I've been doing chin-up negs to try and work up to unassisted chin-ups, but not having a bar at home or even a space or even a standard door to put one, nor local availability of a reasonably pricing ceiling mounted unit, I've been doing them on TRX straps hanging from the ceiling, spaced about 2 feet apart.

I'm finding the negs quite difficult, compared to when I'm at the gym and use a bar. After about 6 weeks, I've progressed on a lat-pulldown machine from 2x8x63kg to 2x8x90kg, yet the chin-up negs don't seem to be getting any easier on the straps, only on the bar at the gym.

Possibly the straps need to be a bit closer together, directly above the shoulder joints? Or are some stabilisers just getting smashed, limiting the effectiveness of the negs for building up to chin-ups?

2 Answers 2


From your other question I know that the lat pulldown machine broke down, however:
Using a machine does not really prepare you for the real exercise. To improve any body weight or free weight exercise it is best to not use a machine. The machine controls the path of the weight and you don't have to worry about the weight dropping uncontrolled or tipping over to the side. This means that the muscles that would normally be used for this, wont get a lot of training. However these are crucial to perform the real exercise with the same weight.
Also if you are trying to do one pull up, why are you doing eight repetitions on the machine? I'd go for a less reps, more sets and higher weights. Maybe something in the 5x3 range, however this is purely based on my personal approach to arranging workouts.

Why is it harder to do pull ups on the straps, compared to the bar?
It's somewhat comparable to how the machine is to a real pull up. With a bar your hands have a fixed point in space to attach to, with those straps they don't. Your whole body has to tense far more to not go in a swinging motion, to not twirl etc.
If you really are bound to the straps (haha, pun not really intended) I'd try to attach them as closely as possible to the ceiling or the wall to reduce their movement. I don't own those straps, I've only have just seen them on youtube, so I am not sure how to actually do that.

Maybe you should check for a pull up bar again. Mine was relatively cheap, about 30€ and ceiling mounted. You don't need a lot of space for it.

pull up bar

Thats the Home-Gym part of my room, directly after I drilled the bar against the ceiling. My apartment is really small (~20m²), it still works out fine. I can no longer fully open the window, but whatever…
As a side note: I also did pull ups hanging down the locker on the left before I had the bar. Totally uncomfortable grip, a bit dangerous, especially when the locker tips over, but you are not able to cheat by throwing your legs up.

  • Nice bar! Only one I've found locally in Australia is AUD180 with postage (150€). I'll check out the Home Depot equivalent this morning if I can get parts not requiring welding.
    – jontyc
    Jan 5, 2013 at 21:55

I haven't worked out using straps but I would consider they are similar to still rings. The difference between still rings and pull-up bar exercising is that the rings are not static, they can move and as informaficker said you need to maintain a good balance on them in order to exercise. Once you get more experienced and gain strength it would not make a difference to you whether you are using straps, rings or a pull-up bar.

Regarding your question related to the pull-up progression, the width of the straps is not playing such an important role. If you want to achieve a pull-up/chin-up you better develop a certain workout program and follow it. The body needs to adapt and get prepared for this exercise, it needs to gain strength precisely for it.

I have written an article on my website that is related to learning the chin-up and pull-up. I think it might help you: Tutorial: How to do your first chin-up & pull-up!

You can also find an article about installing still rings in your place. I was very limited in terms of space when I installed mine. Originally I wanted to put a pull-up bar but did not have enough space so I just had to figure out how to mount rings instead.

I hope my post helps you.

  • 1
    I edited your post, feel free to revert the changes or edit it again.
    – Baarn
    Jan 6, 2013 at 12:45

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