There a bunch of great reasons to be doing banded training. They’re a break from normal exercise, can help correct muscle imbalances and mobility issues, and you can take them anywhere. Some people try band training and they feel like it’s too easy but that is because band training is different from weight training. It isn’t about how heavy you can go. I’ll explain how in the rest of the article.
No matter what type of lifting you’re into, whether you compete professionally or just want to stay healthy, band training can be a good addition to your current workout regimen.
Exercise Band Training Tips and Tricks 101
So without further ado... Here are 11 excellent exercise band training tips and tricks:
Also called proprioception, body awareness is something that you develop as you progress in your lifting career. Proprioception is the ability for an individual to sense where their body is in space and in relation to their individual body parts. When doing banded training it is something that we are trying to develop.
For example, let’s say that your squat gives you low back pain and you’ve identified that your right knee caves in during the concentric (standing up) portion of the squat. FYI, low back pain often comes from weak or dysfunctional glutes.
You being the intelligent lifter that you are decide not to quit squatting. Instead, you get your hands on some mobility bands and fix this issue once and for all.
You start by putting your right leg through the mobility band and you attach the other end to a post on your left a foot or so away. You drop down into a lunge position and start moving your right knee back and forth against the resistance.
What you are trying to do here is to really get in touch with your right glute. Feel it contract, feel it relax, and make sure that it fires when you are in the squat position to maintain proper hip alignment. That’s proprioception AKA body awareness.
Do it anywhere
One of the great things about mobility work and exercise band training is that it doesn’t necessarily need to be done around your workout. Something that I like to do whenever I’m at my desk is take a break and do band pull aparts. This exercise is performed by standing up, taking one end of the band in each hand, and pulling it apart and back until your arms are straight out to the side. You should look like a T or cross at the end position. The idea is to activate your posterior deltoids (back of the shoulder) and upper back muscles.
If you hunch over or have otherwise developed bad postural habits then band pull aparts are a must do exercise. Unfortunately, I sit a lot - work has to be done - which is exactly why I do these throughout the day.
Bands are actually an excellent way to warm up. They’re low impact, low intensity, and super versatile.
Let’s use a deadlift day as an. If you are going to be deadlifting in your workout then you’ll want to warm up your glutes. A quick and easy way to do this is to step inside a mobility band, bring it up to about knee height and go for a little walk. This is called the monster walk or the lateral band walk and you can do it standing, in a half squat, or in a full squat but the idea is to spread your legs apart against the resistance of the band. This should get your glutes to fire.
Control your joints
Avoid overextending your joints when doing band training. Basically, keep the tension on your muscles, not your connective tissue. And try not to lock out. The reasoning behind this is because, with bands, the top of the movement is the hardest on the strength curve. If your joint isn’t secure it can snap back and put you in a position that you don’t want to be in.
Which brings me to the next tip...
Control the band
This is similar to the previous tip but it’s slightly different as a technique cue. If I’m teaching someone how to do a band pull apart and I see them trying to lock out their elbows at the end of the movement I’ll tell them to keep control of their elbow instead of locking it out. But if I see them swinging the band around wildly I’ll tell them to get control of the band not let it slap them around. They are the same concept but with different applications for different situations.
In general you should perform all exercises in a slow and controlled manner. Control the band rather than allowing it to control you.
Breathing is one of the those super simple things that can have a tremendous impact on your training if done correctly but is ignored by most. Band training is a great time to focus on your breathing because the exercise itself isn’t that hard. Try to breathe evenly while performing your exercises. Inhale before starting the repetition and exhale during the more difficult concentric phase of the repetition. You should only be holding your breath briefly during the eccentric phase of the repetition, and really that should only be on very intense lifts, but banded training is a good time to practice how you’re going to breathe.
You think water and food are important? You can go for days without water and weeks without food. But how long can you go without oxygen?
Bad form? No resistance
Perform the exercises without the band until you are comfortable, then add the Resistance Band. An exception to this is if you can’t perform an exercise properly because the right muscles aren’t firing. Use your own discretion here, just don’t get carried away adding resistance when your form isn’t dialed in.
All about activation
Activation doesn’t need to be done only before you start your workout. Some days you might be going through a push workout and you’re having trouble finding your pectorals. What you should do is stop for a minute and do 20 reps of chest flys with a band. You’re not trying to burn out your chest, you’re just trying to find the innervation of that muscle so that it can fire properly when you’re benching. This is also known as flossing the nerve.
Never, in the entire history of band training, has anyone ever “maxed-out” with bands. At least not anyone with a half decent brain. If you’re going as heavy as possible with bands, you’re missing the point. The band should be only tight enough to get the muscle to fire properly. That’s the goal with band training. Use a band that allows you to do sets of 10 to 15 repetitions with MILD fatigue on the last set.
Dominate each band
A band should feel featherweight by the time you move on to a thicker one. Progress to the next level band only when you are able to easily complete multiple sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
Remember when your mother told you to stand up straight? She wasn’t lying. Don’t slouch and don’t get sloppy when you’re training.
Actually, don’t slouch or be sloppy ever. Body alignment is important in all exercises but especially so with band training; due to the simple fact that we are literally trying to train body alignment. It’s okay to use body "English" and cheat a little on a lot of key lifts. Hell, sometimes it’s necessary. But with band training we are trying to account for and correct the harm that we’re doing elsewhere in the gym making it critical that we pay attention to our body as a holistic unit, train with proper form, and for Christ’s sake, stand up straight.
11 Excellent Exercise Band Training Tips and Tricks
I know, we almost just gave you TOO MUCH awesome information about band training. But you don’t have to do every little thing perfectly. What’s important is that it gets done. Over time you’ll learn what works for you. You’ll know how and why you do things exactly by the book or a little differently from everyone else. Reading is only as helpful as the application. Take whatever you can from this article and apply it to your training.