreams!
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