The Beginner Pull Up Program: Scaling Without Bands

Justin Lind


Kettlebells, Gymnastics, CrossFit


The Beginner Pull Up Program: Scaling Without Bands - Fitness, Gymnastics, bodyweight exercises, pull ups, lats, scapula, beginner pull up series


The Beginner Pull-Up Program is designed to help you achieve your first strict pull-up. If you already have a pull-up or two, this program will help you progress your strength toward longer sets and more advanced pulling movements.



This program is broken into 5 weeks, each focusing on a different aspect of the pull-up. Each week brings a new sequence of exercises to be repeated 3-4 times in the week. These are 15-20-minute pull-up specific programs meant to supplement your normal regimen.


See the rest of the series here:


Part 5 - Pull-Up Scaling Options

We have thus far built a strong pulling foundation, but it’s now time to train the full movement. While the first 4 weeks of this program have increased your pull-up strength, you might not quite yet have the strength to achieve a pull-up. Even if you can perform a pull-up or two, scaling options will allow you to train the full movement with enough volume to further increase your strength.


No Resistance Bands

Avoid the common pull-up scale of using a resistance band suspend from the bar. While this method can serve to introduce very new beginners to hanging and the pull-up range of motion, it can just as easily forestall further progress.


Resistance bands provide progressive resistance; the force that they apply is directly proportional to the amount they are stretched. This means that they provide much more assistance while fully stretched at the bottom of the rep than they do at the top. If the band gives just enough assistance to initiate the rep in the bottom, it will not assist enough to properly top out. Similarly, if the band-aids appropriately at the top out, it will make the bottom of the rep far too easy to be of benefit. These issues only grow as fatigue builds late in reps and sets.


Proportional Assistance

You will progress much quicker by avoiding the resistance bands and using a form of proportional resistance. This means using just enough assistance to complete the reps while maintaining a hollow body and smooth navigation of the entire range of motion. Provide enough resistance that you do not stall out or break form, but not enough to make each rep too easy. You will obviously require more help as you fatigue, but regardless of how much help you receive on each rep you will reinforce a strong position and full range of motion.


Check out the video for 3 different methods of providing proportional assistance.



Beginner Pull-Up Program - Week 5



Block 1


A. Max Effort Set of Assisted Pull-Ups
- 5 sets
- Scale to around 10 reps


*Rest as needed between sets


Using best scaling option available:

1. Partner, hollow, assist at knees
2. Partner, feet to thighs/hips
3. Self-Assist, laces down on box/bench


Block 2


4 rounds:

B1. Negative to 3 Scapular Pull-Ups, 2 reps, 3-5 sec negative
B2. Ring Rows, 8-10 reps, vary grip
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