I am sure that in the future there will be more exercises I will change my mind about. But I am not worried to admit it. I know that there is so much more I can learn and that things I believe in today, through the eyes of tomorrow, the gathered experience and knowledge, might look like a mistake!
Today I’d like to share with you my opinion about pull ups. Or to be more accurate my opinion about band assisted pull ups and their place in your workouts.
First of all I will start with some pre history. I bet that all of you who have been reading my blog for a while, are totally aware that back in the days all my desperate tries to complete a pull up, ended with me hanging from the bar, as if I was a hoodie on the wash line… i.e. I couldn’t pull myself up even to save my life. Then, I decided to order a set of resistance bands and do band assisted pull ups. I started with the biggest bands and I gradually became stronger. Then, one day, all of a sudden I decided to try an unassisted pull up and for my surprise I DID IT!
So, initially I started worshiping the bands and I used them with my clients as well.
Some time went by, I gathered some more experience and knowledge and I changed my opinion. That’s why I wanted to share with you the conclusions I made, and if your opinion resonates with mine, you could proceed the way I do. If not, I will be glad to hear your arguments.
The set of bands consist of bands with different colors and each color corresponds to a particular load capacity. The wider the band, the heavier weight it can handle. So, people who have weaker upper body and can not do pull ups, would be supposed to use the wider band for assisted pull ups. And then progress, until they start using the most narrow bands and make the pull up harder.
Or at least this was my point of view at the beginning. I did the vertical pull down and the assisted pull ups. But today I see things differently and this was not the best approach!
My observations show me that when you ask somebody, who has weaker upper body, and especially someone who is heavier, to do a band assisted pull up, even if it’d be with a wider band, he would rarely manage to complete the pull up with proper technique. Usually, he/she will compensate for the lack of strength by not pulling with the muscles on the back, but just with the shoulders. Besides that most people usually have a imbalance between both hands and you will inevitably notice this when they do a couple reps. Then the strongest hand will try to compensate and do more work.
So, I came to the conclusion that bands have their role, but not at the beginning of your preparation. What I am trying to say is that it is far better to emphasize on the vertical pull downs, plus other pulling movements, but do not rush into doing assisted pull ups.
In my opinion bands should be included when the trainee has advanced, when he has mastered the proper pulling technique, i.e. he is using his back muscles and not trying to compensate with the shoulder; when he has become stronger and he needs just a final push to complete his first unassisted pull up.
That’s when you can use the most narrow bands, with which you can do assisted pull ups. This will let the trainee to overcome the mind barrier and in the same time it will give the final push, which will help him do a body weight pull up.
I know that sometimes, in our desire to improve or do more exercises, we skip the boring, lame preparation, which in reality is what we desperately need, in order to build the foundations. I guarantee you that you will manage to complete a body weight pull up, with proper technique, a lot faster if you emphasize on the vertical pull downs and other pulling movements, than if you rush into using the resistance bands.
Sure, if you are advanced and you need just that final push, you can go ahead and use the bands. But in all other cases, these exercises ( read HERE) will help you become stronger!
Check out HERE one more exercise I changed my mind about!
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