Negative Pullups should require a box

Hi athletes!

Recently, my coach told me to do negative pullups although I train without any equipment which I configured accordingly, of course. In the video of the negative pullups, you can cleary see a box being used. I contacted Freeletics support about this issue, such that they change the internal equipment category of negative pullups from “none” to “box/chair/similar”. In fact, they told me to jump to the pullup bar instead of using a box, to which I replied “then, I’d do jumping pullups”! When I disagreed, they invited me to this forum (instead of solving the issue), so I’d like the discussion to continue here.

What are your thoughts on this matter?


Hey Christian and welcome to the forum :slight_smile:

I see where you are coming from yet I’d say jumping into the starting position of the negative pullup with your arms bend and your chin above the bar should be fine. You might be adding a bit of movement from a jumping pullup, that’s true but in my opinion, it’s a compromise.

I bet the box is not included as a necessary requirement for negative pullups as it is just one way of getting you into the starting position - a bed, bench, chair or anything helps :slight_smile:


Hi Mike! Thanks for the welcoming.

Isn’t the whole purpose of negative exercises (pushups, pullups) to halve the full exercise’s complexity? When I have to jump to the pullup bar with my chin above the bar, where exactly is the difference to a jumping pullup? I don’t see any. It’s much more demanding for a beginner to jump to a bar, hold the position and then slowly release it than having him/her start from an elevated position by a box or chair. This will possibly result in a loss of technique.

Additionally, chairs, benches and similar also are equipment that is needed to complete a certain exercise. I told the coach to exclude equipment but I received an exercise which I had to use equipment for. This must not be the purpose of my bodyweight-oriented coach. The coach evaluates negative pullups easier than jumping pullups. As a consequence. I couldn’t do all repetitions since I had to jump which is more exhausting and demanding.

To be honest I have to agree with you and am surprised that the box is not listed as a piece of mandatory equipment for this exercise. Maybe, @Ben can you help here? :slight_smile:

Hey Christian and Mike :wave:t2: Great discussion topic for a first contribution by the way Christian :sweat_smile:

Ok, I think there are a few things worth discussing here. This could be a long post, but it is actually a complicated area-but to sum it up it just isn’t possible to cater for every single possible scenario at the home environment.

The videos shown in the app are only a single source of truth/instruction. Lots of the videos will show exercises in a certain way that for a lot of Athletes won’t strictly represent how they can and should complete the exercise. We always really encourage Athletes to adapt the exercises shown in order that they can complete them.

Let me use myself as an example.

My own Pullup bar set-up at home is in a doorframe. Strictly speaking I can’t really do quite a few of the Pullup bar exercises according to the videos shown. For example, deadhangs (I can’t hang straight off the bar) or Pullups (the bar really isn’t secure enough for me to swing fully) and in the case of negative Pullups, where my Pullup bar is, if I stood on a Box my head would hit the ceiling.

But what I can do here for these exercises:

Deadhangs, I bend my leg at the knee ankles towards my backside, thereby allowing me to hang freely.
Pullups, I use a very slight swinging motion, it’s way less than 50% of the full kipping shown in the video for pullups.
Negative pullup, for me it is a very slight jump up to get my head above the bar, I don’t find this a problem.

The only equipment needed for this exercise, because strictly speaking, you can’t do it without one, is the Pullup bar. Like I stated earlier, we can’t cater for every possible combination of equipment at home,

I think a good example, that demonstrates the principle here, is that we don’t tell users they need a workout mat to workout with, even though I think most users probably use a mat or something similar.


Hi Ben,

thank you. Of course, you can and must adapt every exercise to your specific setup. I know this Freeletics drill, since I’ve been training for years with Freeletics, now. However, shouldn’t we always aim for the best possible execution of an exercise?

The coach doesn’t know your home-specific setup, hence it will always base its calculation on the default difficulty of an exercise. Switching from a negative pullup to a jumping pullup increases the difficulty. Hence, the coach will miscalculate the athlete’s abilities. :confused:

Also, you can not expect beginners to jump to the correct height with every repetition, resulting in extra repetitions, exhaustion and loss in technique. You simply can’t equate negative pullups and jumping pullups. These exercises differ for a reason! :point_up:

Lastly, I didn’t catch your actual argument as to why negative pullups shouldn’t require the box as equipment as shown in the tutorial video. Do you want to confuse your users? :thinking:

If it doesn’t matter to you whether you do negative or jumping pullups, why do both of these exercises exist? This just doesn’t make any sense to me. The whole purpose of a negative pullup is to cut the jumping part - easing the exercise and working towards a real pullup. You just argue that there is no difference in these exercise.

