T Nation

Replacing Assisted Pull-Ups


I found an article in T-Nation that had a program for beginners like me that can't do 1 pullup. I just wanted to know, what can I replace assisted pullups with? In my gym, no one can really assist me on my pullup and I don't have any resistance bands(too broke to buy them). Also, when do I add weight to my negatives?

Category #1: The "I really, really suck" program

Target Audience: Zero Pull-ups

Frequency: 2 times a week, spread out by 2-3 days each

Day 1

Negative chin-ups, 4 x 2-3
45-degree bent over row, 4 x 10, 8, 6, 12
Wide grip pulldown, 3 x 12, 10, 8

Day 2

Flexed-arm hang, 4 x 15 seconds
Assisted pull-ups, 4 x 8-12
DB row, 3 x 10, 8, 6


â?¢ Do a 5-second negative, 1 jumping pull-up OR a 10-second flexed-arm hang as frequently as you wish.

â?¢ Train biceps 1-2 x week, often at the end of this program. Go moderately heavy.

â?¢ Forearms can be trained if grip is an issue.


â?¢ When you can perform your heavy set on the assistance exercises, increase all weights per set by 5 lbs.

â?¢ For the negatives, work on being in control throughout the ROM and not just at the top.

â?¢ For the flexed arm hang, increase by 5 seconds when you can (usually about every 2-3 weeks).

� Test yourself every 4 weeks to see if you can do a strict pull-up yet. It's okay to jump up and start at the top (don't count that one), lower yourself down and then try to come back up. Be sure to go at least ¾ of the way down for it to count as one rep.


(I learned to do my first pullup by only jumping up and doing negatives.)

To answer your question, set up in a smith machine or power rack. Put the bar so low that if you hang from it, your knees are slightly above the ground. Then do pullups, assisting yourself by using your legs.

If you don't have a gym membership, try putting a chair slightly behind the pullup bar and doing the same thing.

Mad scientists could also tie a rope to their waist, put it over the bar and tie a weight to the other end.

Or you could google "rack chins", though they're a little too different from pullups IMO.

How much do you weigh?


side note: don't be that guy who puts a barbell on top of the power rack so he can do pullups from it, and then doesn't bring it back down. a bunch of guys at my gym often leave the bar up there and i'm too short to get it down without standing on something. why they do this when there are four pullup stations throughout the gym boggles my mind...

if you can't do a pullup with a good hip drive, you probably weigh too much.

OP if you feel like you have to add weight to your negatives, you should probably be able to do a pullup already. btw don't use straps on your pulling movements, you'll just set yourself back further with whatever grip weakness you might have.


do your pullups on the cable stack frame and put the cable pulley to the top, pull the cable out and slip your foot in it. Voila, assisted pullups. just make sure you start with a low weight and move up to see how much you need. Dont wanna get flipped over cause you used too heavy of weight.


heavy pulldowns 5x5 or 10 sets of 3 etc
kroc rows


focus on negatives first, then build up from there.


Just a quick ha'penny worth from another beginner.

Just a few months back i couldn't do either chins or pull ups..too weak and too heavy.

What i did do was progress on lat pull downs using lots of volume and gradually increase the weight, later did drop sets as well.
Second exercise was rack chins which i started to use in between other exercises.

I am not sure but also doing lots of 'opposite' exercises may have helped as well, things like simple press ups and dips.