I think it’s safe to say that everyone knows what a pull-up is.
You grab a supported bar; you pull yourself up, thus the pull-up.
But not everyone can pull off a pull-up (pun intended).
And since Planet Fitness is considered a good gym for beginners, they typically have assisted pull-up machines somewhere on the floor to help you master this kick-ass exercise.
What are the benefits? And how do you use this machine?
Table of Contents
- What is an Assisted Pull-Up?
- 4 Benefits of an Assisted Pull-Up
- Types of Grips
- Chalk or no chalk?
- How to do Assisted Pull-Ups at Planet Fitness
- In Conclusion
What is an Assisted Pull-Up?
An assisted pull-up is a pull-up performed with assistance, therefore the name assisted pull-up. A more exact definition would be a pull-up that reduces the amount of weight you would normally have to lift, with the amount you would normally have to lift is almost equal to your body weight.
4 Benefits of an Assisted Pull-Up
Why assisted pull-ups? Why not just start at regular pull-ups?
The answer lies below.
1. It’s Easier than an Actual Pull-Up
A little obvious, but bear with me. Assisted pull-ups are easier than actual pull-ups.
Say you step on a bodyweight scale and discover you weigh 200 pounds. Well, with pull-ups, you are lifting around 95% of your body weight, which would be 190 pounds. Can you lift 190 pounds? Can you do it for several reps?
If the answer to that is a dubious maybe or a resounding no, then it’s time to consider assisted pull-ups.
2. Targets the Same Muscles of Regular Pull-Ups
Worried that you might not hit the same muscles as a regular pull-up (and now your Planet Fitness muscle-building routine is ruined?!)
Well, don’t worry. An assisted pull-up works all the same muscles as a regular pull-up, which are the:
- External oblique
- Latissimus dorsi
- Teres minor
- Thoracic erector spinae
3. It Improves Grip Strength
Have you ever wanted to go rock climbing, but had a terrible recurring nightmare that your hands would slip off and your rope would break and you’d die in a cavernous ravine like a horrible Martin Campbell film? Well, if you improve your grip strength, the likelihood of that happening plummets.
4. It Helps Perfects Form
What better way to make sure you know how to do unassisted pull-ups than doing assisted pull-ups? It helps build enough strength to do an unassisted pull-up while also perfecting the form and balancing the body.
Types of Grips
A pull-up may be simple and easy to do, but there are variations to it. There are three types of grips:
- Neutral grip (palms facing each other)
- Overhand grip or pronated grip
- Underhand grip or supinated grip
There are also common hand positions.
- Wide grip (wider than your shoulders)
- Narrow/close grip (narrower than your shoulders)
Or something in between.
The grips might not seem to matter much, but they do. For example, a study published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal found the overhand grip to activate the lower trapezius better than the underhand grip.
Chalk or no chalk?
A dissertation published in 2010 studied the effects of chalk versus no chalk on experienced rock climbers doing pull-ups. The overall conclusion was that chalk helped both open-hand and pinch-gripped weight-assisted pull-ups versus the non-chalk trials.
Now the question is: is chalk allowed at Planet Fitness?
The answer is a resounding no, mostly assuming because of the mess.
BUT most gyms do allow liquid chalk, an item purchasable at most sports stores. You rub it into your hands and after a few seconds, it becomes more effective chalk than regular chalk because it lasts longer and leaves less of a mess.
How to do Assisted Pull-Ups at Planet Fitness
1. Partner-Assisted Pull-Ups
For this to work, you need a partner. To get a partner you could either:
- Ask a stranger to help you out
- Ask a friend who has a Planet Fitness membership to help you out
- Have a Black Card Membership and bring a guest to help you out
Once you have a partner, it’s pretty simple. First, you must locate an empty pull-up bar. From there, you:
- Hang from the pull-up bar as you would in a pull-up starting position
- Cross your ankles and bend your knees until they’re around 90 degrees. You want your lower legs parallel to the floor.
- Have your friend grab the top front of your shoes from behind.
- Perform your pull-ups.
Another variation of the assisted-pull up is grabbing from the lats. So instead of grabbing the shoes, it’s:
- Hang from the pull-up bar as you would in a pull-up starting position.
- Your friend holds you by the lats or the sides of the back.
- Perform your pull-ups.
If you don’t have any friends, then don’t worry. At Planet Fitness, there are many ways to do assisted pull-ups.
2. Machine-Assisted Pull-Ups
Fortunately, pull-up machines do make the list of equipment found at Planet Fitness. To use the machine, you must:
- Choose the weight you want. The weights go up to 175 pounds.
- Step onto the stool in front of the machine and grip the handles atop the machine.
- Place your knees on the knee rest.
- Perform your pull-ups
Note: The heavier the weight you choose, the easier the pull-up will be and vice versa. The pounds you choose subtract from the amount of bodyweight you will lift.
Eventually, want to stop doing assisted pull-ups but still like the machine? You can still use the machine without assistance by unhooking the seat and letting it drop and using the grips as you would a normal pull-up.
3. Resistance Band-Assisted Pull-Ups
With band-assisted pull-ups, the more resistance in a band, the easier it is to perform a pull-up. The looser the band, the harder it is.
- Choose a resistance band
- Throw a part of the resistance band over the middle of the pull-up bar
- Put one end of the resistance band through the other and pull until it’s tight
- Slowly step on the bottom of the resistance band with one foot
- To ensure the resistance band doesn’t fly off, press your other foot over the foot with the resistance band
- Perform your pull-ups
Fitness Dreamer Resistance Bands
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If your gym doesn’t have a pull-up bar, you can use the Smith Machine with the bar set at the highest level. Remember… Planet Fitness doesn’t have squat racks.
For ultimate safety, you might want a friend to put the band under your foot and to take off the band. If you don’t have a friend, then make sure you take off the band slowly.
You don’t want it to fly off and whack you in the eye, do you?
If you’re having trouble getting your foot into the resistance band because it won’t stretch enough, then consider putting one knee in the resistance band instead and doing pull-ups with your ankles crossed.
Pull-ups are an easy and fast way to gain strength. It’s safer and easier on the joints than powerlifting, all you need is a supported bar which you can find nearly anywhere.