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What Bicep Head Do Chin-Ups Work? (Long or Short)

If you’re wondering what bicep head chin-ups work, then you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we look at whether chin-ups focus on the short or long head, how to target each head more throughout the exercise, as well as looking at the anatomy of your biceps and which other muscles play a part in the movement.

Topless man performing a chin-up in a park

What Bicep Head Do Chin-Ups Work?

Chin-ups do a good job at working both the short head and the long head of your biceps.

While you can favour one more than the other by changing your hand position on the bar, standard chin-ups bring both heads into play at various points throughout the movement.

Being able to develop both heads of your biceps is very beneficial. There aren’t too many exercises out there that target both heads in one movement.

Chin-ups are a great choice if you want to build some impressive biceps while enjoying a challenging exercise.

How To Target The Long Head More During Chin-Ups

Although chin-ups are great for hitting both heads of your biceps, you may want to focus on one more than the other at various points in your training program.

The easiest way to move the focus more on to the long head of your biceps is to simply move your hands closer together on the bar.

A narrower grip helps bring your bicep’s long head into play a bit more than the short head.

Even bringing your hands a little closer together (less than shoulder width) might be enough for you, but you can go all out and bring them so close that your hands are pretty much touching each other.

When doing chin-ups with your hands close together, your long head will be activating a lot which can help build your bicep peak.

How To Target The Short Head More During Chin-Ups

If you want to focus on building your bicep width, then you’ll want to target the short head of your biceps.

To move more emphasis onto the short head, a slightly wider grip on the bar can be exactly what you need.

Moving your hands a bit further apart, so they’re a little bit wider than shoulder width can be a great way of helping to add width to your biceps.

You might want to go a little wider than this with your hands but you need to be careful that you aren’t putting your elbows, shoulders, and wrists into an unnatural position that could potentially result in pain, discomfort, or maybe even injury.

It may not seem like much of a change, but the position of your hands can change a good amount of focus of your chin-ups.

The Anatomy of Biceps

The biceps highlighted on a muscle diagram of a human

Your biceps are the muscle group responsible for flexion and rotation of your forearms at the elbow.

The muscle itself consists of two heads, the long head, and the short head. The long head of your biceps is the one that most gym-goers tend to focus on as it’s the head that creates the highly sought after biceps peak.

The short head of your biceps is the head that’s responsible for the width of the muscle.

A big bicep peak is good but a wide bicep can create the appearance of some truly big arms.

If you can target both the short and the long head of your biceps effectively, it won’t be too long before your arms can be bigger and stronger than you may think they could be.


In summary:

  • Chin-ups work both bicep heads effectively.
  • You can target the long head more during chin-ups by using a narrow grip on the bar.
  • Using a wider grip during chin-ups will help focus the short head.

That’s all for this article, but do chin-ups work abs? Or are chin-ups good for biceps?

Hope this helped!


The Biceps Anatomy