Resistance band assisted pull-ups

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Resistance band assisted pull-ups

The pull-up is one of the most difficult exer­cises to execute. The same goes for chin-ups too, although they are just slightly easier since you begin with a palms turned toward you (underhand grip) on a bar which puts your biceps in a stronger line of pull. The wider grip of a pull-up isolates your lats, which means you get less assistance from your biceps. If at first you find you can’t perform even one pull-up (chin-up) with body weight, there are several ways to increase your upper-body strength before giving it another shot. The best way is to try  with the resistance band assisted pull-ups. Using an extra thick or wide resistance band that hooks over the handles and provides support or a spot is a smart choice.

In this post you’ll find out how to perform the pull-up with a long resistance band looped around the bar and under the feet. Pull-ups and chin-ups are hard for nearly everyone, so don’t get dis­couraged. If you stick with it, you’ll improve rapidly because it’s such a thorough strength-building exercise. The keys are effort and focus. And don’t forget: resistance band is here to help you in the transition period. However your main goal should always be transition to full body pull-ups. Good luck!

Exercise instruction for resistance band assisted pull-ups

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to perform this amazing back exercise.

STARTING POSITION (SETUP):

  • First, you’ll need one band. Loop a heavy elastic band around the pull-up bar, making sure the band is secure around the bar. Set a bench in front of the band and stand on the bench. Set one foot in the band loop then step down onto the bench. Now step into the band loop with the other foot (image 1). You also have a choice to put one or both knees into the loop of the band instead of stepping down on the band with your feet (see second image).
  • Set your hands on the handles and lower yourself down into the bottom of the dip. As you lower down, the bands will stretch and take up some of your body weight.

pull-ups with resistance tubing

resistance band assisted pull-ups

MOVEMENT (ACTION):

  • Take a deep breath, bend your legs, cross your feet behind you, squeeze your glutes, keep your chest up, look up, and start pulling yourself towards the bar. As you raise yourself up, let the resistance band do some of the work as it essentially bounces you back to the top.
  • Touch the sternum to the bar, and then lower the body in a controlled manner until the arms are fully extended. When you release back down, do so slowly, feeling the resistance band push against you as you lower down.
  • Engage your abs, and then bend your elbows to pull your body up again until your chin is above bar.
  • Perform the prescribed number of repetitions.
  • Step down carefully when you finish your workout.

Band-assisted pull-ups video demonstration

This video will show you exactly how to perform this exercise safely and effectively.

Exercise variations & replacement exercises

If for some reason you find out that the resistance band assisted pull-ups are not the best choice for you, you still have several other options available:

  • Assisted chin-ups or pull-ups on a machine that allows you to lift only a percentage of your body weight.
  • Assisted pull-up with a spotter. Your spotter should place his hands on your shoulder blades (a really good one will even help you squeeze your shoulder blades together at the start of the move) and provide smooth assistance upward and downward in relation to the bar. Never assist by holding someone’s feet—if your hands slip off the bar, you’ll head toward the floor face first.

Choosing the right resistance band

Choose a band based on its pounds of tension ratio; the higher the “weight” of the band, the more assistance it will provide. Each resistance band offers a different amount of tension, depending on the thickness of the bands. A thicker band will be harder to push or pull but will give you more assistance if using it for assisted body weight training (such as pull-ups). You want to use a higher level of resistance if you are a beginner. Choosing the right resistance band for band assisted pull-ups is not that hard at all.

resistamce bands for pull-ups

Additional tips & key points to remember

There are some tips that will help you get even more out of this already amazing upper body exercise:

  • Your aim is to raise your chest, not the tops of your shoulders, to meet the bar.
  • A perfect pull-up tops out with your chin rising just above the bar, and ends with steady inhalations as you slowly lower until your shoulders are at your ears and your elbows are locked straight.
  • Anything less – cheating on either end – will keep you from getting stronger.
  • Keep your shoulder blades pinched together, and keep your forearms as vertical as you can.
  • Throughout the pull-up you will need to engage your abs and use your breath to help lift your body up. But the best rule of pull-ups is: feel comfortable asking for a spot.
  • When you are lowering yourself down make sure you are in control of the movement.

Muscles engaged in resistance band assisted pull-ups

The pull-up is the best way to work the biggest muscle group in your upper body— your latissimus dorsi.

  • MAIN MUSCLES: latissimus dorsi, biceps (short head), teres major
  • SECONDARY MUSCLES: pectoralis major (lower and outside), triceps (long head), teres minor, rhomboids, brachioradialis, biceps (long head), deltoid (front and rear)
  • ANTAGONISTS: deltoid, pectoralis major (upper), triceps

Closing thoughts

Completing the pull-up movement correctly can become the Holy Grail of exercising for many people. For one thing, it requires really good technique—a combination of abdominal muscle control accompanied by powerful back muscles. If you can’t support the weight of your entire body, the best way to learn how to do pull-ups is to get assistance from a spotter or trainer, an exercise band or chair, or use an assisted pull-up machine. The assisted pull-up machines at gyms are excellent for those who lack the upper-body strength to perform many reps. At home, you can simulate these by attaching elastic resistance tubing to the pull-up bar and standing in loops.

As you can see there are many clever ways to build your pull-up skills. This exercise allows you to use bands to help you do pull-ups if you can’t do pull-ups with your full body weight. The band will help you more at the bottom and ease up at the top, helping you with the exercise at the hardest part of the range of motion.

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