Knowing how to use resistance bands to train pull-ups is like having a cheat code. The elasticity of the band provides just the right assistance to allow you to lift your body weight and build strength. Training this way can bridge the gap between those clunky pull-up assist machines and the real thing. 

Training pull-ups is hard no matter which method you choose, but finding the “best” band in a crowded market might be even harder! And so, there are several factors to consider when it comes to choosing the best band for pull-up training: 

  • quality
  • durability
  • cost
  • portability
  • versatility

[Related: Types of Resistance Bands to Build Strength]


WODFitters Pull Up Assistance bands are made of natural rubber with anti-snap technology. The bands come in five assistance/resistance levels that can be ordered separately or as a set. WODFitters suggests ordering 2 to 3 different levels so that you can combine them for multiple assistance/resistance levels (the first band, the second band, and the combination of the two). 

WODFitters touts that their bands are perfect for adding resistance to your workout or learning/building bodyweight moves such as pull-ups, ring dips, and muscle ups. They provide a simple chart to help you figure out what color band you need based on how much you weigh and how many unassisted pull-ups you can do. 

These bands have more than 7,500 reviews, 78% of which are five stars. Users highlight that they are versatile, sturdy, and excellent quality. One downside is that they have a sheen to them that can cause them to be slippery if you sweat on them. WODFitters is a woman-owned, U.S.-based small business since 2013. 


Eackrola and WODFitters offer very similar products. This brand has six levels of assistance/resistance, which may be helpful if you like to progress in small increments. The set of six is far more affordable than ordering one or two at a time and comes with a simple band to carry them to and from the gym (There’s a 20% coupon available at checkout!). These bands also come with a manual that shows suggested exercises to perform if you are looking for a full body workout along with pull-up progressions. 

Eackarola also provides a chart to figure out what color band you need based on weight and ability. These bands are made of eco-friendly natural latex which provides heavy resistance and can withstand high tension loading. 

Nearly 85% of reviewers gave these bands five stars on Amazon. Users pointed out that these work as well as the more expensive name brand competitors. Notably, they also described these bands as durable and easy to transport to and from workouts. A note of caution: they can melt together if left in hot spaces for too long. 



The INNSTAR Pull Up Assist Band system is easy to install, remove, and adjust based on your space. The cables are protected by extra sleeves which means you do not have to worry about being whipped if the tube slips or snaps during exercise. The product is also covered by a 100% lifetime guarantee. 

This option is less versatile than resistance bands as this product is made solely to build your pull-up. 

The tool has a lot of good reviews, but some users have found that it does not have strength to help with full or near full body weight. One user specifically suggests that this is a great product if you’re looking for 40 to 50 pounds of assistance. If you’re not sure if this is the right product for you, INNSTAR does offer a 14-day money back guarantee, but the product must be UNUSED and in the original packaging to qualify (Amazon’s return policy may be more forgiving).



The INTENT SPORTS Pull Up Assist Bands are made of natural rubber rather than latex. These are intended for pull-ups specifically and come with a set-up guide, exercise guide, exercise videos, and a bag to carry it all. The band changes length depending on how much assistance you need so you can spend less time figuring out how to get your legs into a traditional loop band. 

The product claims its ‘smart’ patented system helps you work to full weight by developing strength faster, but does not answer the question “faster than what?”

 Other users find the product easy to use and even call it a must-have for anyone who cannot do pull-ups on their own. A couple of users felt the product was awkward to get in and out of and that it does not provide as much assistance as it claims. This product may not be as easy to loop around the bar as a band that can just be thrown over the top. If you’re using this with a pull-up bar at home where it can be placed once and stay there, this is less of a potential issue than if you are taking it on and off a bar at the gym. 


Arena Strength

Arena Strength’s Long Fabric Resistance Bands are one of few fabric options for pull-ups on the market. They claim they will never break, which may be a selling point; the use of fabric rather than rubber or latex also means the fear of a band snapping and leaving a welt is not an issue. 

