Banded Pull-Ups: Exercise Demo, Muscles Worked, and Benefits

Banded pull ups are one of the most widely seen bodyweight movement regressions of the pull up. Powerlifters, weightlifters, bodybuilders, CrossFit® athletes, and fitness goers alike can be seen grabbing bars around the globe and performing this movement. Sometimes however, despite our best efforts, we cannot seem to perform a full strict pull up due to lack of strength, muscle mass, and/or motor mechanics.

Therefore, in this article we will discuss the banded pull up, a pull up regression that can be used for all lifters and athletes needing assistance in the pull up.

Banded Pull-Up Exercise Demo

Below is a banded pull up exercise demo, which can be done using a wide array of band assistance to met the strength abilities of most athletes. The thicker the band, the greater assistance and therefore allowing less strong lifters the opportunity to train pull ups.

Muscles Worked

The banded pull up works similar muscle groups to the standard strict pull up, with the slight variation to it may increase one’s ability to isolate the lats better due to increased ability to perform the movement and therefore make a lasting muscular contraction. Often, when lifters have issues doing pull ups without bands, the movement can quickly turn into a total body lift, where the lifter fails to recruit and isolate the lats and scapular stabilizers. Like the lat pulldown machine (see below), the band assisted pull up can be used for even advanced athletes to increase muscle contraction and training volume specifically to the lats.

  • Latissimus Dorsi (lats/back)
  • Upper Trapezius
  • Serratus
  • Rhomboids
  • Biceps
  • Forearms

Benefits of Banded Pull-Ups

Pull ups are beneficial for lifters and athletes of all levels, making the banded pull up just as vital in the movement progression. Below are four unique benefits that coaches and athletes of all levels (yes, even more advanced athletes) can expect when integrating banded pull up work into skill training, hyperthy blocks, and more.

Regression of Strict Pull Up

This may or may not come to a surprise to some, but the banded pull up is a direct regression upon the strict bodyweight pull up. For those lifters and athletes who fail to properly perform strict pull ups due to poor movement mechanics, strength, and/or muscle mass, this banded pull up can be a viable training exercise to develop the raw muscle and strength necessary for this movement, while also patterning the direct motor patterning needed to perform strict pull ups.

Bodyweight Strength and Muscular Endurance

Bodyweight movements like the pull up, push up, handstand push up, body row, squat, lunge, hip raise, plank, jump, etc. should be mastered by every athlete in order to build the foundation necessary for all types of training. Failure to perform strict pull ups, regardless of sport and/or gender is a glaring strength and movement deficiency that should not go unnoticed or unaddressed. Once you have performed banded pull ups, all athletes must master the strict pull up to develop necessary strength and muscle mass for later movements and exercise progressions, regardless of sport and/or training goal.

Increased Muscle Hypertrophy

Due to the band assisting the movement, lifters and athletes are able to perform more repetitions than without any bands. Increasing the number of repetitions, as well as the time under tension (as more repetitions per set will increase more time under load) has been shown to be the primary influence on muscle increase and protein synthesis. Using banded pull ups for more advanced athletes can also help them perform slower, more controlled and contracted pull up repetitions that otherwise would be done using strict bodyweight at faster speeds and with potentially less muscle engagement.

Advanced Gymnastics Progressions

While banded pull ups may not be correlated directly with more advanced gymnast and functional fitness bar work (such as muscle ups, body rows, etc) it can surely allow intermediate and advanced lifters to gain better control and skill while having some assistance in such movements. By helping athletes slightly with a band assist, the lifter will not be limited on strength and/or muscle mass, but rather skill or a movement. Lastly, using banded pull ups when looking to progression bar muscle ups, kipping bar pull ups, etc, you can get more skill training in due to the athletes being able to perform more repetitions with given loads due to the assistance of the band.

More Band Assisted Movement Ideas

Take a look at some of the movement ideas regarding band training that can help you add kilos to your lifts!

Featured Image: @crossfitranchocucamongo on Instagram