Banded Pull-Ups vs. Ring Rows

The banded pull-up and the ring row are two bodyweight exercises that can (and should) be mastered by all levels of fitness goers and athletes. While both of these exercises may seem similar, they do have their very drastic differences and benefits that coaches and athletes (of all levels) should be aware of.

Therefore, in this article we will discuss the differences between banded pull ups vs ring rows, and how you can use the below information to build better programs, get stronger, and increase your gymnastic skills.

The Banded Pull Up

The banded pull up is a regressed version of the strict pull up, which can be performed for a variety of reasons and with a variety of bands. In a previous article we discussed the banded pull up, exercise demo, and why all levels (not just beginners) can benefit from such a movement.

Banded Pull Up Exercise Demo

In the below video demonstration the banded pull up is performed using a resistance band. This can be helpful for those lifters who do not have the strength and/or body awareness to perform un-banded strict pull ups.

Benefits of the Banded Pull Up

The banded pull up offers all level coaches and athletes a variety of benefits, not just beginners. For starters, this can allow lifters to actually perform a smooth, fluid, and mechanical correctly pull up that otherwise would not occur due to lack of strength and muscle mass. By doing so, the banded pull up also allows for increased strength and back hypertrophy, with the added benefits that it is directly patterning strict pull ups and other gymnastic movements. Lastly, it helps lifters and athletes find body awareness and core stability during the movement, which is often not seen when lat pulldown machines are programmed for those who cannot typically do strict pull ups.

The Ring Row

The ring row is an inverted row variation that has a lifter perform body rows with the feet either on the ground or on a bench, rowing their torso upwards. In an earlier article we discussed the inverted row and all of its popular variations (ring, bar, TRX, etc).

Ring Row Exercise Demo

In the below video demonstration, the ring row is demonstrated. Note that this is very similar to other inverted row variations, with the exception that it is performed using gymnastics rings, which increases the stability, core strength, and body awareness needed to stabilize the body throughout the motion. In addition, the ring row can work unilateral strength and stability as both rings move independent from one another.

Benefits of the Ring Row

Ring rows offer coaches and athletes a unique way to increase upper back, grip, arm, and core strength in a movement that is very sport specific to functional fitness and gymnastics. Much like any other inverted row, this movement works the lats and erectors, builds upper body pulling strength, and can help to increase isometric stability and strength in the body. Additionally, this movement is necessary for most pulling and muscle up movements, as lifters need to be comfortable and have body awareness and strength when in the supine position.

Banded Pull Up vs Ring Row

In the below section we will discuss the differences between the banded pull up and the ring row in regards to three important training consideration below. Please note that there are surely many more differences and similarities between the banded pull up and the ring row, however these below three that can have the largest impact on programming and training most athletes.

Degree of Difficulty

Both movements have the ability to be regressed and progressed accordingly, and therefore this one’s a toss up. For many people, more band resistance on a banded pull up with be very similar difficulty to a ring row where the lifter/athlete starts in a more upright standing position (body at 45 degree angle to floor, rather than parallel). As the lifter progresses, both can be made more challenging to work the specific needs of the lifter.

Muscles Worked

While both movements are technically back strengtheners, the ring row and the banded pull up are very different movement patterns, and therefore should both be included into a well balance training program. The ring row is a horizontal pulling movement, whereas the banded pull up is a vertical pulling movement. To build a better back, both structurally and muscularly, coaches and athletes must do both vertical and horizontal pulling movement for the upper body, just like a well balanced lower body included both pulls (deadlifts) and squats.

Application to Gymnastic Movements

Both movements technically are vital for the progression into gymnastic training, competitively or at the functional fitness level. Bar and gymnastic ring work is a necessary skill that many lifters and athletes must develop, and therefore both of these movements should be done to progress lifters and athletes to more challenging movements like strict pull ups, bar muscle ups, ring pull ups, ring muscle ups, and more.

Build a Better Back

Check out these two articles if you want to build a bulletproof back and body (both lower and upper back)!

Featured Image: @josegonzalezb1 on Instagram

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