How to Do Your First Pull-Up

by William Duffield on October 21, 2020

Pull-ups can be a tremendously effective exercise and certainly one of the most beneficial exercises you can do. They are also among the most challenging of bodyweight exercises too, allowing huge gains in strength to be made without additional any additional resistance. Muscles worked during the movement include latissimus dorsi, lower trapezius, rhomboid major and minor, teres major and biceps.

What if I Can’t Do Any Pull-Ups?

A stumbling block for many people is not having the strength required to perform pull-ups with their full bodyweight. This is a common problem and can sometimes prevent people from reaping the full benefits of the movement. A potential solution is to perform only the negative or eccentric part of the exercise, in order to firstly build the strength required to progress to the full range of motion. This can be done by stepping onto a raised platform such as a bench or box (positioned near the pull-up bar) and starting the movement from the top position and lowering yourself down. You would then simply increase the repetitions of the negatives until you can progress to a full range pull-up.

Whilst negative pull ups can be useful in some cases, a better way to build the strength required to perform full range pull ups with your bodyweight is to use a resistance band to provide some assistance during the exercise. Using an exercise band for pull-ups allows the exercise to be performed in it’s full range of motion right away. With correct training programming and recovery, progression from using a large resistance band for pull-ups to no band at all may be faster than you might think, although the rate of progression can vary greatly from one person to another.

Even if you are able to perform unassisted pull-ups, using a band can provide more diversity in your training, allowing you to incorporate a greater number of reps and sets than you would otherwise be able to without a band.

How to Choose a Resistance Band for Assisted Pull-ups

Before performing assisted Pull-ups using a resistance band you will need to ensure you select a band that will provide the appropriate amount of assistance for you depending on your own bodyweight and current strength.

Remember that the stronger the resistance band you use, the easier the pull-up becomes. Therefore, if you are new to performing pull-ups you should choose a heavy duty pull-up band to help get you started. As you progress in strength you can switch to using lighter pull-up bands accordingly. Follow the tips below and you will be performing full range unassisted pull-ups in no time at all!

Choosing a resistance band for assisted pull-ups can be a little confusing for many people. To help with the process of selecting a band we have created the chart below. Suggestions for which band to choose are based on your current strength levels and bodyweight. These are general guidelines only as individual needs do vary of course but use this exercise chart as a starting point. Where you see two colours displayed in one square our suggestion is to use two bands combined. For example, if you weigh between 64-82 kilos and can perform 6-9 unassisted pull ups then you would use both a red and purple band together.




How to Use a Resistance Band for Assisted Pull-Ups

Safety Tips

  • Check for damage on your band before every use and do not use if you see any signs of damage

  • Always ensure that the resistance band is securely fastened to the bar before performing the exercise

  • Use the size guide to select the band which is appropriate for you and your goals

  • Consider using a box set up at a height which allows you to easily stand on to help get into the starting position and to provide support if you get into difficulty during the movement

Set up

1. Loop the band around a bar as shown

2. Pull the long part of the band through so the knot is secure

3. The band should now be firmly in place and ready to use. Consider using a box or bench in order to reach the band comfortably


4. Pull the band down towards your feet and place either one of your feet or one of your knees in the band, depending on your preference

5. Grip the bar with evenly spaces hand positioning


1. Step off the box and maintain a stable body position

2. Pull yourself up maintaining a straight body position until your chin is above the bar

3. Pause at the top position for two seconds and then lower yourself back to the start position under control



Alternative Grips

There are a variety of grips you can experiment with in order to find what what works best for you.

• Underhand: clasp the bar with palms facing up just under shoulder width apart

• Overhand: Clasp the bar with palms facing down shoulder width apart

• Wide Grip: Clasp the bar with palms facing down approximately 1/2 foot outside shoulder width. Note: Wider grip will be more challenging

Top Tips

1. Slow the tempo down throughout the upwards and downwards phase to improve your size and strength

2. Set two bands up on top of each other. Perform as many reps as possible with both bands, then drop one band off and perform as many reps as possible with only one band

3. Perform one half rep in between every full rep to supercharge your size and physique goals


We hope this information will help you get the maximum results from the pull-up exercise. Want more help with using resistance bands? See our accompanying exercise guides here on our website or contact us at and we would be happy to help!