Many of us have become fairly good at working out at home over the last year. I would wager most of us have also learned the value of bands. A $30 band pack on Amazon can literally change the game for your ability to workout with a lack of equipment.
One of the first lessons in traveling and training professional athletes is that it's a mistake to assume you will have access to a full, properly equipped gym. It’s very difficult for a well-known athlete to waltz into a top-tier gym; people bother them, liability reasons, tons of things happen that take the focus off the athlete and away from training. Usually, we are relegated to the hotel gym which is also lacking in equipment.
"A $30 band pack on Amazon can literally change the game for your ability to workout with a lack of equipment."
As a result, I ALWAYS travel with a pack of bands. With a little creativity and 2-3 bands, you can safely recreate many of the normal movements you would do with barbells and dumbbells and even create some new movements. They have proven a useful tool time and time again for anyone who doesn’t have access to a lot of equipment. Below, I’ll give you my top band rules to help you incorporate them into your workouts safely and effectively.
Top Band Rules
- The color of the band doesn’t matter. Band tension is determined by the width and thickness of the band. The wider and thicker it is, the heavier the tension is. The color of the band varies widely based on manufacturers. You are better off choosing bands based on thickness and width.
- Don’t underestimate band tension. Start light and work towards heavy if it moves well. Since band tension increases throughout the entire concentric range of motion, it’s a completely different feel, which will result in different muscular activation and fatigue.
- Mix tempo work with high rep work. Bands work GREAT with tempo and GREAT with high rep work. Either choice increases time under tension, which increases hypertrophy and connective tissue strength.
- Turn bodyweight movements into band movements. Push-ups are fun, but banded push-ups are even more fun! Bodyweight squats are fun, but banded squats are even more fun! You get the idea.
- If you have access to dumbbells, mix in band work with DB work. For example, you could superset DB overhead press with Band Upright Rows for a different feel that smashes your shoulders.
- Always double-check your bands to ensure they aren’t ripped in any way. A little tear can turn into a complete rip quickly when you are stretching the bands out during a movement. Always better off using a fresh band.
- Anchor your band to a door for even more variety. A solid pole on your porch or in your basement is best, but not always available. You can tie a small knot in the band, put it over the top of the door, shut it so the knot is on one side and the rest of the band is on the other side, and you now have an anchored band you can do rows, triceps, presses, anything you can think of.
- Finally, you can also use bands as an amazing tool for stretching. Due to the elastic nature of bands and your muscle tissue, the two work very well together while stretching. For example, anchoring a band to a pole, looping your wrist through, and performing a lat stretch allows for a better stretch than if you just grabbed a pole with your hand because you can relax your muscle tissue and slowly increase pressure. Throw a band behind your back and over one foot and perform hamstring stretches. The band gives you something to pull on and manipulate your leg into improved positions.
Bands are a tool. Get creative, try new things, and find the best way to implement this tool into your training. Even once you’re able to consistently get back into a full gym, they can still be an amazing resource to power your workouts.
Elite Sports Performance Coach