Background: The Science of Pulling When you do any type of pulling exercise (this includes all Rows Lat Pulls Etc..), there are two muscle groups which most likely will be involved: Back and Biceps. Most people unknowingly use their Biceps to help or dominate the load of the pull instead of their back muscles. This leaves the back muscles inactive and therefore not working. If your back muscles are not working - they will not change!
Simple Trick: Relax Your Hands! This tip sounds silly, right? Well, it really works! By relaxing your hands as you pull, you will relax the Biceps and then place all of the pulling responsibility on the Back muscles. My number one choice to help you keep your hands relaxed is to repurpose your ankle straps as wrist straps. By placing the ankle straps around your wrists your hands are literally taken out of the exercise, and they can remain totally relaxed. In the case that you have handles that are permanently attached to your bands, simply grip the bands just tight enough so that they don't fly out of your hands.
Check Out The Video Explanation:
If you want to learn one of the top secrets to muscle building with Resistance Bands - Start Here!
One of the greatest muscle building techniques to use with resistance bands is called 4 Minute Muscle. It was the brainchild of Dr, Jim Stoppani, and while he wrote this with free weights in mind, it works SOOOO much better with elastic resistance.
Resistance bands produce a different type of tension through your range of motion, than free weights. They produce Progressive Tension, so they actually create more resistance through the range of your repetitions. You will get more resistance at the end of every repetition, when the bands are stretched the most.
Even if you already know this information, it is important to review because it highlights the fact that training with Resistance Bands needs to be adjusted slightly to yield incredible results.
4 Minute Muscle - How To Do It
4 minute muscle is designed to push your muscles beyond their limits to place them under tremendous stress in a very short amount of time. Studies and experience prove that placing your muscles under new stresses will force them to change. How will they change? By getting bigger and stronger. The goal of 4 minute muscle is to do as many reps as you can in 4 minutes with a minimum of 40 reps.
Here's how you do it:
To get a quick dose of 4 minute muscle for Biceps Curls With Resistance Bands, click the image below and follow along with Bodylastics CEO Blake Kassel:
How does Dr. Jim Stoppani Feel about the
Resistance Bands vs. Free Weights debate?
Read below to learn his opinion on how they stack up:
Elastic resistance exercise, such as the use of elastic tubing equipment, has been used for almost a century (6). It originally was used as a fitness technique, but eventually progressed to be used as a rehabilitation device.
Today it is used commonly in both fitness and rehabilitation facilities around the world. Both elastic resistance and free-weight resistance (such as barbells and dumbbells) have several similar properties.
All four of these properties are critical for the benefits offered by effective resistance-training programs:
Despite the similarities between elastic resistance and free-weight resistance, people would assume, due to the lightweight and “flimsy appearance" of elastic resistance equipment such as elastic tubing, that free weights are clearly the better resistance equipment.
However, studies have shown that muscle activity and peak load during elastic-resistance exercise is similar to free-weight resistance exercise 3,7. This means that when comparing the same exercise performed with an elastic resistance device or with free weights, the amount of muscle fibers activated is similar and the amount of force provided by the muscle fibers is similar.
Studies on elastic resistance training have also shown that programs using elastic tubing, elastic bands and similar devices increase muscle strength and muscle size and decrease body fat in a similar manner to free-weight training programs (1),(2),(4),(7),(9).
In addition to the similarities that elastic resistance shares with free-weight resistance, there are several benefits that elastic resistance offers that free-weight resistance does not.
One of the most important benefits of elastic resistance is that, unlike free weights, it does not rely on gravity to provide resistance. This increases its potential for use in more functional movement patterns that mimic both everyday activities and sport-specific activities.
Since free weights rely on gravity to provide resistance, they can only provide resistance in a vertical plane —the direction of gravity. This means that if you do an exercise with a free weight in the horizontal plane, such as moving your left hand (while holding a dumbbell) from the left side of your body to the right side of your body, there is no resistance to that movement.
With elastic tubing, on the other hand, you can have resistance when doing exercises in a horizontal plane. This means you can perform exercises such as twisting your body from side to side, side kicks and punches, as well as movements that mimic a baseball swing or basketball pass with elastic resistance.
Performing exercises with resistance in a horizontal plane better prepares the individual for performing daily tasks—such as turning his body while carrying a heavy box—much easier and with less risk for injury.
