Years ago when I began weight training, I discovered the assisted pull-up machine. The assisted pull-up machine is different from most weighted machines in that the pinned weight (the weight listed in the stack where you insert the pin) is actually the amount of assistance you are receiving from the machine to assist you in performing the pull-up motion and not the amount of resistance provided by the weights. The weight stack is used to ‘assist’ the user and off-set the bodyweight proportionately by the amount of weight on the weight stack. Therefore, to increase the resistance for the user, he/she should reduce the weight on the weight stack until zero assistance is needed.
To master the pull-up and then wide grip pull-up. Begin with the assisted pull-up machine. Train with the variety of hand positions offered on the machine. Become familiar with the range of motion for a pullup while using the necessary assisted weight to complete a set of 8-10 reps. As you continue to train over time, reduce the weight until you are training at the lightest weight assistance.
Your next progression will be to remove the pin for the knee pad or secure the foot bar (which ever your machine uses) and perform your first set unassisted with your hands in the neutral position. The neutral position would be with your palms facing each other. This neutral grip encourages bicep assistance. Your reps per set will reduce as you are transitioning to 100% body weight but should not fall below 6 reps per set, so push yourself!
Your next progression should be to the standard pull-up position with pronated grip (palms facing away from you) but with a closer grip than the wide grip. Make sure in this position that your reps are smooth, steady, and full range of motion.
The final progression will be to the wide pronated grip pull-up. This version may be a little tougher transition because this position puts more exercise concentration on the lat muscles. With the wider grip, your range of motion will be less but reps should remain smooth and consistent. Again, your reps per set will be reduced as you first switch to the wider grip but never fear, your continued training will get those numbers back up in no time!!
Need another progression? Some add a weight belt with various weight plates. I choose to perform wide grip pull-ups in my normal rep range and then perform a static hold in the contracted position until fatigue. Enjoy! And when in doubt…. PULL-UP!!
Fitmark Ambassador 2013