These bands come with a workout guide to strengthen your entire body; there is also an app/website, although based on user reviews it seems to leave more to be desired. This set of four bands allows you to use them for resistance or assistance depending on your program.

These are the most cost-effective bands because they never break—and therefore never have to be replaced. However, they will likely lose elasticity over time. Most users like these bands. They’re easy to use at home or to take with you when you travel. Some found that the resistance from this type of band is not comparable to what you get with latex or rubber bands. 

The set is $44 (with a 10% coupon available) which is middle of the road for this type of product however several reviewers felt these were over priced compared to their competitors. Arena Bands are created for women, by women and pride themselves on their goal of answering customer questions within 24 hours. 

How do I choose the resistance level?

You choose the proper band strength based on what it takes to move your body weight. If you can move your body through half of the pull-up motion without assistance from the band, you’ll need less resistance than someone who is unable to start the upward motion.

The right band is the one that allows you to do 8 to 12 repetitions with proper form. If you can do more than 12, the band is helping too much; if you cannot get to 8 reps, you need more assistance. Keep in mind, you may need a combination of bands to get to the right level of assistance as you build your pull-up.

How do I progress my pull-ups with a resistance band?

When it comes to progressing your pull-ups you can think of your resistance band as an assistance band. The thicker the band, the more assistance you will get. 

The thickness of the band you start with depends on your current pull-up ability level and your planned sets and repetitions. If you can only hang from the bar (no appreciable upward motion when you initiate the pull), you may want the thickest band possible. If you’re getting stuck halfway through the motion, you may be able to start with less assistance and work from there. 

Working to complete sets of pull-ups requires different training than working to build your first pull-up. If the goal is to get a single pull-up, you can progress to less assistance faster than if you are trying to finish 3 sets of 10 pull-ups. 

Your programming to build a single pull-up might look like this: 

  • Weeks 1–2: Use a band that provides moderate to heavy assistance to perform 3 sets of 8–10 reps. 
  • Weeks 3–4: Use a band that provides light to moderate assistance to perform 3 sets of 5–8 reps. 
  • Weeks 5–6: Use a band that provides minimal to light assistance to perform 3 sets of 3–5 reps. 
  • Weeks 7–8: Use a band that provides minimal assistance to perform 3 sets of 1–3 reps.

One key training component where the bands are helpful in building strength is they allow you to emphasize the ‘negative’ or eccentric portion of the exercise. 

What kind of pull-up bar should I use?

The type of pull-up bar you use will likely depend on the space you have available. In the traditional gym setting, it is easy to find large, sturdy contraptions that are intended for pull-ups. In your home gym, you may need to consider structural integrity when deciding between a doorway, wall-mounted, ceiling-mounted, or free-standing pull-up bar. 

Doorway bars are the easiest to install and remove. Their portability makes them a good option if you have limited space or move a lot. Wall-mounted bars require a little more commitment. 

Wall-mounted pull-up bars can support more weight than the doorway variety but also require a more difficult installation process to establish a sturdy base to work from. 

Ceiling mounted bars are also an option if you can get it safely (professionally) installed. This is also a better option than the doorway style if there is more weight to be supported. 

Free-standing pull-up bars require the most space. They work well inside or outside, can support heavier weights, and provide a lot of stability. 

The bar you choose should be sturdy, able to support your body weight (plus added weight if that is in your training plan), have a comfortable grip, and be set to a height that allows you full range of motion on both ends of the pull-up. 




What muscles do I use for a pull-up?

The primary muscles involved in a pull-up are the latissimus dorsi (latin for “wide back”) and biceps brachii. 

Latissimus dorsi, commonly known as the “lats,” is the large, flat muscle that makes up most of your back. They start in the lower spine area and attach on your humerus (arm bone). Their job is to pull your arms back down to your sides from overhead. 

