Pull-ups for strong arms and upper body

We’ve all struggled our way through pull-ups and chin-ups in elementary school and beyond. The older we get, the heavier we are, the less in shape we are, the more difficult this exercise is to do. But pull-ups are a terrific exercise for overall upper body strength and endurance. You do have to be strong to do pull-ups, especially when attempting to do them correctly. Luckily, professional trainer Alan Orr will show you how to do several variations of pull-ups, including using a fitness band for support and help. Let’s take a look and get excited for once about this fantastic exercise.

Using a fitness band

Fitness bands are a great tool and for pull-ups they assist the upward movement of the exercise. Because it is flexible and wants to move from an expanded to a neutral position, the band will help handle some of your body weight by assisting with the pull up. This also allows you to work on proper form and techniques.

Pull-up pitfalls

Don’t hold your arms too far apart. This wide position pulls your arms apart and puts stress and pressure on your shoulders, which you don’t want.

Don’t wiggle your body from side to side to help make your way up. This may get you up there a few times, but defeats the purpose of the pull-up altogether. You want to develop strong arms (biceps, triceps, and deltoids), lats and shoulders.

Don’t scrunch and hunch your body to utilize different muscles and body parts outside the realm of what a pull up us designed to develop. Cheating the pull-up cheats the effort and the end result.

Proper position and use of band

For the best pull-up results you want parallel arms that are at your body width. Simply raise your arms up and grab ahold of the bar.

You can grab with palms facing outward or palms facing inward. Each way develops a little different area of the upper body. Both are terrific ways to develop strength.

When using a band, like in today’s video, simply bend one leg and rest the knee in the band.

Pulling up the toe of the extended leg will help make a deeper body connection from the foot to the abdominal obliques. This position helps to stabilize the abdominals and lower back for better core engagement and development.

How to do a pull-up

Although doing a pull-up seems like a no-brainer, there is actually a proper method. First, you want to avoid all the pitfalls mentioned above. But this is not enough. You want, also, to avoid pulling from the shoulders.

For best results and muscle engagement, you want to initiate the upward pull from the lats. This compacts your shoulders for the pull. Squeeze the lats, tense the abdominals and pull the transverse abs inward. Then slightly point up the toes for full connection.

Try for 4 sets of 10 pull ups with the band. Once you can do that, move on to pull-ups with no band. Consistency is the key. Repetitions on several days per week offers best results.

Reverse pull-ups help more

If pull-ups with the band are still too difficult, try reverse pull-up with the band. These are the opposite of a pull-up as you jump up into the completed pull-up position and slowly lower yourself for a count of 5 seconds.

If regular pull ups are too difficult now, try doing them with a fitness band. If the band is still too difficult, then try reverse pull-ups with the band. Eventually you will move up the chain of pull-up difficulty until you are able to do them on your own. In all cases, this seemingly simple exercise from grade school can help you regain strength, make you stronger, improve bone density, and help you become more coordinated.

Check out the video for all the details and variations.


Dr. Mark Wiley

By Dr. Mark Wiley

Dr. Mark Wiley is an internationally renowned mind-body health practitioner, author, motivational speaker and teacher. He holds doctorates in both Oriental and alternative medicine, has done research in eight countries and has developed a model of health and wellness grounded in a self-directed, self-cure approach. Dr. Wiley has written 14 books and more than 500 articles. He serves on the Health Advisory Boards of several wellness centers and associations while focusing his attention on helping people achieve healthy and balanced lives through his work with Easy Health Options® and his company, Tambuli Media.