A lot of those who are new to the world of strength training fall in love with the seemingly endless gains in strength, particularly those who are brand new, or who have had a long lay off. This love affair with the gainz is VERY understandable; it feels AMAZING to constantly improve at something.
The confidence you gain from getting stronger, as well as the real world application of this newfound strength, is extremely addictive, and is often the main reason most of us fell in love to begin with.
The need to “feel” like we are always improving can lead to a slippery slope, in the fitness world. Weights can be increased too fast. A focus is take off of “how” you are doing an exercise, and place squarely on “what” you are doing. While performance related workout modalities, like Crossfit, certainly have my respect, it flies in the face of my thoughts on how I think we should all train on a daily basis.
I have always thought that training for simply “performance” without any emphasis placed on “execution” makes little to no sense, especially if you are trying to change the way you look and feel. My frequent challenge to all of my clients at the gym is to fully exhaust the difficulty level of an exercises, whether is be a TRX single leg squat, or a basic DB Floor Press, before increase load or level of difficulty. So what does this have to do with bands, you might ask?
At our gyms, we have a variety of different resistance bands, all varying in difficulty. Generally, the thicker the band, the more resistance it has to offer. While if you want to increase the amount of tension in a DB Bicep Curl, all you have to do is move up in load, with a band, it is not that simple, and not as necessary. Bands provide what is called an “accommodating resistance”.
Going back to our DB Bicep Curl example, a 15 pound dumbbell will offer the same amount of resistance through the entire ROM. A band, however, is quite different. As the band gets pulled further and further away from its origin of attachment, the amount of resistance steadily increases as well. A lot of people think that in order to get “stronger” with bands, you just need to use a thicker band, and yes, while that is true to a certain extent, it isn’t that simple.
BEFORE moving up in band difficulty, you should fully exhaust everything that the current band has to offer you. Doing band bicep curls? Stand on a box while doing them, with the band looped in underneath. Performing lying band leg curls? Scoot out another 3 feet away from the attachment point. How about band pull-aparts?
Move your hands IN 3 inches, and then try it. What do all of these things have in common? Instead of blindly going up in “band difficulty”, you are maximizing the effectiveness that the current band is bringing to the table by increasing the top end amount of tension. Then, and only then, should you increase the thickness of the resistance band you are using.
The next time you train with bands, remember, it is not “what” we do, or “what it looks like” we are doing, but rather “how” we do what we do that ultimately gets the best results, and provides your body with the ideal stimulus to change.
This is one of the reasons that resistance bands are some of the most effective tools out there for enhancing muscular size and strength, you only need one band, and a willingness to increase difficulty by changing your body position, in order to see those gainz!