This exercise provided courtesy of Billy Polson, founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006.
This inverted variation on the pull-up works the back muscles—the lats and traps specifically. The addition of the hold at the top makes your lats and traps work that much harder.
Back (lats and traps)
Set the Smith machine bar so that it is on the fourth, fifth, or sixth height setting (the bar height will be below your chest height and above your belly button), depending on your individual height relative to the Smith machine. With your feet on the floor in a wide stance in front of the Smith machine, position your upper body underneath the bar of the Smith machine, holding the bar a little wider than shoulder-width apart with your palms facing down. Hang from the bar with your arms extended fully, and allow only the heels of your feet to touch the floor. Keep your body straight—don't let your butt sag down (see Photo 1).
- From the starting position, lift your upper body up until your chest touches the bar (see Photo 2). Focus on retracting your shoulder blades down and back and opening up your chest in order to maintain proper posture and to activate your lower/middle traps.
- When your chest touches the bar, hold for three seconds. Be sure to maintain the flex and breathe during this hold.
- Reverse the motion and lower yourself down until you are back at the starting position (see Photo 3). Do 12 reps for your first set and 10 reps for your second set. Note that the father your feet are under the machine, the tougher the pull-up will be, because the body weight you will be lifting will be heavier. You should mark where your feet are for your first set, and then scoot your feet further out from the bar for your second set to make it tougher.