If you’ve been lifting for a while then you’ve noticed the jump in gains has drastically dropped. I’m not saying you aren’t seeing improvement in your lifts but the large increases in weight have become more minimal. Take comfort in knowing this happens to every, single trainee. The great news is that a plethora of coaches, trainers, and universities have studied multiple variables that can improve your numbers if you’ve reached a plateau. One of these methods is the use of resistance bands.
Want to improve bench press strength? Use bands. Squat strength? Use bands. Deadlift? You guessed it…more bands. Why are bands all the rage in training? The same reason any time-tested tool is used over new inventions; because it works. How does it work? It’s simpler than one might expect. Bands produce the greatest amount of force at the strongest part of the movement (most of the time…exercises like barbell curls would be an exception…but still effective).
Think for a minute, when are you strongest in a squat? When you’re at the top. Where are you weakest? When you’re at the bottom. However, the resistance hasn’t changed. You could probably stand with 50% more weight on the bar but if you were to attempt a squat you would crush under the weight. Bands provide a safer alternative.
Due to the stretch resistance of the bands your muscles are forced to contract harder at the top of the movement. As you descend the resistance from the bands weakens, allowing you to execute the bottom portion of the lift effectively and increase strength. As your rise, the resistance increases forcing the muscle at the strongest position to fight a little big harder.
A study published in 2012 in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that muscle recruitment for barbell squatting increased by 16% when 35 percent of the resistance came from bands. In another study published in the same journal in 2008 showed the strength increases on young athletes over 7 weeks using bands in their squat and those who didn’t. Those who didn’t saw an increase of 6% while those who used bands that accounted for 20% of the resistance in their lifts saw an increase of 16% (that’s TRIPLE the improvement of the non-band group).
How to get started? First, start with the basic lifts such as bench press, squat, and deadlift. The “Big 3” will benefit the most from band-resisted training. Decrease whatever wait you’ve previously used by 20% to 30% and add bands. What type of bands? I recommend Rubber Banditz. They’ll have a selection of bands with varying resistance (always get 2 of the same band!).
As with any new training method, drop the ego! Start slow and you’ll 1) be safer and 2) make more gains.
STAY FIT MY FRIENDS!