Thumbnail - Ressistance Bands

I’ve trained with Resistance Bands now since 2001 and in doing so have personally witnessed the benefits first hand to the point I rate them as a necessity as an aid to strength training & injury rehabilitation.

In a space of 10 months I took my bench from 202.5Kg to 230Kg and I contributed a large portion of this improvement to the Jump stretch bands.

My first introduction to Resistance Bands was in an article by Louie Simmons in powerlifting USA. Not only were the numbers his lifters achieving impressive, but it was the first time I actually started thinking how the mechanics of each of the powerlifts; Squat, Bench & Deadlift worked & what muscle groups where engaged at each stage of the lift. 

Up until that point I had followed the same old split routines that everyone around me used. Predominately out of the pages of Mr. Weiders “Muscle & Fiction”, publication. With Mr. Weiders inspiration I’d hit the gym and train like a lunatic. At that point I’d never considered over training was possible, never had a training template, all my training was done on instinct, and hey,  there was always one of those world famous “ weirder principles” to say you were doing the right thing.

Inside that issue of Powerlifting USA was an advertisement for Jump Stretch Bands. I promptly phoned the USA at 10pm Perth time that night & two weeks later I had them.

A full set of bands in those days consisted of a pair, each of: Mini, Light, Average and Strong. That set even today, some Nine years later, is still my recommendation to any one that has had a few years of lifting behind them and is looking to take their lifting to the next level.

Strngth Development – How do the Bands work?

Trying to keep it as simple as possible, band training helps with the development of strength in two areas the concentric and eccentric phase of the movement.

Let’s take everyone’s favorite exercise the Bench.

When pressing the bar up this is the concentric phase, when bringing the bar down this is the eccentric.

 By introducing the bands and fixing them to both the floor and the bar we are able to increase the bars weight at lock-out. Depending on band tension you may have 5 kilos extra weight on the bar at chest level and by the time you lock out you may have increased that tension to represent an increase of 20 kilo’s extra on the bar. I.E Total bar weight at the chest is 105KG (100Kg weight & 5Kg band tension) at the lock out point 125Kg (100Kg weight & 25Kg band tension).

The gradual increase of tension (weight) on the bar forces the lifter to push consistently thru the entire lift. This is helpful in developing starting strength off the chest, helps strengthen the triceps and gets the lifter more accustomed to handling heavier loads.

The bands will also help the eccentric portion of the bench as the lifter must control the extra weight at the top before commencing the downward towards the chest. As the bar comes down it is unloading weight (tension), however the nature of the bands increase the bars velocity towards the chest, this helps build kinetic energy that can be used to get the bar back up.

Take a basketball for example if you drop it from shoulder height it bounces knee high. Now drop the basketball from the same height, only this time add a bit of momentum behind it. What you will find is the basketball now bounces higher – that’s kinetic energy at work. Simple said “Faster down – Faster up.”

Bands can also be attached from above the bench and to the bar (The most common set-up is inside a power rack).  Normally this is referred to as Reverse Band Benching and is designed to mimic the properties of a bench shirt that Powerlifters wear (that’s a whole different article in its self).

The purpose of the exercise here is that the bands will decrease the bar weight as it is lowered to your chest and as you push the weight up you are left with what weight is on the bar. I.E  150Kg at the start of the lift with arms fully extended (150Kg of weight no band tension) and as you lower the bar, band tension kicks in causing a de-loading effect to the point there maybe only be 120KG at chest level (still 150Kg on the bar but the band tension is holding up 30Kg).

What tension are the bands?

The tension of the bands are dependent on how you set them up, and as everyone’s set up is slightly different the tension will vary. 

To measure the tension the best way I’ve found is as follows:

Bench – Once you have your bands hooked up to an Olympic bar, build up the height using boards and a set of scales until you reach the chest height you’re at  before commencing the press portion of the bench. Lift the bar onto the scales, subtract your bar weight of 20Kg and there you have the band tension weight at the bottom of the lift. Keep building the height on the bench to your lockout point and repeat the previous steps and this will give you the weight of tension at the top of your lift. If you have a mechanics truck or car jack it is probably even easier.

With the reverse band set up, just keep adding weight until the bar hovers at chest height and you have the bands tension.

If you can understand the above, the same principals will apply to the other two powerlifts; Squat and Deadlift

What other uses can we find for bands?

The flexibility is such that you don’t need bands in conjunction with big apparatus’s to make them effective, nearly all band exercises can be done from home. This makes them a great tool if you are traveling or you struggle to find the time to get to a gym.

In addition bands have become very popular as a stretching aid to help flexibility & to warm up muscles before activity.

Most sports therapists and physicians are starting to reach for bands as it allows the patient to self medicate injury as they can pin point their area of stress or weakness and exert their own pain tolerance on, or into, the injured area for relief.

Are there any pitfalls?

I’ve been training consistently with bands now for eight years with no problems. A couple (one) of the training crew at the Muscle Pit here in Perth, found that the bands are hard on their joints in reference to benching. Maybe the tension has been too much, maybe they need more joint conditioning…  Maybe they just need to toughen up. The bands still play a part of their training program for stretching and other exercises – just not benching.

Where do you get them?

Like any product, once someone sees it as a good idea, it seams everyone’s on the band wagon. There will always be competition. Here at the Muscle Pit we distribute the Jump Stretch Bands around Australia but there are other brands out there as well with each manufacturer & distributor putting their own slant on why their bands are the best.  

Guess what folks? They all stretch and in my observation all do the job.

Here is couple of things with bands you may find interesting:

1. Some bands are layered in construction opposed to solid compound. Layered in my experience has proven to last longer as compound bands tend to tear once they have a nick in them. Layered bands you just peel off or cut the peel.

2. Some brands I’ve experienced feel flat or doughy in certain areas, so when they stretch you get uneven tension on the bar.

3. Some bands come out of South America others out of Asia – no “biggy” either way, that’s just where they come from.

So why did we decide to distribute the Jump Stretch Bands?

That’s easy, every article from the strength world I’ve read including writings of Westside’s Louie Simmons, Sebastian Burns at Metal Militia, Dave Tate’s, Elite Fitness Team and a host of others all use Jump Stretch Bands.

So when they explain how to perform an exercise with the bands, at the very worst I have the starting point correct.

Dr Shimmell a leader in both rehab and prehab is using Jump Stretch Bands to service his clients. So when he sets up a patients exercise using a combination of bands in a certain way, I’m mirroring exactly what he’s doing – once again I am limiting the margin for era.

Also importantly when I’m corresponding with these guys I want to be on the same page.

And, Yes! Over the last eight years they have proven to be a durable product.

Summary

There is a plethora of information out there on Bands. The internet has been a great tool when it comes to the sharing of knowledge. My own YouTube Channel, MusclePitWA has an abundance of band uses covering all the areas we discussed in this article, plus a heap of exercise combos with kettlebells, specialty bars, chains and dumbbells for the more advanced lifters.

My experience has been nothing but positive, apart from getting kicked out of one gym for using them, as they deemed them as dangerous – It amazes me, that it doesn’t amaze me, how short sighted some of these pencil necked gym owners and managers are. (There’s also another story in that statement for later). Anyway I told them they could jam it and the Muscle Pit was conceived.., and that’s proving a positive.

Cheers….