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Do Chin-Ups Work Chest? (Are They Good For Chest?)

Chin-ups are part of many gym-goers training programs.

They’re a great exercise for building your back, arms, shoulders, and core…

But are they actually beneficial for your chest too?

That’s exactly what we look at in this article.

We look at whether chin-ups have a place in chest workouts as well as discuss why some people might feel pain in their chest muscles during and after chin-ups. 

Do Chin-Ups Work Chest?

Your chest muscles, in particular the pectoralis major activate during chin-ups.

They come into play during the upward phase of the movement when you’re pulling yourself up towards the bar.

Although your chest muscles play a part in chin-ups, they don’t work nearly as hard as the primary muscles involved in the movement.

Your lats and biceps will be the muscles doing most of the work in chin-ups, but your chest (and other muscles) will assist at various points.

Why Do Some People Feel Chest Pain During Chin-Ups?

There are a number of reasons why some people may feel muscular chest pain during pull-ups.

Normal Working Muscle Discomfort

As your chest forms part of the working muscles involved in chin-ups, some mild discomfort or pain could be felt during the exercise.

It could be that chest pain felt during chin-ups is perfectly normal and is simply your chest muscles working hard to make the movement happen.

Poor Technique

Errors in your chin-up technique could result in more stress being placed on your chest than expected.

This extra stress can cause pain and could indicate that you need to stop and reset to ensure your technique is correct.


There’s also the possibility that pain felt in your chest during chin-ups is a sign of an injury.

If you experience pain when doing chin-ups (or any other exercise), it could be worth speaking with a medical professional to rule out an injury.

Why Do Some People Feel Chest Pain After Chin-Ups?

There are also several reasons why some people feel muscular chest pain after they finish doing chin-ups.

Working Muscles Recovery Pain

As your chest activates during chin-ups, any discomfort or pain felt afterward could just simply be normal muscular pain caused by the muscles working hard during exercise.

Microscopic tears form in the working muscles and these need to be repaired.

The tears can cause some discomfort so this could be why pain is felt in the chest after chin-ups.


After exercise, you might experience some mild discomfort in the working muscles but this should never turn into pain.

Any pain felt after exercise could be an indication that you’ve picked up an injury.

If you’re worried about pain in your chest muscles, particularly if it lasts for a while, it’s a good idea to speak to a doctor to ensure you haven’t got a serious injury.


If you train your chest too much i.e. doing chin-ups too frequently or increasing the intensity of your workouts too soon, you could experience pain in your chest.

Overloading your muscles is key to muscle growth and development, whereas overtraining is likely to cause fatigue, injury, and lack of progress.

Can You Do Chin-Ups On Chest Day?

You can but they probably won’t have too much impact on your overall chest development.

During chin-ups, your lats are still doing most of the work although your biceps come into play more than they would in a standard pull-up.

The mid to lower section of your pectoralis major activates to assist your back muscles (including your lats) lift your body weight up towards the bar.

While this activation means your chest is working, it isn’t working anywhere near enough to be considered a chest exercise.

Chin-ups would be better suited to back day or maybe even arm day as these muscle groups work much harder than your chest does during the exercise.

Which Muscles Are Chin-Ups Good For?

Like standard pull-ups, chin-ups work your back muscles very effectively. Your lats and your teres major will have to work hard during the movement.

In addition to your back, your biceps work hard in chin-ups too. Your biceps are placed under a lot of stress so can get some great benefits from the exercise.

Your shoulders also come into play during chin-ups making them a great upper body exercise.

Obviously, your chest also plays a small role in chin-ups so this shouldn’t be overlooked.

Chin-ups certainly aren’t a chest exercise but they’re very effective at working multiple muscles in your upper body at the same time.


In summary:

  • While chin-ups do activate your chest, they work other parts like your back and biceps much harder.
  • If you want to build a big chest, you should focus on chest-specific exercises rather than chin-ups.

That’s all for this article, but do chin-ups work triceps? Or you may be wondering why you experience shoulder pain during chin-ups?

Hope this helped!


Chin-Ups Muscles Worked


Wednesday 20th of July 2022

There's probably no evidence to support this other than one's personal experiences. I have been using the assisted pull up/dip machine at my gym for a few months. I found that super setting these with leg press allows perfect recovery time between each set. After the set, I'll decrease the weight, which increases the resistance. The goal is to get as much blood flowing to the targeted muscles as possible and rep till failure/fatigue. Recently, I've studied the best biceps exercise. Chin ups, leaving arms at a 90 degree angle at the top of the movement. To target the biceps brachii (outer arm) and lats more, turn palms away from the body. References : (Chinups vs. Pullups for Bigger Arms) and (Best Exercise For Your Biceps Is NOT Curls). I did chin ups 2 days ago and got more than expected. Not only did my biceps swell, but I felt my chest muscles come to life! My left pectoralis major and right triceps longhead are torn through the center. My right shoulder is injured, any type of chest press irritates it. After doing chin ups, I instantly felt an overwhelming sensation in my chest. I picked a pair of dumbbells, laid on a flat bench, and pumped them out without any pain or discomfort. After every set, I'd go a little heavier. I chose a stopping point and did 3 additional sets because it felt so good. I could literally see a stream of blood veins poking out my upper chest. They looked like a lightning bolts under my shirt.

These chin ups somehow activated my injured chest and sent a lot of blood to my injured shoulder, enabling it to work properly? I felt like I could do more weight, but chose to stop and re-test this exercise again next week. In the past, I've set myself up for disappointment many times. Eventually, I eliminated all upper body pressing exercises from my regimen. I don't know if this I shocked my chest or what? I know I haven't anything like this in 2 decades. I do know that after I tore my chest, the ability to pull up my own bodyweight decreased fast. Within a couple years, I lost all. I don't recall that gym having an assisted pull up machine. They're pretty awesome. I wouldn't have had this experienced without. If its in my head, then I continue to go after bigger biceps. They do work properly.