Band Assisted Pull Ups

Why Are Pull Ups SO Challenging?

Pulls= ups may look easy but once you try them you will soon learn they are very challenging! Many people have difficulty performing them even if they are in good shape.  It is a compound exercise that involves multiple muscle groups to work together.  It is one of the toughest body weight exercises out there and it requires a lot of upper body strength.  When you are performing a pull up you are lifting your entire body weight. If you weigh 150 lbs then you are lifting 150 lbs!!  Not many people can do that!

How To Do A Proper Pull Up

The first step is to stand under a bar and grab it with both hands.  Your grip on the bar should be slightly shoulder width apart with your palms facing away from you.  Now you will hang from the bar.  When doing a pull up your whole body needs to be engaged.  You will want to engage your core (pull your belly button into your spine).  Your body should be in a vertical line which means you start from a dead hang.  Now here comes the hard part!   Your arms are completely straight and your shoulder blades are pulled together. It is your back and arms that pull your body up as you engage your abs.  Try to resist the urge to swing your legs and pull your body up.  Your chin should go above the bar.   Next, slowly lower your body back down.  The movement should begin as a dead hang and end with a dead hang. Check out the video below to see a tutorial on doing a pull up properly.

What If You Can’t Do a Pull Up Yet?

As I mentioned above pull ups are one of the toughest body weight exercises and requires A LOT of strength. Without some proper training, doing a pull up is nearly impossible. This is where resistance bands are helpful! Resistance bands make pull ups easier by offsetting some of your body weight.  Using a resistance band to assist with a pull up is ideal. This helps you understand the movement and technique to properly doing a pull up. There are different exercises and weight machines available that can help you gain strength to eventually be able to do a pull up. However, the bands give you the closest feeling of doing an unassisted pull up.

How To Use A Band to Assist with Pull Ups

First, you will need to fasten a band onto your pull up bar one side through the other.  Once your band is securely in place, the same form is used. Your hands should be placed slightly more than shoulder width apart. You then pull the resistance band down so you can place your feet inside of it. It is suggested that you place one foot in the band pulling down all the way before putting your other foot on the band. Using both feet will provide you with the most assistance.  Once this is mastered, you can use one foot to make it slightly harder.  You can also put your knee in the band rather than your feet/foot for more of a challenge.  Next engage your whole body, shoulders are pulled back and pull your chin above the bar. When finished take the slack out of the band and remove your foot or knee. This prevents the band from swinging up and hitting you. Check out the video to see how a band assisted pull can be done! WOD Nation is popular choice when trying to master a pull-up.

What Size of Band Should I Use For My Band Assisted Pull Up?

Bands come in varying sizes and colors.  They may be called large, medium, small or heavy, medium or light. The colors depend on the company you purchase them from. You will need to select a resistance that best suits your fitness needs. It’s important to choose the right size so you can perform the movement properly and not hurt yourself. If you are just beginning to do a pull up I suggest starting with the large/heavy band. This band is the thickest one. The thicker the band the greater resistance you have. This will allow you to learn the proper technique to doing a pull up. The medium band would be the next band you would use. It still provides a lot of resistance but less than the large/thick band. The small/light band is the thinnest band and provides the least resistance. You can even use multiple bands at once to provide you with some extra support if needed.

How You Know if You Are Ready for the Next Band

When you are choosing the band that’s best suited for you, you should be able to perform the full movement. You must be able to fully pull yourself up with your chin above the bar and end in a dead hang with your arms completely straight.  I recommend doing around 10 reps without compromising proper form.  Start with both feet in the band. Once you can do around 10 reps with good form progress by only using one foot.  Lastly, perform your pull up putting either both or one knee in the band.  Once you can confidently do them with proper form then move on to the next band.  Remember if the next band seems too difficult you can always use more than one band for more support!   Before you know it you will be able to do a pull up on your own!

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. stefanie taylor

    I’m really into fitness so this was a really interesting post for me. One thing I have never been able to conquer is the dreaded pull-up. I like to make the excuse that it’s because I’m a girl, but then I see other girls doing them in the gym haha.

    My boyfriend even assembled a pull up bar in the house and I still can’t even do just one. I find this weird as I am a gym bunny and do lots of muscle building exercise but I still struggle with this one thing. In fact, the last time I tried I just pulled a muscle in my chest that left me in agony for days. I’m thinking maybe I need to try a pull up band like you suggest in this post and maybe take my upper body strength to new levels. Thanks

    1. Tessa

      Hi Stefanie,
      I agree pull ups are very difficult. I have always wanted to do a pull up and worked really hard at it. When I was going to the gym a lot I was able to do do kipping pull up. Doing a strict pull up has always been a goal of mine. Using the resistance bands has been helping me progress. It’s a good way to also get the proper technique down.

  2. Marius

    Great and very informative article about Pull-ups Tessa. As a personal trainer, I can say that your article is very accurate and on point. Pull up is probably one of the most challenging bodyweight exercises. But it is one of the most beneficial ones too. Doing pull-ups your entire back, shoulders, arms, and abs are working, Many years ago I couldn’t do not single pull up. Using a band is a great way to assist you to do a pull-up. In fact, resistance bands helped me in the past to train and be able to do pull-ups. Your advice of doing around ten reps and changing to the band with less resistance is great and that’s what you have to do until you will be able to do pull-ups without a resistance band. Now I can do around 15 pull-ups without any help and years ago I couldn’t do any single one. Thank you for sharing this great article.

    1. Tessa

      Thanks Marius for your feedback. Pull ups are definitely difficult. I know using a resistance band has helped me progress with my pull ups. I look forward to the day I can do them without any help!

  3. Hans

    Great post! I’ve also been trying out both reverse pull up and band assisted pull up previously when I cant even do a single rep. I find that both are really useful in training me. Today I am proud that I am able to do 10 pull ups in one shot!

    1. Tessa

      That is great!! Congrats on the 10 pull ups! I also find using my bands very helpful. For so many months I was doing pull ups incorrectly. The bands have helped me learn the proper technique and I am looking forward to being able to do a strict pull up without a band!

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