Here’s the final blog to complete the series of 4 exercises to get you in shape in no time!
So far we’ve looked at the lunge, squat and press-up. That’s two lower body exercises and one upper body exercise. The forth exercise is another upper body exercise – The Band Pull-up.
The pull-up is an exercise that works many muscles in the body and is functional to everyday arm movements. It is the extending and flexing of the elbows and shoulders that works muscles throughout the whole of the upper body. The pull-up develops the muscles of the back, shoulders, arms, trunk, and hands. When working the shoulder, it not only strengthens the large muscle groups, but it also works the smaller muscles that stabilize the scapula, facilitating improved posture. The benefits to the trunk are surprising as the core does get a fantastic workout! Often those who are new to pull-ups report aching abs the day after, even though they’ve done no isolated abdominal work.
Why the band?
Pull-ups are extremely hard. They are so hard that most normal people can’t even perform one pull-up. In fact, I would suggest that you start with chin-ups (palms facing towards you) and progress to pull-ups (palms facing away from you) once you have improved your level of strength. The band is useful because it assists you in performing the movement. Fortunately you can choose the strength of band, depending on your ability. The stronger you are, the less assistance you will need, so using a thin band that contracts with less force will be fine. If you are new to this exercise, I advise getting a strong, thick band that will enable you to perform a few reps to get started. As your strength increases, the number of repetitions you can do in each set will increase. The great thing about using a band is that it gives the most assistance when it is under most tension. The most difficult part of the pull up is at the start of each pull up, when your arms are straight and the band is stretched. Hence, when you need the most help it gives it! As your elbows get into a more flexed, mechanically stronger position where you require less help, the band offers less assistance.
Here’s how to do it
Loop the band round a stable bar and thread it through itself. Hook the loose end of the band round one or two knees, take hold of the bar and hang with your arms straight. If you have hypermobile joints, do not fully lock out your shoulders and elbows in this bottom position, but keep them very slightly bent. Then bend your knees and cross your feet behind you. Make sure your grip on the bars is narrower than shoulder distance apart if you are doing chin-ups and hands slightly wider than shoulder distance apart if you are doing pull-ups. Pull hard and keep pulling until your chin is over the bar. That is one repetition. Lower yourself down slowly to the starting position, then try to do a second repetition. Repeat until you can no longer get your chin up over the bar.
Progressing your pull-ups
I would suggest starting with 3 sets of 5 reps. As this gets easier, begin to increase the number of reps until you can complete 3 sets of 10 reps. When you successfully manage this, move onto a thinner band that provides less assistance and go back to doing 3 sets of 5 reps and build up again. As you continue to get stronger, add repetitions and change to thinner bands that give less help. Ensure you take adequate rest between sets (between 1 and 2 minutes), or perform a leg exercise between your sets of pull-ups.
As with the other exercises, try doing this twice a week initially, and you will begin to see improvements. After 6 weeks of consistency, you should see some amazing results!
Let me know how you get on. Happy training!