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My New Favorite: The Assisted Pull-Up

Credit: NejroN Photo/Bigstockphoto.comAlthough I’m no stranger to making a fool of myself at the gym (or on sidewalks)—and it certainly makes for a good story—I don’t love feeling totally incompetent at the gym. So I’m always hesitant to try new pieces of equipment for fear of doing it wrong or not being able to figure it out at all. Which is silly. How can we learn and grow if we don’t get out of our comfort zones?

So the other day, the one day I’ve been well in the last four weeks and been able to make it to the gym, I tried the assisted pull-up machine. I’d done it before back in my personal trainer days, but it’s been years and I hadn’t used this particular machine yet. So my husband,  who is well-versed on the machine and also happened to be my workout buddy that day, showed me how it worked.

Can I just say, I loved the thing. First of all, there is no way on earth I could do a bad-ass Jenn-style pull-up without months, maybe years, of work on the task. So it’s nice to get the strength benefits without killing myself with the attempt at a real one. And second of all? It works the shoulders. It works the arms. It works the core. (You get a car! And you get a car!) I love how the different options for gripping give just a slight variation on the muscles worked. And I love that you can also use it for tricep dips. Plus, there is just something about doing pull-ups, assisted or not, that make you feel like a total bad-ass. I suddenly see the appeal in making doing one a goal…

If  you’re thinking about giving the assisted pull-up machine a shot, just know that the selection of the weight is slightly counter-intuitive. The heavier the weight, the less of your own weight you’re lifting; the lighter the weight, the more of your weight you’re heaving up into that pull-up. This is one instance where the heavier weight is actually easier! Play around until you find a weight that’s challenging but not impossible.

I have a sneaking suspicion that all of the machines in the gym could be my new favorite machine if I’d just give them a try. What is your favorite piece of equipment at the gym? What should I bravely try next? —Erin

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