A good pair of strength bands can be a very useful and portable tool for anyone in the gym. If your gym doesn’t have these readily available, I would suggest purchasing a set and carrying them with you to the weight room. The most common uses for strength bands in the fitness world are for speed work by applying them to a barbell (variable or accommodative resistance methods) and mobility drills (joint traction and distraction). There are plenty of other ways to utilize a set of strength bands. Below are just a few of the ways in which I commonly use bands in my own training or with clients that I work with.
Band Over-and-back Chest Stretch
Using a band instead of PVC pipe for this warm-up allows some “give” for those that need it. You can also pull against the band better than you can against a PVC pipe. I will utilize this as a warm-up or occasionally in between sets of heavy pressing.
Band Single Arm Chest Press
This drill is great for teaching tightness in a bench press. The band, when tucked under the arm, provides a good feel of how your shoulder position should be during a bench press. Use this as an instructional drill and as a warm-up for pressing.
Band Chest Press and Band Pushup
This drill works well as another bench press warm-up and for some a good strength exercise. For a more advanced version, try bringing down into a pushup.
Band Overhead Triceps Extension
This works well for those with cranky elbows and tight chest and shoulders. Also another good heavy pressing warm-up.
Band Triceps Pressdown
A great way to burn out your triceps with burning out your elbows. Those with elbow pain will appreciate band work as it can be easier on the joints.
Band Pull Apart
This is one of my favorite drills. I’ll use it to warm-up before heavy presses and in between heavy presses. It is a great exercise to work the rear shoulders and mid to upper back.
Band 45-degree Hip Extension
This is great variation to the 45-degree hip extension or low back extension. With the constant and increased tension at the top of the movement with the bands, you can focus on feeling the hips drive the movement. I try to mimic a deadlift lockout at the top of this exercise, locking out the hips and avoiding too much extension or “hyperextension” of the hips and low back.
This has to be one of my current favorites for teaching someone how to deadlift. The bands are unloaded in the bottom making it safe to perform for virtually anybody. The increase in band resistance at the top can help an athlete “feel-out” the muscles that drive the movement. This way, when the athlete transitions to barbell deadlifts, they can have a focus of what muscles to fire to drive the movement from.
I also like the bands for warming up my deadlift and to work on a light speed set in between heavy sets.
Band Ab Pull-ins
One of my favorite ab training exercises. I like that this variation is done standing; just as in the squat and deadlift. Note here that the goal is flex the abs and not the hip flexors. This will create a rounding in the back, the hips should stay fairly still. I will work this with my breathing; exhale and tighten up as much as I can at the bottom of the movement.
Band Assisted Pullups
This method is quite common and it is likely that you have seen this before. I prefer this method for people over using the assisted pull-up machines with the counter balance weight. The bands provide the feet to move more freely than the machines and the assistance decreases towards the top of the movement requiring more strength to finish the movement.
-Dan and Tasha
As seen on The Alpha Project