Dyed-in-the-wool strongmen have been using them for decades. It is only recently that the rest of the fitness world has caught on to the benefits of training with bands. When training vertical movements like the squat or bench press, bands can help you produce a tremendous amount of power on non-banded benches.
Amping Up The Resistance
Training with bands on the bench overloads the movement throughout the entire range of motion. Your muscles work like rubber bands. Bands pull down as you lower the weight intensifying the eccentric. On the concentric, the bands pull tighter as you approach lockout, providing more and more resistance so you have to produce higher amounts of force for a longer time to complete the rep.
Most people are capable of doing much more on the partial bench press than they can on bench press with a full range of motion. Bands allow the top portion to overloaded, similar to a partial, where lifters are the strongest.
Sticking points result where you produce less force, so you need to push the barbell with as much force as possible to avoid sticking points. Bands amplify this effect. You have no choice but to hit the gas. If you lay on the cruise control, the lift will fail (and your sternum will end up totaled).
Bands require you to produce more force for longer, a positive for gaining size or strength. Plus, they program you to bench with greater explosive power instinctually.
A 2008 study examined the differences between barbell-only and band-combined resistance. The study consisted of 44 strength-trained men ranging from 19 to 21 years of age. The group tested maxes before and after seven weeks of training. One group performed bench presses with barbell (and weights) only, the other group combined barbell and weights with additional elastic bands. The band group doubled gains in the bench press. To pick up a set of bands that you can work into your next bench day, visit www.elitefts.com.
Josh Bryant, MFS, CSCS, PES, is the owner of JoshStrength.com and co-author (with Adam benShea) of the Amazon No. 1 seller Jailhouse Strong. He is a strength coach at Metroflex Gym in Arlington, Texas, and holds 12 world records in powerlifting. You can connect with him on Twitter and Facebook or visit his website at www.joshstrength.com.
Don’t let the bands beat you. Power up with these supplements to overcome gravity plus elastic resistance.
Whey protein 20 grams 30-60 minutes pre-workout; 40-60 grams immediately post-workout
Caffeine 200-400 mg 1-2 hours before workouts
Creatine 3-5 grams with pre- and post-workout shakes; on rest days take 3-5 grams with breakfast
Beta-alanine 1-1.5 grams with pre- and post-workout shakes; on rest days take 1-1.5 grams with breakfast
Ribose 5-10 grams with pre- and post-workout shakes; on rest days take 5-10 grams with breakfast
Taurine 1-3 grams with pre- and post-workout shakes
Tribulus terrestris 250-750 mg with breakfast and one hour before workouts; do not take it on rest days
Fish oil 4-6 grams in 2-3 divided doses with meals