You’ve all heard of resistance bands (or power bands) and have most likely used them or seen them used at some point. But how do you use them to increase your size and strength?
Resistance bands are essentially industrial strength rubber bands. But not the kind you’d flick your mate with – they are a fantastic tool for gaining strength and breaking plateaus by adding additional resistance to your lifts, but also increasing muscle size. How do they do this? By creating more tension within the working muscle and also increasing the resistance applied to the muscle as the band lengthens, the more you stretch it the tougher the movement gets.
Let’s go over the basics behind using resistance bands for strength. Power lifters are well aware of the effects and benefits of partial reps (put simply, partial reps are those done in a specific, limited range of motion – eg a partial bench press could involve doing only the top 15cm of the range of motion) to overload specific areas of the strength curve. This requires them to perform only part of the movement with extra load to gain strength at that stage.
Attaching a resistance band to each side of your barbell can assist in this area as it creates more resistance throughout the movement, allowing the benefits of the partial rep, while the exercise is performed with full range of motion.
They can also work in the reverse if set up from above the exercise by aiding the lifter to move the initial weight, with the aid of the band, which will lessen off as the lifter progresses through the movement. The beauty is, with a little creativity, this style of training can be applied to any of the major lifts – Squats, Deadlifts, Bench and Military press.
So how do they help you increase your size?
Resistance bands can create extra stimulus through increasing an unrelenting tension on the working muscle. This essentially means that your muscles won’t get a chance to rest and recover during the movement as the band will continually be working against it. This will also force your body to perform isometric contractions, which again will increase the amount of tension within the muscle. When training for hypertrophy (muscle gain) you want to increase the muscles time under tension in order to force the body to adapt to become bigger and stronger. As with power lifting movements, with a little creativity the band can be applied to just about any exercise to make them a little more intense.
In short whether the ultimate goal is to become stronger, faster or bigger, try utilising these under estimated little beauties and reap the rewards.
Check out the full range of resistance bands in our online store: www.littleblokefitness.com.au/products-page/fitness-accessories/power-bands/
This article was written by Ryan Pagel, a fully qualified personal trainer and owner and founder of Fiction Physiques – a business catered to providing personalised programs for performance and body composition goals.