It also better prepares athletes for competitive movements that take place in a horizontal plane, such as swinging a baseball bat, and helps to prevent sports injuries.
A study published in a 1998 issue of American Journal of Sports Medicine, reported that collegiate tennis players who trained using elastic bands increased their shoulder strength and the speed of their tennis serve (12). Another study, from Louisiana State University (New Orleans), discovered that an elastic band training program strengthened the rotator cuff muscles of collegiate baseball pitchers better than a program that used free-weight dumbbells (9).
Because elastic resistance does not rely on gravity to provide resistance, it is possible to change the emphasis placed on muscles during certain exercises. This is made possible by changing the direction of pull of the elastic tubing or bands.
For example, research from Brigham Young University reported that it was possible to change the emphasis placed on the quadriceps and hamstrings during squatting or stepping exercises by changing the direction of pull of the elastic tubing (10). The ability to change muscle emphasis is important for those who want to target specific muscles either for aesthetic reasons or for strengthening for sport competition. It is also important for those with injuries, as shifting the force more to certain muscles can help protect certain associated joints. For example, greater hamstring emphasis during squatting or stepping exercises helps to protect certain structures around the knee (10). This is difficult to accomplish with free weights because, as previously stated, they require the direction of force to be vertical, due to the reliance on gravity for resistance.
Another benefit provided by the fact that elastic resistance does not rely on gravity is that it provides continuous tension to the muscles being trained. When you lift a free weight like a dumbbell in any direction other than straight up and down, the tension on the muscle can actually be removed at certain points in the range of motion. For example, when doing a biceps curl with a dumbbell, as you curl the dumbbell up towards the shoulder, at the very top of the movement the dumbbell is literally falling towards the shoulder. This means that the tension on the biceps has been removed because the dumbbell is no longer being lifted up against gravity by the biceps. When doing a biceps curl with elastic resistance, the tension is present throughout the entire range of motion because the elastic material provides resistance due to its own properties.
The fact that elastic resistance equipment does not rely on gravity also means that the elastic resistance equipment used can be inexpensive, lightweight and easily stored and transported despite its ability to provide strong resistance (11).
On the contrary, free weights must be heavy and cumbersome to provide strong resistance. In addition, free weights tend to be expensive as they are typically priced by the pound.
Another unique benefit of elastic resistance that free weight resistance does not offer is linear variable resistance. What this means is that, as the range of motion of the exercise increases, the resistance provided by the elastic equipment increases. For example, when doing a biceps curl, as you curl your hand up toward your shoulder, the resistance of the elastic tubing increases. This is due to the physical properties of elastic material. As its length increases (from being stretched), it provides more resistance (11). One of the benefits of this is that as the range of motion increases and the resistance increases, the number of muscle fibers that are being used in the exercising muscle increase. The more muscle fibers being used, the greater the adaptations in muscle strength that can be achieved with the training program. This benefit is not offered by free-weight resistance.
Muscles Strength Curves
Another reason linear variable resistance, as provided by elastic resistance, is beneficial is due to what is known as the strength curve of muscles. The linear variable resistance provided by elastic tubing better mimics the strength curves of most muscles. A strength curve refers to the way a muscle’s or muscle group’s strength changes over a range of motion. Because of their anatomy, most muscles increase in strength over the range of motion until a certain point. Again using the biceps curl as an example, as you curl the hand toward the shoulder, the muscle gets stronger up until about the halfway point of the range of motion. Thus, the biceps muscle is weakest at the start of the exercise and strongest at the halfway point of the exercise. When doing a biceps curl with a free weight, the individual is limited to how much resistance he can use by how strong the biceps are at the beginning of the exercise (its weakest point). That means that during the biceps curl, the muscle is not receiving adequate resistance when the muscle is in its strongest point in the range of motion. When performing a curl with elastic tubing, however, the resistance increases as the range of motion increases. This means the muscle is receiving greater resistance at its strongest point in the range of motion and therefore is receiving more adequate resistance to better stimulate strength adaptations.
Many individuals using elastic resistance report that they can feel a difference, such as a stronger burn in the muscles and greater muscle fatigue, as compared to when they use free weights. This is due to the linear variable resistance that the elastic resistance equipment offers. This allows a greater number of muscle fibers to be used and taxed throughout the range of motion. Anecdotal evidence aside, research studies also confirm this difference. One study performed at Truman State University (Kirksville, MO) found that athletes who included elastic resistance bench press training in their regimens had a significantly greater increase in bench press strength and power as compared to those who only utilized free-weight resistance training (5). Another study, performed at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, reported in a 2006 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, that when athletes used elastic band training in addition to free-weight training they had significantly more leg power than when they only utilized free-weight training (13).
