Limer inn diskusjonen og analysen av Mr.Berkhan, han er enig med Tor:)
The proper way to perform chins and pullups is with a medium/shoulder width underhand grip (chins) or medium/shoulder width overhand grip (pullups). I often see people using a wide grip for pullups in the hope that it will hit the lats better. This only results in piss poor ROM (range of movement) and sore elbows. Knowing how poorly people tend to perform pullups I often recommend chins as the default lat movement when I can't monitor the client in question. This is a fail-safe way of ensuring good ROM with increasing weights, as people also tend to skimp on ROM when adding more weight to pullups.
Chins involve a greater total muscle area* than pullups, which is another factor that makes this movement an all round better choice. Pullups on the other hand hit the lats better which is why I might make this the primary choice for lat specialization-routines. Of course, there's no reason you can't include both movements in your training routine.
* On this particular issue, I am not sure. I recall an old study using electromyography for chins and pullups which found the former to be slightly better in terms of total muscle area activated. I'll look around and see if I can find it. Let me know if you are aware of any evidence to the contrary. Should I be wrong, I still stand by my recommendation for chins as the first hand choice due to the fact that people generally maintain a better ROM for this movement.
My experience with chins as the default lat movement is that it greatly lessens the need for direct biceps work. Throughout my training career I've performed very little direct work for my biceps. The best biceps growth I ever saw came many years ago when I was training for a one-arm chin-up.
Addendum part one: One commentator linked this article. Though it does not reveal whether chins are superior to pullups in terms of total muscle area involved, or vice versa, it provides some interesting data. Note that weighted chin-ups wins out in terms of peak biceps activity and mean lats activity.
"Some say that wide-grip pull-ups are better than underhand-grip chins for lat development, but they're actually very close. The weighted chin-up edges out the weighted pull-up in mean activity, and the weighted pull up-edges out the weighted chin-up in peak activity. Quid pro quo."
- Bret Contreras
Addendum part two: I e-mailed Contreras and this is what he said in response to the question -
"Do you know if it is possible to rank chins above pullups, or vice versa, in terms of total muscle area involved or the degree of mean/peak activity in the targeted muscles? Which one would you consider to be the all round better choice for someone looking to get the most bang for their buck so to speak."
His reponse -
"I believe that the two are very similar in lat activity as the wide grip may give a preferential angle but also less ROM and less resistance. The chin has more ROM and more resistance, but maybe the angle isn't quite as good as the pull up. My EMG studies confirm this, which is why I said "quid pro quo."
If I had to go with one or the other, I'd agree with you and go with the chin. The greater ROM and resistance in my opinion has to work more muscle - maybe the same amount of lat with a little more bicep, rhomboid, mid and lower trap, etc. Even if the chin and pull up are close, the tie has to go with the greater ROM. "