Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Exercise: Band Pulldowns

One exercise I like a lot is the band pulldown. I like pullups and cable pulldowns, but both require some kind of equipment. If you've got something you can hang a band from, but not a person, and you've got yourself a band, you've got enough gear to do a band pulldown.

Why do I want to do this? Vertical pulls are an important element of training. They provide good balance (along with horizontal pulls, such as rows) for the usually push-heavy workouts of most gym goers. If you can't do pullups or can't do enough for the reps you want, this is a good accessory exercise.

How do I do them? They are technically pretty simple. Loop a band overhead, sit, kneel, or stand underneath. Grip the band (I like to grip both loops, making it also a grip exercise) and pull them down, drive the elbows down and back. Get the bands to your shoulders for a full range of motion pulldown. Don't rock forward or back, a slight back lean is all you really want. Lean too far forward and it becomes an abdominal exercise; too far back and it's a row. You can do them with two arms, or pull with one arm at a time.

Here is a good video of a band pulldown with two bands.

Here is one with one band:

I like these because they combine the increasing resistance of a band-assisted pullup (it gets harder the more you pull) with the ability to more finely-tune the weight. They make a great high-rep assistance exercise for pullups and other vertical pulling.

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