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The way to progress on pull-ups isn’t as obvious as with other exercises. You can’t simply continue to add reps— you’ll just get stuck. One way is to wear a weighted belt to build more strength in the lats, but if you have a resistance band, you’ve got an even better tool to make solid gains.
Set the J-hooks of a power rack low to the floor, or use band pegs if your rack has them. Wrap the band around the hooks so it’s taut, and then hang from the bar and hook your feet under the uppermost length of the band. Perform pull-ups.
Unlike with a weighted belt, the resistance on the pull-up will decrease as you lower your body at the end of each rep. This allows you to store more elastic energy in your lats and improves “reversal strength”—the ability to pop out of the bottom position quickly.
Another benefit is increased core stability. When wearing a belt, you can still bend your knees, shortening the lever you have to overcome to do the lift (this makes pull-ups easier). Keeping your feet hooked under the band means your legs must remain straight, and that forces more work from your core to keep the movement under control
1. BANDS ARE CHEAPER: A good band will retail for around $5, while a pull-up/dip belt goes for more than $40.
2. EASIER TRANSITIONS: If you’re training with buddies, you can all use the same band rather than loading and unloading weight plates from a belt.
3. MORE VARIETY: Bands can be set at different angles to change the move, leading to more gains. a belt can give you only vertical resistance.
Jim Smith is a highly respected, world-renowned strength and conditioning coach. A member of the LIVESTRONG.com Fitness Advisory Board, Jim has been called one of the most “innovative strength coaches” in the fitness industry. Training athletes, fitness enthusiasts and weekend warriors, Jim has dedicated himself to helping them reach “beyond their potential.” He is also the owner of Diesel Strength & Conditioning in Elmira, NY.