Okay, let’s be honest: Pull-ups are hard. But if you struggle with the classic exercise, you’re not alone: Even Shay Mitchell, who’s crazy-strong and constantly doing impressively difficult exercises, needs some assistance every now and then. Not from her gym buddy, though—from a resistance band.
Because resistance bands are great for everything—whether that’s amping up your glute bridges or taking leg lifts up a notch—why not use them to give you a teeny boost while suffering through pull-ups, too? During a recent sweat sesh at the DogPound in New York City, the actress demonstrated (see below) her resistance-band-aided move on Instagram, which you can copy as you build enough strength to do them unassisted. (Warning: It’s still a tough exercise.)
The assisted pull-ups do exactly what regular pull-ups do: work your back, shoulders, arms, and core. Using a resistance band simply gives you a little backup.
According to Self, the assisted pull-ups do exactly what regular pull-ups do: work your back, shoulders, arms, and core. Basically, the tiny adjustment of using a resistance band simply gives you a little backup support, taking away some of your bodyweight to help you complete the move. Plus, it’s a good way to learn how to do pull-ups correctly so you can avoid hurting yourself sans band. “[Using a resistance band is also] going to put your body accurately in alignment with what your body would be in when you’re actually doing a pull-up,” personal trainer Amelia DiDomenico told Self.
Want to try it? DiDomenico said that for typical bars, all you need to do is put the band over the bar, then pull one end of the band through the other end so it stays in place. Mitchell’s band is super-long, but if you don’t have a similar one, don’t worry: Bend your legs and put your shins where her feet would be instead.
One last tip: Before starting, just make sure you’re not using a resistance band that’s hard to stretch, since it will make your pull-ups too easy.