A critical benefit of elastic resistance is that it prevents the user from “cheating” on the exercise being performed (6). This is a common practice, especially for beginners, when using free weights. Cheating involves the use of momentum to get the weight moving. Once the weight has built up momentum, the muscle fibers do not need to be maximally activated to continue moving the weight throughout the rest of the range of motion of the exercise. This is due to the fact that the physics of momentum have taken over to move the weight. The physical properties of elastic resistance devices do not allow the user to cheat by using momentum. This is because the resistance from the elastic equipment comes from the stretching of the elastic material and not the mass of the elastic equipment. The only way to continue a movement while performing an exercise with elastic resistance is to utilize more muscle fibers in the exercising muscle to continue stretching the elastic material.
Side By Side Benefits of Elastic Resistance vs. Free-Weight Resistance.
References 1. Aniansson, A. P., et al. Effect of a training programme for pensioners on condition and muscular strength. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics 3:229-241, 1984. 2. Boyer, B. T. A comparison of the effects of three strength training programs on women. Journal of Applied Sport Science Research 4(3):88-94, 1990. 3. Ebben, W. P. and Jensen, R.L. Electromyographic and kinetic analysis of traditional, chain, and elastic band squats. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 16(4):547-550, 2002. 4. Fornataro, S, et al. Investigation to determine differences in strength gains using Thera-Band at fast and slow training speeds. Physical Therapy 74(5):S53, 1994.. 5. Heinecke, M., et al. Comparison of Strength Gains in Variable Resistance Bench Press and Isotonic Bench Press. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: 18(4): e361, 2004. 6. Hughes, C. and Page, P. Scientific Basis of Elastic Resistance. In The Scientific and Clinical Application of Elastic Resistance (Page, P. and Ellenbecker, T. S. eds) Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL: 3-14, 2003. 7. Matheson, J. W., et al. Electromyographic activity and applied load during seated quadriceps exercises. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 33(10):1713-1725, 2001. 8. Mikesky, A. E., et al. Efficacy of a home-based training program for older adults using elastic tubing. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology 69(4):316-320, 1994. 9. Page, P. A. Posterior Rotator Cuff Strengthening Using Theraband(R) in a Functional Diagonal Pattern in Collegiate Baseball Pitchers. Journal of Athletic Training 28(4):346-354, 1993. 10. Schulthies, S. S., et al. An Electromyographic Investigation of 4 Elastic-Tubing Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction. Journal of Athletic Training 33(4):328-335, 1998. 11. Stoppani, J. Encyclopedia of Muscle & Strength. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. 2005. 12. Treiber, F. A., et al. Effects of Theraband and lightweight dumbbell training on shoulder rotation torque and serve performance in college tennis players. American Journal of Sports Medicine 26(4):510-515, 1998. 13. Wallace, B. J., et al. Effects of elastic bands on force and power characteristics during the back squat exercise. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 20 (2): 268–272, 2006.
One common question that we receive at Bodylastics USA Inc. is "how much resistance is the band generating for certain exercises?" In other words, if you are standing on a 19 lbs. band with a handle in each hand how much will each arm be feeling/working against?
The easy explanation is that a resistance band will generate the rated amount of tension as you stretch each single band from an anchor point.
So in the example from above, each arm will be curling against 19 lbs. of tension.
Wait! it can't be a steady 19 lbs. throughout the range of motion, right? Don't Resistance Bands Create Variable Progressive Resistance?
Yes. True! Since it's a Resistance Band, the resistance will not be a consistent 19 lbs. throughout the range of motion. It will progress as you contract and shorten each muscle for each exercise. Remember, the tension that the bands generate naturally increases as they are elongated/stretched. So, for the Arm Curl, the amount of tension may only be at 4 lbs. at the start of the exercise, and then increase to 28 lbs. as you curl your arm. This may seem significant, but it isn't. The variance in the band resistance doesn't erase the fact that you must choose enough resistance to challenge your muscles and force them to struggle. If your muscle struggles in every set, it will be forced to change.
