PULLUPS ARE HANDS down one of the best exercises for developing your back and increasing your overall fitness level. They’re old-school, basic, and a natural movement pattern of human beings. Instead of hitting the gym week after week trying to see “how much you bench,” why not try and see how many pullups you can crank out?

We asked former Mr. New Jersey and Natural Mr. America Mike Duffy, C.P.T., for his top tips to consistently get more pullups.

1. Do negatives

Negative training is the focus on lowering portion of the movement versus the actual lift. Focusing on negatives will target and develop muscle fibers differently, resulting in a boost in endurance. “Grab hold of the chinup bar and jump up so that your chest is close to the bar,” Duffy says. “Then, lower yourself for 4-6 seconds and repeat.” Perform a few sets of negatives each week on back day and you’ll begin to notice improvements in your overall ability to get more reps.

2. Use assistance bands

Pullups aren’t neccessarily easy; some novice gym-goers have trouble even getting one or two. Duffy recommends grabbing assistance bands, which you wrap around the bar and place under your feet. “These elastic bands will counterbalance your bodyweight and help assist you with getting more pullups,” says Duffy. Even advanced athletes can benefit from assistance bands—they might help get you one, two, or three more reps than you normally would without assistance. Novice trainees can train with assistance bands each week, and more advanced athletes could sprinkle the use of the bands every other week.

3. Perform forced reps

Similar to using assistance bands, forced reps are about using a training partner to help you get a few more additional reps that you couldn’t get on your own. Have a training partner give you a boost to crank out 2-3 more reps. Watch how your strength and endurance soar week over week.

4. Do heavy biceps curls

Your biceps are the secondary muscle groups to the back when performing pullups. Duffy recommends mixing in heavy biceps curls every other week or so. Shoot for 4-6 reps, whereas the other weeks, shoot for 8-12 reps.