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What makes the resistance band a good training tool? Whether it is used in a gym setting or at home, a resistance band can be used in two ways. It can be used to increase or decrease the resistance at certain points along the strength curve.
In Resistance Bands: four back exercise to try at home, we looked at how you can use a resistance band to replace a cable. In this blog we will be using a resistance band as additional resistance for some of the exercises from Five bodyweight exercises to do at home or the gym.
The strength curve is how we lift a resistance. When we use barbells, dumbbells or kettlebells we get to points on the strength curve where an exercise feels easier or harder with the same weight. When the force (weight/load) is heavy the velocity is slow. When the force (weight/load) is lighter the velocity is quicker. This occurs when we use dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells and body weight exercises. We are stronger at some portions of the lift than others. Generally the sticking point is where the load is heavy and the velocity is slow and the easier part of the lift the weight feels lighter and velocity is faster. Take a press up. The top half of the movement is easier than the bottom half of the movement. As the arms bend, the resistance starts getting heavier. When you reach the bottom of the press up and you are just off the floor, the sticking point, and start pushing back up the force (weight/load) feels heavy. As you push back up to the start position the force (weight/load) feels easier – even though the force (weight/load) has not changed.
Resistance bands allow for variable resistance along the strength curve, using them minimises the sticking point. This means as you carry out the exercise the resistance increases at the easiest points, giving you more resistance and provides less resistance at the harder points, make it easier. For example, continuing to use the press up. Adding a band around your back during the press up will mean you have less resistance at the bottom of the press up – the band is more relaxed. As you press up, the band gets tighter, increasing the resistance the further up you press. Some believe that resistance bands, when used with dumbbells and barbells, allow for higher forces and power outputs compared to free-weights alone.
Another advantage with resistance bands is the muscle is consistently engaged through the whole range of an exercise. With dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells, the muscles can relax a little as gravity takes over. Using resistance bands you have to control the band back to its start position as it is ‘pulling’ you back. The resistance band has an affect on both the lowering (eccentric) and lifting (concentric) phase of a lift. For example, in the press up the resistance band is pulling you down form the top – meaning you lower under control. You then pause at the bottom and press back up, as you pass the sticking point the resistance starts to increase.
In the following videos we add the resistance band to exercises you may have been doing over the last few weeks, which where covered in Five bodyweight exercises to try at home or the gym
Banded Hip Bridge
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground, with your feet positioned about hip width apart and near to your glutes (bottom). Loop one end of a resistance band under one heel, pull it up over the front of your hips and pull it down looping the other end under your opposite heel. Pull the band up to your hips and hold it here. To Bridge, push down through your heels, squeezing your glutes and bracing your core, as you drive the hips up into the air. Pause when your shoulders, hips and knees are aligned. Hold for a count of 1-2 seconds then lower under control back to the floor.
Banded Hip Hinge
Loop a resistance band around a strong and stable anchor point, around hip height. Step into the band and face away form the anchor point, take two to three strides forwards, this applies tension to the band. Stand tall with your hands in the crease of your hips, position your feet slightly wider than your hips, with your toes pointing forwards. Engage your core and keep a neutral spine throughout the movement, keep your head looking straight ahead when standing and looking to the floor when hinging. Push your hips back to initiate the movement, as the hips move back you start to bow. When the hips stop moving back, you stop bowing. You should have a slight bend at the knees. To stand, bring the hips back under the shoulders, straightening the legs – squeeze your glutes to do this and push against the resistance band.
Banded Press Up.
Take hold of the resistance band, one end in each hand. Loop the band around your back, have the band set just below the level of your armpits. Start in a plank position with your hands on the floor, slightly wider than shoulder width and just below your arm pits. Your body should form a straight line between your ankles, knee, hips and head. Keep your core tight and glutes engaged, lower yourself down until your chest is just off the floor. Keep your head down, looking at the floor. Keeping your core tight and glutes engaged, push yourself up until your arms are straight – your upper and lower body should rise all at the same time.