Tension With Multiple Bands
In the case that you have "Stacked" your bands (see the picture above) you simply need to add up the tension rating for each band from the anchor point (in this case your foot). For example if you are standing on a combination of an 3, 5 and 8 lbs. band, you will working against 16 lbs. of tension, since you add the resistance rating for each single band.
Double The Resistance For A Single Band
This also means that for certain exercises, you can double the resistance and the rating of a single band by anchoring it and clipping both ends onto a handle or ankle strap. In this case there will be 2 single strands of the band from the anchor point.
Years ago, we hired a Pilates instructor to lead Reformer style Pilates workouts with Bodylastics Resistance Bands. Even though we already had a muscle building show with Bands called "Chiseled" we knew that there was an audience that would be interested in the time tested style of training that had built some of the most incredible Hollywood bodies. This style of training is Pilates.
Pilates has become a super popular style of resistance training because it builds strength in addition to long and lean muscles. It is a blend of full body movements that borrow elements from Ballet and Yoga.
Annie was the first instructor that we hired and after her very first class she said that she would NEVER buy another Pilates Reformer again for her Pilates Studios. Why? Because the stackable bands system worked so much better. While we have quite a few episodes in the archives, we wanted to start the LIVE classes again. So we recruited another amazing instructor, Jessica. As we expected, her first class was AMAZING. Try it right here in the video below:
Avoid the mistakes listed below and your Resistance Bands will last and serve you for a very long time
Sawing is when you thread your bands through a door anchor and then alternate pulling side to side (similar to a pulley system). The side to side pulling action creates friction between the band and the anchor which creates heat. How much heat? With good force and speed side to side you could literally melt the band and the anchor.
If you want to perform exercises with side to side pulling, it is recommended that you loop the band once more through the anchor, making a loop. This loop will create a simple knot which will prevent movement.
Two: Wrapping Bands Around Hard Objects
Elastic band training is super convenient, you can use them almost anywhere. It seems logical to simply anchor your bands around a pole or tree outside when you don't have access to a door. However, this can definitely damage your bands. Elastic bands are made from latex, which is a soft material.
What happens when you create a great amount of force between a soft and hard object? You damage the soft object. To avoid damaging your bands it is recommended that you use a special band anchor.
Three: Threading Your Bands Through Rings/Wires
Anchoring your bands to a stationary object will enable you to perform exponentially more exercises. Best of all, there are anchors everywhere in everyday life, right? Unfortunately many of these "anchors" come with a price, and should be avoided.
A good example are eye hooks and wires of fencing. If you thread your band through these and pull, they actually act like knives against the latex. For these types of objects be sure to attach a band "safe" anchor to the object and then secure your band(s) to that.
Four: Over-Stretching The Bands For More Tension
This is probably the most common reason why bands snap. As you probably know, bands create more resistance as you stretch them. In fact, bands have a limit to their elasticity. Many people will either shorten the bands or continue to lengthen them to increase the resistance during an exercise.
When you stretch the bands beyond their elasticity (be either shortening, them or stretching them too far), the pressure on the latex at the point of connection becomes too great, and creates tears. These tears weaken the latex and eventually lead to a snap.
Five: Storing Your Bands Improperly
Most Latex tubes are made from Natural Latex. Natural latex comes from a living plant. Latex contains moisture, (this is what keeps it stretchy) just like many other substances from nature. If you leave your resistance bands in direct sunlight or in hot dry conditions, the latex can become brittle and even crumbly. When you stretch a band that has become dry, it will easily snap.
Even if you do not keep your bands in dry conditions, they will last considerably longer if you keep them conditioned and lubricated. Great lubricants for bands usually contain silicone and some polymers. Black Magic Wet Tire Spray is a great product to use on your bands to keep them looking and acting like new.
We just finished the 6 minute Muscle Series and everyone is echoing the same thing: That program was INSANE and packed on quality muscle. Let's keep the muscle building train moving!
The week starting June 8th, 2020, we started a program called "Pulse/High Volume". It combines 3 of our most effective routines:
Studies have proven that you can build muscle with high reps! This is especially true with Resistance Bands, since they provide progressive resistance (Every rep gets harder through the range of motion)
The Program Specifics Muscle Group Split:
Day 1 - Chest & Back
Day 2 - Legs & Shoulders
Day 3 - Triceps & Biceps
Sets: There are 3 segments. Each segment is 6 to 7 minutes. In each minute you will have to do a 15 second pulse and then 30 reps. The goal is to complete the 30 reps. If you can accomplish this in one set, great!! However, you can also break the reps into smaller sets (the more likely scenario) if needed.
