No Machines Needed. Hit Your First Pull Up.

Pull Ups are great. They work nearly every muscle in your upper body, and are an amazing landmark of strength.

Everyone knows about these benefits. The problem with pull ups is that they are very hard to learn how to do, and very hard to do if you’re not strong enough. You need a way to make them easier so you can practice the movement and build your strength properly.

That means you need an assisted pull up machine, or some bands.

But your gym might not have one of those machines, and you might not own any bands. That doesn’t mean your pull up progression is hopeless. It just means that you need to be a little more creative and control variables other than weight.


In order to work around your equipment constraints you need to focus on the negative, or eccentric portion of the pullup.

Instead of worrying about pulling yourself up to the bar, you need to slowly control your descent away from the bar.

This negative, or eccentric, portion of any lift is valuable because it builds muscle and strength while also teaching you the skills you need to develop in order to perform your first pull up.

Here’s how to do the negative pull up:

  1. Jump up to a regular pull up bar, or use a box or bench to get there

  2. Slowly release yourself away from the bar at a “3,2,1” tempo or slower

The slower tempo will put a lot of mechanical tension on your back and biceps, and will illicit a very similar hypertrophic response to performing a “regular” pull up. You’ll build just as much muscle and strength.

Perform 3-5 sets of 3-10 reps whenever you’re training and I guarantee you’ll be banging out multiple pull ups in a only a few weeks.

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Patrick Henigan