Assisted Pull Ups

What are assisted pull ups?

Assisted pull ups or assisted chin ups are compound exercises for the upper body. During the assisted pull up using the assisted pull up machine, the exerciser holds onto the bars above their head and lifts their bodyweight up using their arms and the help of the assisted pull up machine.

The assisted pull up machine can look intimidating to new gym users as it is a large machine with a platform, often with high steps, and can look complicated to use.

However it is actually a very simple machine and an incredibly useful exercise to use in the gym as part of your strength training routine. It is easy to develop a good assisted pull ups technique.

What muscles does the assisted pull up machine use?

Assisted pull ups (or assisted chin ups) use the back, shoulders and arms (trapezius, latissimus dorsi, posteriod deltoid, bicep and brachialis). This is an excellent exercise for all over upper body development.


If you complete your pull ups with an overhand grasp with palms facing away from you, your forearms take more of the stress.

If you perform chin ups using an underhand grasp with palms facing towards you, your arms will find it a little easier. This is because the underhand grip uses the more powerful bicep muscle.

assisted pull up machine

Benefits of assisted pull ups

The benefits of assisted pull ups or assisted chin ups include a stronger upper body, particularly a strong back with a great, aesthetically pleasing V-shape.

Although pull ups help in thickening up your back muscles, pull ups also help you develop functional strength, not only size.

Assisted pull ups are a great way of easing into the pull up or chin up as a bodyweight exercise.

Chin ups and pull ups are very difficult exercises because they require a lot of upper body strength. By using the assisted pull up machine you can concentrate on technique and slowly building up your strength.

This is because you can gradually reduce the amount of weight on the machine that is helping you lift your bodyweight, until you can do pull ups as a bodyweight exercise without the machine.

Pull Ups Technique Without Machine

Using assisted pull ups in your strength training routine will help to increase the size and form of definition of your upper back and increase the functional strength of your back and biceps hugely.

Although the assisted pull up machine can look intimidating to new gym users, once you get the hang of this great exercise it is very simple to perform. The assisted pull up is also an excellent exercise to use to track your upper body strength progress.

How to perform assisted pull ups

Unlike other weight lifting machines, with the assisted pull up machine the more weight you add, the easier the exercise will be. This is because the weight you add will help you lift your own bodyweight during the exercise.

To perform the assisted pull up, you first need to select the weight to add to the machine. The difference between your own bodyweight and the weight added to the machine is the actual weight you will lift during the pull up.


To begin with, select a higher load than you think you really need and then you can reduce the weight slowly as you gain strength.

Assisted pull ups technique

How to use the assisted pull up machine

Some assisted pull up machines are designed so you can stand on the platform and others intended to be used in a kneeling position.

The kind of machine you are using will be obvious from the distance between the platform and the bars. A large distance means the machine is a standing machine, while a small distance mean you should place your knees on the platform. The majority of assisted pull up machines are standing machines.

assisted pullup machine - kneeling

Once you have selected the weight you want to add to the assisted pull up machine, climb up the steps and take the bars.

Good assisted pull ups technique requires that you take an overgrasp of the two bars with your hands, holding them about one and a half shoulder widths apart.

It is more comfortable to use a pull up overgrasp, rather than a chin up undergrasp, because the bars are quite widely spaced. Once you are ready to begin lifting, step onto the platform and take control of your own body weight.

Assisted pull ups technique

Maintain a good assisted pull ups technique by breathing out as you pull your body up towards the bar and in as you let your bodyweight lower back down.

On the upward motion, aim to get your chin just above the bar. On the descent, extend the arms fully without locking out at the elbow. Keep abdominals braced throughout the exercise, as this will help to keep your spine neutral.

The hips and knees should be directly beneath the shoulders throughout the movement, with no swinging. Once you have performed your last rep, gently return the weight to the stack and step off the platform.

Read about bodyweight pull ups then explore more exercises for the shoulders, back and arms.

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