Reps: For each set you will start with a 15 second pulse. A pulse is like a static hold, however, you add tiny 1/4 reps. This makes the static hold considerably more nasty.
This program leverages the benefits of Time Under Tension, followed by high reps/volume. The pulse at the beginning should pre-exhaust your muscles with constant time under tension. Once they are pre-exausted they will be forced to work HARDER to complete the target number of reps. There are two ways to accomplish high volume (more work on the muscle). You can do slower reps or increase the number of reps. In this program we increase the number of reps.
Want to follow along with the video version of this Chiseled workout? CLICK HERE create your free account at the Bodylastics Workout Portal.
Warm Up: Rotator Cuff
3x Resisted Pushups
Reverse Grip Lat
3.5x One Arm Back Row
3x Wide Fly Pushups
Deadlift/Back Extension/Supermans - No Pulse
6 Cycle Abs
Warm Up: Reverse Fly and Repel Squats
Anchor Lateral Raise
Lying Hamstrings Curls
6 Cycle Calves & Abs Cool Down
Standing Biceps Curls
Standing Triceps Extensions
One Arm Preacher Curl
Crossbody Triceps Extensions
Arms Up Biceps
Forward Triceps Extensions
6 Cycle Abs
Okay, you've started working out with your resistance bands but you've hit a snag. You want the best results, however, you're not sure if you're using the right amount of tension, or how to choose the right amount of tension.
The solution to this dilemma is much more simple than you think.
Regardless of what type of resistance that you use, the principles stay the same: you will always want to choose a high enough level of tension that will overload and challenge your muscles.
In other words, you want to choose enough resistance so that your muscles are struggling in the last few repetitions of every set.
This creates an environment of physical adaptation. Listen, exercise training is an adaptive process. Your body will adapt to the stresses of exercise, but only if you challenge the muscles beyond minimal levels. You can't just go through the motions.
To achieve maximum results, you must make sure that you overload the muscle with enough tension so that you place the muscles under new stresses. How will the muscle respond to the new stresses? By becoming bigger and stronger.
Is it possible to overload the muscles with Resistance Bands, as the tension level varies and is not EXACTLY the same as free weights?
The answer to that question is HECK YES!!
If you have Stackable Bands like the Bodylastics Bands System you can easily change out a lower tension band for one that generates more tension, or just clip on an additional bands to generate higher levels of tension.
The fact that Resistance Bands increase in tension throughout the range should not change anything in regards to how much tension you choose. Again, you will want to choose a band or combination of bands that cause your muscles to struggle on the last few reps of every set.
Now, let's get to work!
Before you start reading, you might just want to do it and experience it instead. If that's the case Click the image to try the actual full length follow-along Chiseled Muscle Gambling Workout
If you want to build incredible muscle with resistance bands then you must try Muscle Gambling. In most types of gambling you only have a so so shot of winning. With this workout strategy, EVERYONE is a winner!
Here's how it works: You will write down 6 different exercise options for muscle groups on a board. Next you set a timer for the desired amount of time. Once you start the timer, you roll the dice. Whatever number that ends up on top corresponds with the number on the board. So if you roll a 4, you must do the style of reps and sets for #4 on the board. Once you have completed the reps and sets as per the instructions, you roll again. Keep rolling and working until the timer runs out. Check out one of the boards that we set up on Chiseled below:
Here is an example of a recent muscle Gambling workout for Chest, Back and Biceps that you can use for your own workout:
Warm Up: Rotator cuff - Back Extension/Abs
Chest - 9 Minutes
Back & Biceps - 12 Minutes
Believe it or not elastic resistance is the superior training tool for building speed and power on the football field. Seriously! Elastic resistance is better because you can take the exact movements from the field and make them exponentially more difficult, with super effective and smooth resistance. While you can use resistance bands to create tons of power, strength and speed building movements, there are three exercises for the gridiron that really stand out: The Resisted Forward And Side Step, the Three Point Stance Forward And Back, and the Linebacker Pop.
Let’s face it, football games are won and lost at the line of scrimmage. These three football exercises with resistance bands are going to build power and strength so that you can beat your opponent off the line. Let’s get started with the first exercise:
You can alternate side to side or you can do a certain number of reps to the right and then to the left.