How to use these training tools to increase power

Strength Sensei CP


Training with bands is an effective method for improving maximal strength and power, particularly for the extensor chains. Therefore, presses, deadlifts, and squat variations benefit greatly from band training.

I find bands to be an excellent tool for training both maximal and explosive strength in sports where the application of force must be maximal. One of the most important benefits that training with bands offers is that it teaches the athlete the concept of acceleration.  If they do not learn to accelerate from the beginning of the concentric contraction, the weight will pin them.

Here are nine special considerations to know about band training:

  1. Use only one workout out of two. More often than that tends to cause tendinitis.
  2. Concentrate on acceleration.
  3. Make sure the bands are anchored properly. Many power racks provide attachments that will suit your biomechanics in a matter of seconds.
  4. Make sure you have a spotter. Getting pinned with bands can make your life miserable.
  5. Eight to 10 sets of 1-3 reps work best. I consider band training more suited for neural drive training. For example, if you are incline pressing with bands, pair with wide grip pulls for 8-10 sets of 1-3 reps. Resting 2 minutes between pressing and pull-ups, and 2 minutes between pull-ups and return to presses.
  6. Bands are well suited for the pressing, squatting exercises for the neural drive of the Modified Hepburn method, as seen on this site.
  7. In essence, band training is another form of variation of tempo training which accelerates your gains:
  8. Band training is for the extensor chains as they have ascending strength curves in the concentric ranges, meaning that you get stronger as you shorten the muscle. Therefore, they help match the resistance curve to your natural strength curves.
  9. Band training for the flexor chains (i.e., curls) should be of high resistance, so much that they only allow you to overload the early start of the concentric range. They are a great addition for the development of functional hypertrophy. For example, with chin-ups, you can do 6 reps to failure, then immediately attach the band to your chinning/climbing belt and do 4-6 short-range partial in the stretched position, holding the top position for 4-second holds.

A better alternative to bands are bungee bands, which I used successfully with Olympic Gold Medalist Adam Nelson. Bungees offer the following advantages:

  1. It is easy to adjust in terms of tension provided,
  2. It is easy to adjust in terms of the mechanical advantage of the trainee. In other words, you can adjust for arm length between different trainees in seconds.
  3. You can play more with what sort of resistance curve you want to encounter. For example, if you wish to only load the top quarter, you can.
  4. The bungees glide at the bottom to follow a more natural force expression pattern.

Bands and bungees are too valuable a training tool not to have in your exercise toolbox if one of your goals becomes a more powerful athlete.

— Photo by Miloš Šarčev

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