Master A Pull-Up, Plus Four More Bodyweight Moves
Bodyweight training is a great way to build functional strength and a toned bod, but the moves can be tough. Beginner? Try these resistance band variations.
There are many perks to bodyweight training: You can do it almost anywhere with minimal equipment, it builds functional strength, it tones you up like no one’s business and, best of all, even if you can’t do one rep of a big move like a pull-up, simply training to master it will still give you all the perks listed above. Using a resistance band to support you while you perform the move is a great way to learn the proper form while you slowly build up strength.
Start with a thick, heavy resistance band. Find them at or . You can choose either a continuous rubber loop or one that’s just a section of latex, but make sure that the band is long – at least 1.5m – and offers high resistance, as in it should be difficult to stretch. When you can do ten reps, start using a lighter band. Repeat this pattern until you can perform the move with no band at all. For most of the moves you’ll need to loop the band around the bar to secure it.
This classic strengthens your back, arms and shoulders, but also your core and even your butt – you’ll be squeezing everything. Loop the band around a high bar and step into it with one or both feet. Jump up and grip the bar with an overhand grip (for a pull-up) or under-hand grip (for a chin-up). Pull your shoulder blades down away from your ears and hang with straight arms. Now pull the bar to your chest.
2. Triceps Dip
If you have access to parallel bars, this is ace for sculpting your triceps. Tie the band around the bars. Hold the bars with an overhand grip and hop up so your weight is supported on your hands. Pull your shoulders down away from your ears. Bend your knees and use the band to support them. Bend your arms and lower yourself until your upper arms are parallel to the ground, then return to start.
Watch one of our WH staffers perform the moves:
This is a total-body toner, working your arms, shoulders, thighs and abs – especially those lazy lower ones. Tie the band around the parallel bars and hop up as you would for a triceps dip, but this time use the band to support your feet or lower legs. Keeping your legs straight and pressed together, raise them up in front of you, aiming to get them parallel to the ground. Then hold. Try to stay put for 10 seconds.
4. Straight-bar Dip
A tougher variation of the triceps dip, this move works your triceps, shoulders and core and is a good progression to one of the queens of bodyweight moves: the muscle-up. Loop the band around a bar that’s between waist and chest height and step into it with one or both feet. Jump up so you’re supporting yourself on your hands, hingeing slightly at the waist and keeping your legs straight and core tight. Bend your arms and lower toward the bar, trying to keep your elbows as close to your body as possible, then push back to start.
5. Pistol Squat
It tones your legs and butt and helps improve flexibility. Because you’re working one leg at a time, you can be sure your stronger leg isn’t doing all the work. Loop the band around a high bar and hold it in your left hand. Hold your right arm straight out in front of you at shoulder height for balance. Now bend your right leg into a deep squat as your left leg extends straight out in front of you, parallel to the ground. Push back up to start, then repeat on the other side.