The more common “biceps” work to bend your elbow which is a critical component of the pull-up. As your lats pull your arms down to your side, your elbows bend to pull your body weight up to get your head/chin over the bar. 

Your rotator cuff, deltoids, abdominals also play large secondary roles to assist the biceps in lats during this move. 

[More: Can You Build Muscles with Resistance Bands?]

What are the different ways to do a pull-up? 

There are many ways to do a pull-up. The most common variations are the grip you choose and the distance between your hands on the bar. 

  • Standard: this type of pull-up is done with your hands shoulder width apart on the bar and both palms facing away from your body.
  • Supinated grip: also called a “chin-up,” this is performed with your hands shoulder width apart and your palms facing toward your body. 
  • Close-grip: in the close-grip variation your hands are inside your shoulders on the bar with your palms facing away from your body. 
  • Wide-grip: in this pull-up your hands outside of your shoulders with your palms facing away from your body. 
  • Alternated grip: to perform alternated grip pull-ups your hands are facing opposite directions—one palm faces your body and the other faces away. The width is typically standard or wide for this pull-up.

How do I integrate the pull-up with my workout?

Pull-up training involves mostly the muscles of the back and arms. If you do a traditional “back and bis, chest and tris” split, your pull-ups will become part of your back exercises. Because pull-ups are rather difficult, they should come fairly early in your workout so that your muscles are fresh and ready to exert maximal effort.

If you are working on building strength, a week of programming might look like this (all 3 sets of 6–8 unless otherwise specified):

  • Day 1
    • Warm-up
    • Back squats
    • Bench press
    • Pull ups
    • Overhead press
    • Sit ups 
  • Day 2
    • Warm-up
    • Deadlifts
    • Bent-over row
    • Reverse lunges
    • Planks (3 x 30 seconds)
  • Day 3
    • Warm-up
    • Front squats
    • Pull ups
    • Lat pull down
    • Push ups
    • Russian twists
  • Day 4
    • Warm-up
    • Romanian dead lifts
    • Push press/Overhead press
    • Seated row
    • Farmer’s carry


If you are training for cardio/endurance, your program might look like this: 


  • Day 1
    • Light cardio warm-up
    • Circuit 1 (3 rounds of 30 seconds on/15 seconds off)
      • Bodyweight or moderate weight goblet squats
      • Push ups
      • Pull ups
      • Sit ups
    • Circuit 2 (3 rounds of 30 seconds on/15 seconds off)
      • Jumping jacks
      • Thrusters with light weight
      • Side plank right and left
  • Day 2
    • Light cardio warm-up
    • Circuit 1 (3 rounds of 30 seconds on/15 seconds off)
      • Reverse lunges
      • Lawnmower rows
      • Pull ups
      • Plank with shoulder taps
    • Circuit 2 (3 rounds of 30 seconds on/15 seconds off)
      • Lateral lunge
      • Jump squats
      • Floor press
      • Bicycle crunches
  • Day 3
    • Circuit 1 (3 rounds of 30 seconds on/15 seconds off)
      • Box jumps
      • Pull ups
      • Push ups
      • V-ups
    • Circuit 2 (3 rounds of 30 seconds on/15 seconds off)
      • Skater jumps/lateral hops
      • Renegade rows
      • Skull crushers
      • Hollow body hold
penny goldberg dpt
Penny Goldberg, DPT, ATC
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Penny Goldberg, DPT, ATC earned her doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Saint Augustine and completed a credentialed sports residency at the University of Florida. She is a Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Sports Physical Therapy.

Penny holds a B.S. in Kinesiology and a M.A. in Physical Education from San Diego State University. She has served as an Athletic Trainer at USD, CSUN, and Butler University.

She has presented on Kinesiophobia and differential diagnosis in complicated cases. Penny has published on returning to sports after ACL reconstruction and fear of movement and re-injury.

Outside of the clinic, Penny enjoys traveling, good cooking with great wine, concerts, working out and playing with her dogs.