Using bands only used to get a bad rap because it was seen as an inferior way to work out. Lifters are used to getting sore from pushing heavy weights, and so the understanding was using just bands doesn’t provide the same soreness as the weights do. While this may be true, that doesn’t mean there is no growth. In fact, the concept that you don’t get as sore is actually its biggest strength. This allows you to hit the muscles more frequently without risking overtraining. Today I’d like to go over how you can create an effective resistance training workout using only bands.
As I mentioned before, because you don’t get as sore, you can workout more frequently. With bands, this can look like a 3-4 day workout program as opposed to only a 2-3 day one. This allows you to hit the same muscle more often, sending a more frequent muscle building signal.
Intensity is usually chosen by weights. Since we are using bands we are going to have to use the thickness of the band, and/or reps as the way to best gauge intensity. This means doing 1 rep more than last week, or making the band more difficult by choosing a thicker band or pulling tighter on the band.
Because of the frequency, and there being not as much soreness, we can go with a more full body approach since the recovery is quicker. Focus on hitting exercises that target major muscle groups to get the most bang for your buck.
Some exercises you can perform with bands include:
Legs: band squat, reverse lunge, calf raise, deadlift, hip bridge, step squat, split squat, sumo squat
Chest: Chest fly, band assisted dips, seated chest press
Back: Lat pulldown, seated rows, one arm row
Arms: Tricep extension, curls, pushdown, hammer curl
Shoulders: Shoulder press, side raise, pull a-parts
You can include more isolated exercises like direct bicep and tricep work, but make sure to prioritize the bigger compound movements like squats, deadlifts, and rows first. The beauty of using bands is you will be able to get more blood flow and a feel on those muscles being worked.
2-3 days should be spent focusing on mobility or activation exercises that wake up dormant muscles. These would be much lighter days than the workout days, but allow you to keep on schedule, and get your movement in providing a light stimulus to keep the muscles active.
Here is just a couple sample days your workout and mobility days would look:
Day 1: 2-3 sets for 10-15 reps
Seated Band Chest Press
Seated Band Row
Alternating Lat Pulldown
Day 2: 2-3 sets for 10-15 reps
Day 1: 2 sets of 5-10 reps
Lizard with Rotation
Day 2: 2 sets of 5-10 reps
Thread the needle
Lateral Band Walk
Intensifier techniques like super sets and isometric holds can be used as additional tools to make the exercises harder. Use them only as needed when the bands get too easy, and doing more reps isn’t an option.