PS: A mat isn’t required to exercise whereas equipment to elevate yourself is. :wink:

Hey Christian,

I do understand the points that you raise. However there a lot of issues here.

Like I said initially it is almost impossible to cater for every single setup that users might have. Although this might well be the case for you and a number of other athletes, it won’t be the case for everyone. It certainly isn’t the case for me for example-my “jump” up to my bar is literally a matter of inches, I could almost do it on my tip-toes.

To be clear they do not require a “box” to complete. It may well be true, however, and it certainly sounds like this is the case for yourself, that for some athletes they do require a box or something similar-in which case athletes should use one or a stool or similar aid to enable them to get to the starting position. But this won’t apply to everyone-and so it is not a requirement.

Hi Ben,

hmm, I see. We are approaching the same problem from different sides or points of view. You want to keep the exercise available to as many users as possible, even if it meant to increase its difficulty for the majority of users, possibly providing harm to or miscalculating the performance of beginners. At least, it’s my guess that most athletes have their pullup bar installed in the “best” height which would result in an increase of NegPu’s difficulty; or does Freeletics know different numbers from the options that athletes chose in their coach?


Hey again Christian :wave:t2:

I think this is generally true-we want as many users as possible to have access to as many of the exercises. By doing this we know that Athletes will have the most varied exercise pool available to their Coach. If we were to make a box a required equipment for this exercise, there will be users who won’t get assigned it-we know that the more restrictions in place for exercises-be they space or equipment requirements, the number of Athletes who have access to those exercises drops. We trust Athletes to be able to understand that, and to make a decision that if they need assistance to get to the starting position, they should use a suitable item.

Why do you think this is the case? If you need something to get up to the correct position, you can use something-I am not telling you that you don’t need to use something to get to the starting position, only you can make that judgement. If you have a box you can use this. A lot of Athletes don’t have a box, yet will use something else like a chair or a stool. If you need an aid to get to the correct position, please use one. There are a number of similar examples in the app-this is not a phenomenon that is limited to this one exercise. If someone doesn’t have a suitable replacement item, most Athletes will be able to exclude an exercise if they don’t feel able to adapt it.

No, there is nothing in the Coach settings that enables us to analyse the height users have their bar.


See, my point of view is that you can not expect equipment-free users to train with any sort of equipment - be it a box, chair or anything else. These users that can’t or don’t want to use equipment will do exercises like NPs without equipment which might lead to the issues I mentioned.

For example, I don’t want to use my dining chairs for training. When training outside, there is no equipment available for me, either. In the end, I excluded the negative pullups from my training since the coach will otherwise overestimate the number of repetitions I can do. However, I see that we won’t come to an agreement here which is okay.

Yes, there is: there are 4 sub-options for the pullup bar asking for the available space. :wink:

I think we definitely see things from different angles, which is fine-but this doesn’t downplay the value of your insights and feedback which are useful and I’ll make sure we at least discuss what you raise.

Ah, I understand-I thought we were talking specifically about the “best height” for a neg pull-up. None of the space options in the Coach settings really equate to this :+1:t2:

Thank you!

Well, looking at the thumbnail of the option “I can fully extend my whole body underneath the bar.” (translated from German), wouldn’t this equate to exactly what we were discussing? You said that you can not hang freely underneath your bar which allows you to do negative pullups without equipment, since your jump is sufficiently small. However, being able to hang freely requires a sufficiently high pullup bar, which in turn would/could/should require a box for negative pullups [not starting a new discussion, just explaining].


I see what you are getting at, but I think this goes back to the theme talked about at the start of this conversation :joy:

So the “Space below bar” setting does not include/exclude negative pullups-this exercise will be in the “Coach pool” just by having the pullup bar enabled.

edit: just to make clear as I think i understand you more clearly having re-read this, a consequence of enabling the space requirement for this would be there are then a whole range of exercises that really do require a lot of space under the bar that would be enabled-for example Toes to Bar and Burpee Pullups.

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