Chin-up, Pull-up, PotAYto, PotAHto


Last Saturday one of our members at Iron Body Studios, Michelle (who I met at my workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift NYC in September 2015 and who has been training with us since October 2015), achieved an amazing accomplishment.

Michelle completed her first ever unassisted, underhand grip pull-up. Not just once, but twice, because I missed getting it on video the first time around so I ask her if she had a second one in her.

Sure enough, she did…

I posted this incredible accomplishment on social media and the caption read “Pull-up ALERT! Michelle S. crushed her first pull-up…”

Shortly after I posted this video someone commented on the video,

“Chin up. Not pull up.”

I did not like this comment, and in fact as Michelle’s coach it really pissed me off, and this is why,

This comment, whether it was the person’s intent to be negative, it was negative. It is generally known that a “chin-up”, supinated, or underhand grip pull-up, is an easier pull-up grip. For some reason this person thought it was necessary to highlight this difference and in my eyes the goal of this comment appeared to downgrade the value of the achievement because this person felt the need to make sure everyone on social media knew that it was a “chin-up” and not a “pull-up”.

Social media can be a really amazing tool, but it can also be something that breeds negativity, naysayers, and trolls.

My response to this comment,

“They are all pull-ups, it’s just a variation in hand placement, underhand, overhand, neutral. Potato, potAto.”pull-up-under-hand-grip

When a person hangs from a bar, and then pulls themselves up and gets their head over the bar without any assistance, no matter the grip, it is a PULL-UP.

Yes, there are different variations in hand placement,

  • Underhand, supinated, often referred to as a “chin-up”;
  • Neutral grip;pullup_neutral_grip
  • Overhand, pronated, often referred to as a “pull-up”; and
  • Tactical, which is an overhand thumbless grip.

The variation in hand placement determines the anatomical position of the joint. Underhand (supinated) and neutral are easier grips (hand placements) out of all four, and most people tend to complete their first pull-up with one of these grips BUT it doesn’t make it any less of an accomplishment than if they had completed their first overhand (pronated) grip pull-up.pull up prone grip

When I was training for the Iron Maiden Challenge I had to specifically complete an overhand, tactical grip (thumbless grip), pull-up from a dead-hang. However, this was a strength challenge with specific rules that I had to meet in order to complete the challenge. I do not hold my clients to such details, unless they are specifically training for the Iron Maiden Challenge. In fact when they pull themselves up from standing rather than a dead-hang, it still counts as a pull-up. It just means that the next progression for them to work on is completing a pull-up (whatever the grip) from a dead-hang.

Dead-Hang Pull-up IM_No Text

Michelle’s accomplishment is no less amazing than Iron Body Studios’ member Dori’s accomplishment of overhand grip pull-ups, which also happened last week,

As a coach it is my goal, and my job, to build people up and celebrate their accomplishments equally, and not to tear them down and pick apart minor technicalities of a movement that may end up downgrading their accomplishment.

Michelle hung from a bar and pulled herself up over the bar unassisted. It’s a PULL-UP.

Chin-up, Pull-up, PotAYto, PotAHto.


If you’d like to learn more about technique and programming to achieve YOUR first unassisted pull-up or even band assisted or weighted pull-up, if you have already been working on unassisted pull-ups, then I hope that you will join me for one of my upcoming I Am Not Afraid To Lift Workshops on either,

  1. April 2, 2016 in Severna Park, Maryland at Dauntless Fitness and Health; or at
  2. Results Driven Fitness Systems on April 17, 2016 in Monroe-Woodbury, New York.

Register for the workshop HERE under the “Events” tab.

Learn more about the workshop HERE.

Read and watch testimonials and footage from past workshops HERE. Including this awesome video of women from I Am Not Afraid To Lift Australia completing weighted pull-ups!

Register for the workshop HERE under the “Events” tab.

Lift Australia 2016

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