Monday, February 24, 2014

Benefits of Resistance Bands - The Other 7 Ways to Use Them

Resistance bands are probably best known for providing assistance to the pull up movement and although they do a stellar job at that exercise, we've got 7 other ways you can put these fantastic training tools to use.

1)  Your New Travel Buddy

When it comes time to pack the bags for that business trip or vacation take a few resistance bands along for the ride.  They are lightweight, portable and you can even use them in your room if the hotel weight room is too small or non-existant.

2)  Paired With Gymnastic Rings

Movements like the Ring Dip and Ring Muscle Up are difficult movements and those struggling with conquering these feats will find that the resistance band can provide the right amount of assistance for these exercises.  If you've ever tried to use a resistance band with a set of gymnastics rings it can be a head scratcher.  Instead of using the band on the rings or looped through, instead try it this way: Set a squat rack up right under the gymnastics rings and instead of putting a bar on the rack, stretch a heavy resistance band across the J-Cups.  Either step into or kneel into the band to provide just the right amount of help.  Adjust the height of the band to increase or decrease the amount of assistance given.

3) Re-Invent the Push Up

The push up has got to be one of the all time greatest exercises.  It can be done virtually anywhere.  Increasing and decreasing the level of difficulty of the push up has normally been done by either raising the level of the upper body relative to the feet or by raising the level of the feet relative to the upper body.  Many have put feet up on chairs to increase difficulty or have kept their feet on the ground and set their hands on the chair to make the exercise easier.  Resistance bands can add a new twist.  Double up the band and put your hands in both ends while running the band behind your back. Get in the plank position and go.  To make the pushup easier, attach one end with a larks head knot to an overhead pull-up bar.  Put both arms through the band as you lower into the plank position.  With the band resting across your chest, it will now provide assistance to the movement.

4)  Add Weight to the Pull Up or Dip

Adding weight to the pull-up and the dip is a great way to train for higher rep workouts.  A heavy resistance band makes a quick dip belt in a pinch.  Run the band through a kettlebell then bring the two ends of the band together.  Keeping the kettlebell on the ground just in front of you, step through the resistance band and bring it up to waist level.  The rubber in the resistance band will grab onto your waist to keep the kettlebell from falling to the floor.

5)  Thrusters Anyone?

One of the most effective whole body exercises is the thruster.  While standing from the front rack position [hands at the shoulders, palms facing up, elbows high] step into a resistance band.  Either step in with both feet and grab the band with both hands shoulder width apart or use one band per arm.  Move from a deep squat to a fully extended shoulder press, moving the hands only after the movement upward has begun.

6)  Resisted Runs

We hesitate to tell you about this one because it is probably one of the most horrible exercises known to mankind.  Loop two heavy resistance bands together [we recommend the green ones]  With one resistance band around your waist and the other held by a similar size/weight partner holding it from behind, runs take on a whole new meaning.  The resisted run ranks right up there with heavy sled pushes.  Don't say we didn't warn you :)

7)  Progressive Resistance To Barbell Movements

The squat, deadlift and the shoulder press are foundational movements that never lose their usefulness to strength training.  Adding resistance bands to these movements provides a much different feel.  When moving a barbell, the weight normally remains constant from the bottom of the movement to the top and back down.  As you move throughout the range of motion with the resistance band, the resistance increases.  One simple way to incorporate the resistance band into the deadlift movement is to load the barbell as normal [we got a great tip here for loading the bar on heavy deadlift day] then loop one end of the band over each of the bar sleeves.  Rotate the bar so that the band is resting on the floor.  Step onto the band while performing the deadlift.  Piece of cake. Well, not really :)

So there's a little inspiration to get you reaching for your resistance bands.  Have another use that you incorporate into your routine?  We'd love to hear it.  And hate mail for the resisted run idea.