If you have a love/hate relationship with pullups, you are not alone. You hate pullups because you have to lift your entire body weight with only your arms and back, and this is not easy. You love pullups because the challenge to your arm and back muscles makes them look gorgeous. A resistance band offers a slightly easier exercise that works the same muscles and increases your strength.
Exercise resistance bands are available in different types, lengths and strengths. The bands are flat, usually without handles. An exercise tube is round with handles on both ends. Some tubes are connected in the middle to provide double the resistance, and others are not. The bands are available in different resistance levels such as light, medium, heavy and extra heavy. You usually can buy a three-pack of bands that contains different resistance levels. Some bands are available in rolls which you cut to your desired length. Once you decide on the type, length and resistance you prefer, be sure you do not have a latex allergy. The bands are made of natural rubber, but latex-free bands are available if needed.
Unless you are very strong, you perform a pullup with both hands on the bar. You perform a pull-down with a resistance band in the same way; with both hands. The band mimics the position of the bar, except it is not anchored. Hold on to the band near the middle, with the ends hanging down. Straighten your arms overhead and face your palms forward. Exhale, bend your elbows and lower your arms out to your sides as you separate your hands and pull against the band. Stop when the band is close to or touches your chest. Inhale, straighten your arms and slowly return to the starting position.
For exercise variety and an increase in resistance as your strength improves, you can also perform the pull-down with the middle of the band anchored to a high point. For example, rest the middle of the band against the top of a door or over a basement beam. Hold on to an end of the band in each hand with your arms straight overhead and your palms facing forward. Exhale, bend your elbows and separate your hands as you pull down on the band. Aim your elbows toward your hips as you pull. Inhale, straigthen your arms and with control, return to the starting position. Do not let the band recoil fast and pull up your arms.
Another variety for the pullup is to use one arm instead of two. Duplicate this exercise with your resistance band, but ensure that you are equally training both sides of your back. This is a nonanchored exercise, so you are not limited to a specific location. Hold the band in both hands positioned shoulder-distance apart. Straighten your arms overhead. Exhale, bend your right elbow and lower your right arm until your hand is near your shoulder. Inhale and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat with your left hand.
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.