Doing pull-ups is great exercise, but most beginners lack the strength to complete more than a few reps. Devices that provide some mechanical assistance in doing pull-ups are great tools to help newbies complete several reps and gradually increase their strength. Typically, you have to find a gym with a machine to do assisted pull-ups, and still some facilities don’t have them. But the Lifeline Pullup Revolution device is portable and allows you to do assisted pull-ups wherever you can access a fixed pull-up bar, whether it’s in a gym, at home or—as our testers discovered—on a playground.
Over the course of several weeks we tested the Pullup Revolution and found it to be a pretty useful tool, though it does have a couple of drawbacks.
The biggest challenge with this product is that you must still have access to a fixed bar, so you have to tote the Pullup Revolution into a gym or install a bar in your home. Our testers tried it in the gym, which drew the attention of plenty of curious folks, so if you’re self conscious when working out, you might want to avoid this situation. Our testers found a creative alternative—a pull-up bar at a nearby school playground. Of course, the playground is really only a good workout spot in the evening when school is out. Another option is to find an unobtrusive doorway in your home, but a couple of potential testers found they don’t have one of those with their wide open home design – except in the living room or entry and who wants a pullup bar living there?
Once you’ve tackled the issue of finding a pull-up bar, the device is pretty simple to use. It includes an adjustable, wide nylon strap with a beefy, durable buckle at one end that allows you to attach the strap to a bar. The components that provide mechanical assistance are three tubular elastic bands that attach to two points on the device. And finally, there is a loop of webbing to hold one foot. Very little assembly is required—you just attach both ends of each rubber band to plastic holders with slots. Easy enough.
Once the top portion of the strap is attached to a bar, you put one foot into the lower webbing loop. You can then adjust the length of the main strap to position the foot loop at a desired height, which also changes resistance: The higher you place the loop (i.e. the shorter the tube), the greater the mechanical assistance you’ll receive. Once you’ve set the loop, you press your leg down, cross your free foot over the one in the loop, and proceed to do pull-ups.
One thing we liked about the product is that you can adjust the level of assistance a couple of easy ways. You not only can adjust the height of the foot loop, but you can also remove or add elastic bands to reduce or increase the assistance, thus making it more difficult (or easier) to do pull-ups. Our testers—who were beginners—found that they needed all three straps to do several reps. If they removed one strap, it was notably much more difficult to do pull-ups.
One of our testers (both of whom were male) found the three bands provided enough assistance for him to do several pull-ups. But the other tester, who was not quite as strong, said that he needed a bit more help, and preferred gym machines that offer a greater amounts of assistance. That means that much weaker person may not be able to accomplish the pull-ups even with this assistance. One drawback to the Pullup Revolution is that some beginners might get discouraged as they realize they need more of a boost, even when they use all three rubber bands and position the foot loop as high as possible.
Another issue concerns the loop where you place your foot. As our testers were doing pull-ups they complained that their shins repeatedly banged against the plastic piece that has slots to hold the rubber bands. They adjusted the position of their feet in the loop—placing the ball of the foot, rather than their arch, on the strap—but their shins still hit the plastic. They wondered if there might be a way to include a padded collar to wrap around the plastic piece to reduce impact.
One thing we liked about the Pullup Revolution was the instructional DVD that comes with the product. It quickly shows how to set up the product, do a pull-up test to gauge your ability level, and runs through beginner and advanced exercises.
Overall, the Pullup Revolution is a good concept and provides a clever solution for doing assisted pull-ups when a large machine is not available. We would just suggest that Lifeline tweak the design to reduce the shin bang and also provide a little more mechanical assistance so the product will benefit a broader range of people.
SNEWS Rating: 3.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $49.99