If you’re building your workout program around resistance training, chances are at some point you’ll want to use bands instead of weights. Bands allow for more speed and range of motion depending on how you attach them, but they can also provide the same level of resistance that weights give you if used correctly.
To get started using bands like this, take a look at these three different exercises (plus one bonus) which show you how to do it right!
Want to Get Stronger with Resistance Bands instead of Weights or Dumbbells
The advantage of using weight plates is that they provide an even amount of resistance throughout the entire range of motion. This lets you measure exactly how much weight you’re lifting in relation to your 1-repetition max (1RM).
Resistance Bands, on the other hand, provide varying degrees of resistance throughout a lift. They’re most challenging at the beginning and end of an exercise’s range of motion. This can make it tough to measure your exact strength levels with band-resisted movements.
Because of this lack of standardization in comparison to free weights (like barbells and dumbbells), you may not be able to determine how much weight you’re lifting throughout an exercise like you would with most free weight/barbell exercises or machine exercise.
The advantage here is that bands allow for more speed and range of motion. With most weights, there’s a point where gravity is winning and you can’t lift any more the top or bottom position of an exercise. But because bands provide more resistance at the top and bottom of an exercise, you can continue to push or pull against them for everything in between.
This means that you’ll get more muscle fibers firing throughout the entire movement than if you were lifting weights, which will likely lead to greater strength increases when moving back to weight plates alone.
Want to Improve Your Range of Motion with Resistance Bands instead of Weights or Dumbbells
Another advantage using bands has over free weights is that they provide accommodating resistance. What this means is that as your muscles lengthen (during a lowering portion), band tension lessens, which lets your muscles relax slightly so you can move through a deeper range of motion without having to worry about getting stuck at the bottom position or losing control in the top position of an exercise.
This is because bands provide the most resistance when you’re trying to pull against them (or push them away). They automatically take on less tension as your muscles lengthen and let you move through a more natural range of motion without having to worry about having enough strength or control at various positions in an exercise.
But note: If you want to use bands for this purpose, it’s important that you don’t attach them so tightly around a weight stack or anchor point so there is no slack and the band isn’t providing any assistance whatsoever. Instead, leave just enough slack so that there is some light resistance throughout the entire ROM.
Want to Build Your Grip Strength with Resistance Bands instead of Weights or Dumbbells
If grip strength is your main goal, there are two reasons why using bands may be more beneficial for you than weights:
- Most cable machines have a range of motion that is usually at least 15 inches long. Many times it’s even longer if the manufacturer made the cable with extended handles or attachments that you can add to your grip. But there are a few things in life more challenging…
- This means that most free weight exercises where you’re trying to hold onto an object (like dumbbells) are also limited by this same 15-inch range of motion if they don’t have any attachments. And when you get into heavyweights, holding onto the weight plate itself is often too difficult for some people to do correctly and safely.
Bands, on the other hand, are often between 6-10 inches long. This short-range of motion allows you to fully get your hands around them so that it requires less grip strength than weights do.
Also, because you can attach bands to different objects (like plates or anchors), there’s no limit to how far apart you can place them for a greater challenge. For example, if you wanted to provide more resistance in the top position of an exercise like shoulder presses in which you lift the bands up together in front of your face, you can anchor them down to two separate weight stacks instead of having them attached at one single point.
Perfect Your Form and Range of Motion with Resistance Bands instead of Weights or Dumbbells
If You Want More Resistance at Different Points Along with Your Range of Motion Speaking of accommodating resistance, bands often provide more tension at certain points along with an exercise’s range of motion than weights do. This is why using bands for exercises like rows, curls and presses may be beneficial to you:
For example, if you’re doing a bicep curl with free weights, the weight will remain the same throughout the entire ROM. But if you switch to a band where there is less slack around your wrist and/or anchor point, it will provide lighter resistance at the bottom position but more tension during the top half of your movement.
This means that as our muscles lengthen (during a lowering portion), band tension lessens which lets our muscles relax slightly so we can move through a deeper range of motion without having to worry about getting stuck at the bottom position or losing control in the top position of an exercise.
By doing this, you can use bands to overload your muscles through a greater range of motion without having to add additional total volume (sets x reps) during a workout. And since you’re already putting a lot more stress on your muscles throughout a full ROM, adding extra sets simply isn’t going to be that much more effective.
Want to Build Size and Strength with Resistance Bands instead of Weights or Dumbbells
If You Want to Build Size and Strength Together One other factor that makes band training beneficial for strength is that they often require less weight than free weights do in order to produce similar levels of force because most people are stronger when pulling against bands than pushing with them due to its elastic nature.
For example, if you just did an 8-rep max with 225 pounds on the bench press, switching to banded presses may only require you to use 170 pounds for the same number of reps… which is no small feat if you’ve ever unracked 185+ on a barbell.
Performing banded exercises also allows some people to maintain their strength from one workout to another so they can use more weight in their regular workouts without struggling through lighter sets first.
In addition, when performing squats and deadlifts using bands, it’s common to be able to move heavier weights than normal due the fact that elastic force increases slowly throughout the ROM allowing you to produce peak levels of tension earlier in a movement pattern. This has been shown in several studies but here’s one that was conducted on competitive powerlifters:
“The results showed that peak force (PF) and peak power (PP) were greater when applying the bungee cord resistance compared to free weight resistance. The PF and PP values of the conventional deadlift were 91% and 94%, respectively, for the squat they were 83% and 73%, and for good morning exercise they were 77% and 80%.
In conclusion, it seems that using a bungee cord attachment can contribute significantly to improve performance in specific exercises such as the conventional deadlift, squat, or good morning exercise.”Band Training May Be Better Suited For You If You’ve Ever Been Injured Like I mentioned earlier in this article, some people find band training to be beneficial due to the fact that it allows them to move through a full range of motion without heavy weights (which is something they may not be able to do with free weights).