Exercises You Should Be Doing (Band Assisted Pull-Ups)

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I have a simple rule I like to follow. If you can’t perform at least one body weight pull-up (if you’re a woman) or five body weight pull-ups (if you’re a man) or twenty pull-ups with a full grown elephant on your back (if you’re me), then you have no business what-so-ever spending ANY time performing arm curls. Ever.

I always find it comical how trainees will spend so much time training their biceps, yet can’t even perform a proper pull-up. Many people will revert to the lat pulldown machine, because well, it’s easy.

I’ll see some men who can pull the entire weight stack for ten repetitions and think it’s some great feat. Sorry fellas, watching a 27 year old woman vertical jump over 30 inches constitutes as a great feat. Heck, I would even go so far as to say watching the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy nonstop with no bathroom breaks would be a bigger accomplishment than performing “x” amount of repetitions on the lat pulldown machine.

Nevertheless, I do realize that many trainees cannot perform a proper pull-up without assistance. A great tool I like to use with clients is the concept of Accommodating Resistance.

In general, accommodating resistance refers to the concept of increasing muscular strength throughout the complete range of joint motion. Better yet, you can technically refer to it as a way to sustain near maximal force throughout the complete range of joint motion. This is the basic premise behind the use of bands and chains.

There comes a point when you’re doing an exercise (squats for example) where the force generated during the movement is less at certain joint angles compared to others. This is why you can handle more weight with one-fourth squats than you can with full squats (force-velocity curve).

Another great example is pull-ups. Instead of using the assisted pull-up machines that offer a counterbalance for trainees (hence, the lifter isn’t able to sustain maximal force throughout the duration of the movement), I like to use bands.

1. Take a Jump Stretch Band and loop it around the top of a pull-up bar so that the band hangs from the top.

2. Step onto a box and place the bottom of the band between your knee and ankle (mid shin, if you will). The leg with the band around it will be bent throughout the duration of the exercise. The opposite leg will be straight.

3. Start from the bottom position (don’t jump up) and pull yourself up to the bar till your chin reaches the top of the bar.

4. Return to the bottom position and repeat for the desired repetitions. With each set, switch up the leg that the band is around.

All in all, you get a little “boost” from the band at the bottom position (where you’re weakest), and as you get closer to the bar, you’re getting less “help” and pulling more of your own body weight (where you’re strongest due to the improved joint angle). As you get stronger and more efficient you can use bands with less tension, and before you know it, you’re performing pull-ups with your own body weight. You’re so cute.

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