P90X — Bands or Chair Assist?

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As many of you know, I completed P90X a while back and am working through P90X2 now.  Both routines contain pull-ups in various forms.  I have never had strong shoulders and pull-ups have been beyond my ability.  Thankfully, the creators of P90X realized this potential flaw and allowed modification through either a chair assist or use of bands. 

During P90X, I used the chair exclusively.  Basically, you put a chair below you and add some of your weight to your foot (on the chair) to help you do the pull-ups.  While I felt a burn doing this (or though I did), I never developed the strength to do more than a couple of pull-ups. In P90X2, I decided to buy the heaviest bands from Beachbody (they sell them in packages of three bands) to help me with the pull-ups. After a few weeks of using the bands, I found I could do three unassisted pull-ups.  I then began performing unassisted pull-ups for half the back routine followed by bands for the second half of the routine.  I was able to do eight unassisted pull-ups in my latest workout!!

I believe the chair assist allowed me to simply add more weight to my foot as my back and shoulders tired.  As such, I never forced myself to work hard enough to get the strength gains I wanted.

Now I am sure some of you have no problem with pull-ups, but for those who do, I cannot recommend the bands enough.  You can get them from many places (we have some Gold’s Gym ones that we got from somewhere), but I couldn’t find any really heavy ones except from Beachbody, plus it was cool to see the color of the bands the guys on the video were using  (especially when you were doing heavier). Have you found heavy bands somewhere else?

Beachbody also has a “pull-up assist” which seems to be a band that attaches to your foot to relieve some of your body weight.  I haven’t tried this, but it seems like it would work.  Has anyone tried the ‘pull-up assist?”

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5 comments on “P90X — Bands or Chair Assist?

  1. martha84 says:

    I too struggle with pull ups – its definitely something I have been working on for quite some time, but I can’t seem to get them unassisted yet 😦 I started off with the chair method, and I use bands sometimes but I don’t have super heavy duty ones. Right now I’m working on “negative” pull ups in an attempt to strengthen upper body, and they are beastly! Hopefully it pays off! Congrats on getting 3 unassisted!

  2. davygordon says:

    yes I have used the chair assist. I agree with you, I just add more weight on my leg to help but dont feel the burn. I will try and get some bands before I start phase two next week. It does make sense to use the bands until you get the desired burn. Tis great advice.

  3. cindyhkim says:

    I think I need to stop using the chair, too. I can only do 1 full pull-up and a couple of chin-ups. I’ve still a bit traumatised by the time a band snapped in half and almost took my eye out, but that was probably due to buying poor quality bands (oops). How do the Beachbody bands feel? I’m guessing they wouldn’t snap so easily.

    • I bought the heaviest set of bands from Beachbody…If you can snap those in half, you are more man than me. Haha. They seem to be really well made. My only complaint is that you get three bands with two sets of interchangable handles. If you were switching bands on every move, it would slow you down. I am only doing the heaviest for pull ups and can only use the lightest of the group for any other exercise, so it doesnt really effect me. (They do sell handles, but I dont know why Beachbody doesnt just sell the same number of handles as bands…)

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