I've never had great back strength, but I want to start working on it. I can't do a pull up, so was thinking of buying a lat pull down machine. Is there any way to work up the necessary muscle groups without such a machine?

Also interested in the best exercises to do to work up to pull ups.

  • Which hand position? Palms facing you, palms neutral or palms facing away? Or all types?
    – JohnP
    Jan 14, 2019 at 18:40
  • SHOULD you buy a lat pull down machine? If you have the money and space, why not? Do you NEED to buy a lat pull down machine to train your back, in order go gain the strength to do a pullup? Absolutely not. You can do negatives or use body momentum to make the pullup easier, until you gain enough strength to do them from a dead hang. You can train your back and arms using dumbbells. There are lots of ways to train the necessary muscles until you're able to do pullups.
    – Jun Kang
    Jan 14, 2019 at 21:43
  • @JohnP I can barely hang on to the bar for ten seconds with with hands facing forward. And by bar I mean the monkey bars at the playground.
    – hvgotcodes
    Jan 15, 2019 at 21:24
  • Lat pulldowns are good but you can also start by doing assisted pull-ups or hanging from the bar. Eventually you will get stronger
    – Dude
    Dec 25, 2019 at 10:48

3 Answers 3


There are multiple exercises you can do to learn how to do a pull-up and you don't need a machine to do this.

You can start with things like negative pull-ups, in which you jump upto the bar and slowly lower yourself back down, this will also get your body used to the movement of a pull-up.

You can also do inverted rows. This is where you have a bar lower to the ground and basically do a rowing movement with your bodyweight. The easiest way (if you have no equipment) is to setup two chairs next to each other and lay a broomstick on them to use as a bar.

Once you've done these things you should be able to start doing assisted pull-ups, using a resistance band to help you perform your first pull-ups.

I don't know if you have access to any other equipment but if you do you can also do bent over rows with either a barbell of dumbells, hell you can even do it using bags filled with sand or bottles of water.

Training your arms will also help you, especially if you want to do a chin-ups.

  • I just bought a bar and some resistance bands for the house. I figure Ill give those a try. I don't have any other equipment except a couple of dumbbells, the most heavy of which is 15lbs. I'd love to do inverted rows and will look into setting something up with some chairs and a broomstick.
    – hvgotcodes
    Jan 15, 2019 at 21:26

You could buy a barbell and some plates. Then you start doing romanian deadlifts (RDL) and bent over rows. Study youtube videos on how to do RDL. Make sure you feel them in the hamstring and glutes and not just lower back.
When you get strong at these you should be able to do pull-ups. However it is more important to train deadlift and bent over rows than pull-ups. In order for the shoulders to function properly you should do more horizontal pulling than vertical pulling. With the bar you can also do overhead press (if you have the overhead space for it). Which trains your chest and shoulders and is better for your shoulders than the bench press.

Alternatively you can do australian pull-ups with the bar you bought. When you can do ca. 12 of these you should be able to do a pull-up.

A strong back is really great but even more so is a strong posterior chain. For that you need exercises like the deadlift or the kettlebell swing.


start with a dead hang( grab the bar plus eyes to the bar ),hang as long as you can do it 3 times a day(3 sets) for one week,next week jump up on the bar and hang on the bar as long as u can 3 times(3 sets)...next week u will be able to perform pull up

  • Since the pullup requires biceps, shoulders and lats, and a dead hang basically only works the forearm muscles for grip, can you elaborate on how this helps to do a pullup?
    – JohnP
    Jan 14, 2019 at 21:06
  • you are smart but slightly over..yes gentlemen first he has to strength his forearm and grip then he will be able to do flex hang (jump up on the bar) that will help him build strength for the muscles describe by the only fitness guru in this world and gradually he will build strength to do pull ups.
    – elia
    Jan 15, 2019 at 5:11
  • I'm not sure what you mean my "jump up on the bar and hang", to me that still describes a dead hang. Do you mean to jump up and hold on with flexed arms?
    – JohnP
    Jan 15, 2019 at 14:06
  • yeah,flex hang.
    – elia
    Jan 15, 2019 at 20:04

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