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Cross-Band Pullups

The wide-grip pullup is a classic back exercise—it’s one of the key moves for increasing back width.

This variation, done with two training bands, will work the extreme lateral fibers of your lats even harder than the normal version. And it will do it by placing direct horizontal isometric band tension on the lats as you’re doing the pullup.

You’ll need a couple of training bands. I recommend light-to-medium-thickness bands for this exercise. I also recommend doing these on the chinup bar found on most power racks—or on a Smith machine with the bar set to the highest position. The reason: You’ll need something on the sides of the bar to hitch the bands onto to make this exercise work.

So first, hitch the bands to the top side crossbeam of the rack, right beside the chinup bar (mine are in front of the bar).

Important: Put your right wrist through the left band; then put your left wrist through the loop of the right band.  The bands must be looped around the opposing hands to get the key cross-tension.

Now reach out wide to the sides on the bar, stretching both bands so they cross in front of you. Your grip should be wide enough that the bands get some decent stretch. You’re going to keep this grip through the entire set.

In this exercise, you don’t actively pull against the bands—they simply supply constant, meaning isometric, lateral tension against the wrists as you do the exercise. That strongly activates the extreme lateral fibers of the lats, which are responsible for lat width.

So if lat width is something you want more of, this exercise will do it for you.

It also gives you near-continuous tension on the lats, even at the bottom of the movement, where they normally get a bit of a break. You’ll get no break here.

Now, once you’ve got your grip on the bar, take your feet off the ground or bench—if you’re standing on one to get into position. You will be feeling the tension on your lats even before you start. Perform the pullup movement from there.

When you start the pull, you’ll really feel it in the outer lat fibers. Come all the way up as high as you can, and go for as many reps as you can get with good form.

Good trick: If you’d like to extend the set, you can set the safety rails in the rack to a couple of feet off the ground and set your feet on those rails. That takes away some of your bodyweight, allowing you to adjust resistance using assistance from your legs so you can perform a drop set, adding more reps.

After the very first set of this exercise, your lats will be on fire and pumped up like crazy. Rest one to two minutes, and do it again—three or four sets total.

—Nick Nilsson


Editor’s note: To get a copy of Nick’s Muscle Explosion—28 Days to Maximum Mass, visit his Web site, www.28DayMuscleExplosion


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