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Band Work

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  • Band Work

    Band Work

    I am often hesitant to write about band work because I know the bands will be overused and thus abused. Do they work? Absolutely! Are they potentially hard on the joints and connective tissue? Absolutely! But…..they are fun and easy to use, and change the resistance curves dramatically and can help add muscle to your frame and pounds on the bar.

    For those that have no idea what I am talking about, the bands most commonly used are made by Jump-Stretch:

    And are also sold by Dave Tate of WSB fame:

    They are 41 inches long and are produced in various strengths. They can be used to add tension to the bar when doing a large variety of movements, and on their own as the only resistance. What is the point in this? And are they a gimmick?

    When you do a bench press as an example, you are typically weakest at the lowest part of the movement and strongest at the top portion of the lift. When the weight stays the same as in when using a barbell/dumbbells the resistance is constant throughout the whole range of motion. Now, put a set of bands on the bar and BAM! The resistance curve changes dramatically. Now as you get nearer to lock-out you add tension to the bar which matches your strength curve much better. This is called accommodating resistance and it works WONDERS. You can use the bands for about any barbell lift you wish to try as long as you are creative enough to figure out the band attachment. And yes, the bands must be attached to a stationary object in order for them to work.

    Why am I hesitant to write about them then? They are most often overused, especially by trainees that first get them. They can be EXTREMELY HARD on the joints and cause a lot of DOMS if you fight the negative portion of the lift. Unlike a bar being pulled to the ground at the constant speed of gravity, a bar with a lot of band pressure is trying to get to the floor MUCH faster. Your stabilizers are pushed to the extreme and it is common for extreme soreness and joint pain to occur with the bands.

    What can they be used for? I use them for:

    DE squats and bench presses. ME squats, benches, close grips, board presses, good mornings, deadlifts, military presses, tricep extensions, to name a few using a bar.

    Using the bands alone I use them for face pulls, lateral raises, Pull-throughs, tricep pushdowns, chin-up assistance for beyond failure sets, band rows, band curls, band good-mornings, pull-down abs, and quite a few more.

    And no they are not a gimmick and are used by many of the worlds strongest athletes. They are a WSB staple, because they deliver the results.

    Another reason I am often hesitant to write about them is the fact I am then BOMBARDED with people asking me which band they should be using for exercise XXXXX which is about like asking me what weight they should use for exercise XXXXX. The simple answer is I cannot tell you, but will say that for most low-intermediate level trainees a set on mini’s and a set of light bands will go a long way and by using some combination of them will cover most of your needs. A complete set costs only a 150 bucks at Dave’s site and will open up a whole new world of lifts for you.

    Now the caution. Using them for any one lift for more than about 4 weeks is usually asking for trouble if you have joints and connective tissues of most mortals. And you will also get into trouble using them for a large percentage of your overall lifts. Using them by cycling them in and out of the routine, and spreading the load over the body, and in NOT doing a bunch of lifts for upper body pressing at the time is what is needed to keep you healthy an uninjured. Used intelligently they are a great tool. Used unwisely and you will be regretting you ever heard of them. They can add a lot of muscle to your frame or pounds to your total though when used correctly.

    Here are a few examples:

    Band Tricep Extensions:


    Band Side laterals:

    Band Box Squat

    Iron Addict