I remember when I couldn’t perform one pullup.
Even as a kid at Robinson Middle School, I had trouble with them. I remember being evaluated during P.E. Running, crunches and pushups were always among the tests as were pullups. When it came time for me to jump on the pullup bar, I would somehow luck into one good pullup before I would just hang there and pull with all my might to no avail. It was frustrating that my body just wouldn’t go up.
Today, I’ll introduce a new piece of exercise equipment that I find useful and would have found helpful all those years ago. Jump Stretch bands are becoming more popular. You can find them at most sporting goods stores and retailers with an exercise section. You can also find them online. They turn any “pull hanger” into a “pullup-er.”
Jump Stretch bands are like a giant rubber band. They come in a variety of resistance levels depending on what your strength and training goals might be. They range anywhere from $10 to $40. The stronger the band, the less of your body weight you have to pull over the bar. Bands have a variety of uses for sport-specific training, resistance work and even mobility. Today, I will illustrate how to use them to improve your pullups and other bar work.
Many people find it difficult to complete even one pullup. With months of practice, they don’t seem to have the strength to get their chin over the bar. The assisted pullup machine available at many gyms is a great intermediate piece to help build strength; however, you may not always be at the gym. It’s also possible your gym may not have an assisted pullup machine, or it might be occupied. And that’s when the Jump Stretch band becomes useful. All you need is a sturdy pullup bar.
Anchoring the band to the bar is easy. Stand on a workout bench or plyo box to help you reach the bar. Just drape the band over the bar and pull one end through itself to make a sturdy loop around the bar. There is no need to consult the Scout handbook on knots or worry about the band slipping while you are hanging from it. All there is to it is a three-second loop and pull and you are good to go.
Hollow body is important in this exercise. It is a core exercise I featured earlier this year that translates well to other exercises. Check it out online at www.lvrj.com/trainer for specifics. Hollow body crunches usually are performed on the floor. When done while hanging from a bar, the hollow body form places the body into perfect pullup position. Too often the low back is in extension because the legs are bent. Even with body weight exercises it is preferred to have the spine straight and braced by the core muscles.
In the gym you may see different versions of pullups including the kipping pullup. Kipping pullups are a way to perform a regular pullup faster. Athletes under a time constraint or in competitions will use this movement. I recommend being able to perform 10 regular pullups before venturing into the kipping variation. The strength and technique of the strict version will keep your form solid for the kip as well as aiding in injury prevention.
The second exercise is a chinup. Some athletes find these to be easier than traditional pullups. You use more biceps strength with this variation. It is a good idea to interchange both exercises to diversify your routine. If chinups are difficult, feel free to use a band to assist you.
Chris Huth is a Las Vegas trainer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a Las Vegas trainer and want to share your love of fitness as a guest coach, please contact him. Consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.