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Dumbell Rows or Chin-Ups


What is a better upper-back/lat developer, what have you felt gave you the best results? Chin-ups or Rows?

I've currently been doing 1-armed Dumbell Rows for the upper back but I have this idea that Chin-ups might be a more practical lift that might translate to the real world more readily.




Chins are a vertical pulling movement,depending on the angle rows are horizontal.


Rows allow you to target the impact with different grip widths and pulling to the abs, chest, etc. Chins can also be done to the chest, with different grip widths, etc. Rows also recruit more rear delt than chins. These are different exercises, and what you are trying to accomplish will determine which is better at a given time.


If you had to choose between Rows or Chins what would you choose?


CHINS. Apart form being able to do sternum chins they will also develop the bis and forearms...well, not the best argument...but my friends and I got highly visible back development from chins. And bi and shoulder. Not to mention chins are great for your abs :smiley:


I think your idea is right. Chin ups are great especially for real world strength in my opinion.

Rows are fine too, but I prefer barbell to dumbell rows.

If I had to live with only one it would be chin ups.


Why choose one? Why not do chins and some sort of rowing movement at least once per week?


If you absolutely must choose one I would ditch both and do deadlifts. Deads are the best mass builder for your back, IMO.


I don't get that. The deadlift should be primarily a full-body exercise with emphasis on the hamstrings, glutes and lower back if done correctly.

Although the upper back does benefit from the second half of the deadlift, I don't consider them the holy grail for a big back. Sure, they have their place. But chins and rows will hit the back more so, IMO.


Bent over rows are one of my favorites to do. But I would continue doing chinups- as said before they are a great upper body exercise. especially with added weight.


Do deads when your lats are sore, you will notice how much you feel them. As far as any exercise that hits the most amount of back muscles, I think it is undoubtedly the deadlift.


Do them all. WTF?


I agree. I remember one of the coaches on here saying that deads could be one of the only ways to even out the difference caused by pulling less than what you can push, and therefore helping to correct a shoulder imbalance.


I know Ian King said it, and I'm sure someone else has also.


Doing them all is a great idea. However, I have gone for very long periods of time without doing any sort of rowing movement.

In that same time span I did my usual Chin/Pull-up workout. This involved performing no less than 200 to 400 Chin-ups and or Pull-ups per week. It depended on the weeek and if I was working with weight or not.

I Then trained with a Powerlifting friend (he was not training for a contest and he weighed about 180 at the time) who insisted that we do Barbell Rows. After we warmed up with light weight he placed 185lbs. on the bar (Just a tad less than my body weight).

I was able to perform 10 quality repetitions with no problem. He did the same. He then pumped it up to 200lbs. I garnered 8 reps and then 6 on the following set. He proceeded to accomplish the same amount of reps. No question that by the third set he was having an easier time of it than I was, but my reps were still pretty good.

I never forgot that experience.

Keep in mind I have never gone long periods of time performing rows only at the exclusion of Chins. Maybe I would still be strong in the Chin-up department from rowing who knows?

Also, if I were doing rowing in addition to Chins for that long period of time I'm sure I would have been even stronger in the Barbell Rows. (obviously).

I do think that performing Pull-ups and Chin-ups did help my rowing a great deal!


I know, I get sick of these discussions that all center on "if you had to pick one..."

Jeez, who has EVER had to pick just one exercise to do?? I mean, unless it's a short workout and you don't have time to do everything, but overall I think these threads are pointless.


... lots of good advice so far ...

Almost always I keep both horizontal and vertical pulling in a program.

Do what you haven't been doing! So focus on chins or pullups ... BUT ... you can always do both in the week with minimal sacrifice. Focus on chins, and then somewhere during the week (ideally a pressing day), throw in 3-5 sets of rows.



Some of us have very tough work schedules so we (me and training partner) can only get in 2 - SOMETIMES 3 workouts per week (of 1 hour) and otherwise we`re very exhausted, so we don't want to overdo it with too many exercises.

We also want to make sure the exercises we do though are the very best for what we want to achieve hence these kind of discussions.

The advice so far has been great. Thanks all who contributed.


Multi grip extended set training is my favourite for chin ups.

Do four sets total

wide grip pull ups (a.m.r.a.p)

rest 10 seconds

supinated chin ups (a.m.r.a.p)

rest 10 seconds

semi supinated chin ups (a.m.r.a.p)

rest 3 minutes.

repeat three more times



For the lats, pull-ups. I don't feel that chins are as effective for that area, but the latter is great for the biceps as well. It might be an individual thing but I feel that rows hit the middle of my back better than my lats, so I wouldn't do rows if I want to maximize my lat development.