Mastering Bodyweight Exercise

Humans Becoming Better

How To Use Pull Up Bands To Achieve Full Pull Ups

Pull up bands can help anyone achieve a strict dead hang pull up, if they follow the proper progression.

Pull up bands can help anyone achieve a strict dead hang pull up, if they follow the proper progression.

Pull up Bands can help you get over the strength gap that’s keeping you back from achieving dead hang pull ups.

In this article I’ll explain how to select bands based on your size, and how to use them to work progressively toward unassisted pull ups.

This article is an addendum to my more complete article explaining the benefits of pull ups and how you can use bodyweight exercises (no bands) to achieve them.

The Pull Up Bands Progression Series


The pull up bands progression series relies on standard fitness resistance bands (sometimes called pull up bands) to offset some of your bodyweight and make pull ups easier. By doing reps with the bands, you improve your strength and open the door to eventually doing pull ups without any assistance.

How to loop your resistance  band over a bar so you can do assisted pullups.
How to loop your resistance band over a bar so you can do assisted pullups.

The thicker your pull up band, the more weight it takes off you, and the easier the assisted pull ups you do with it are.

The weaker and heavier you are right now, the thicker your band will have to be to compensate.

So how thick of a resistance band do you need when you’re starting off?

It depends on how strong you are currently in your lats and biceps (which is hard to quantify if you can’t yet do a single pull up), and what your current bodyweight is.

If you currently cannot do any pull ups, check out the chart below, which gives a suggested starting band resistance strength based on your bodyweight.

Your Weight: 90 to 120 lbs 121 to 150 lbs 151 to 200 lbs 201 to 250 251 to 300
Pounds Of Resistance To Seek In A Band: 40 to 80 lbs 50 to 120 lbs 50 to 120 lbs 50 to 120 lbs 60 to 150 lbs


Take your first band and do assisted pull ups with them (explained below) at least three times a week, with at least one rest day between each session. Aim for two to three sets of the maximum amount of reps you can do in each training session.

Once you can do five to ten strict dead-hang pull ups with your starting resistance band, it’s time to upgrade to the next lightest one, which you’ll use till you can do a minimum of five full pull ups on it.

Generally, most people will be able to do one to three pull ups on the their next-hardest band when they’ve achieved somewhere between five and ten pull ups on their current band.

Once you can do five pull ups on a band that offers 40 to 80 lbs of resistance, you can upgrade to one that offers 30 to 50 lbs of resistance, and then one that offers 5 to 15 lbs pounds of resistance.

If you’d like to get a set of bands that will allow you to progress all the way through to a full pull ups, this set should work if you weigh less than 251 pounds.

How To Do Band-Assisted Pull Ups

Band-Assisted Pullup

Throw your band over a horizontal bar and pull one end of the loop through the other end. Place one foot in the hanging end of the loop.

Jump up to the bar and hang from it with completely straight arms (maintain a slight engagement in the shoulders to protect your ligaments).

With a controlled motion and without any bouncing or momentum, slowly pull yourself upward over the course of two seconds until your chin comes over the bar. Hold here for a moment, and then slowly come back down for another two seconds.

Repeat until you cannot complete another pull up.

Rest for three to five minutes, and then do your next set.

Moving On Up


If you follow the pull up bands series consistently, you’ll quickly progress to toward your goal of unassisted dead hang pullups.

  • Would you prefer to achieve pullups without using pull up bands? Check out this article.
  • If you’re ready to move on to other bodyweight exercises that will make you stronger and fitter, check out the list on this page.

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