Bands are often vilified and accused of being a tool only used by beginner athletes. I couldn’t see that as being further from the truth. In fact, some of the most advanced and smartest athletes I know use bands. Westside Barbell, the home of Louise Simmons and the most World Record holding powerlifters, use bands in all their training with The Conjugate Method. Although they use the bands for increased resistance in barbell movements, the concept and physics are exactly the same. Bands not only help beginners get their first pull-ups and dips, but they can help the most advanced athletes and everyone in between!
How assistance bands help you get better at pretty much everything!
- Bands provide additional assistance where the movement is most difficult and less where it is easier. For instance, in a banded pull-up, the band is stretched further at the bottom where your arms are stretched the furthest and have the least amount of leverage in the movement. The same goes for a dip, where the band is stretched furthest at the bottom of the dip when the movement is the most difficult. The band allows you to get precious reps and build strength in those weaker areas.
- Band assistance is a great way to get high repetition work which is a staple in the Westside protocol. The benefits of high-repetition work include increased blood flow to soft tissue making it stronger and more injury resistant, increased muscle density, and localized muscle endurance and lactic-acid tolerance which promotes further muscular growth and hormone function.
- Bands allow you to get full range of motion. A great example is at the bottom of the dip where I often see athletes just shy of touching their shoulders to the rings in a full depth dip. With band assistance, it is possible to lower yourself to the bottom of the dip. This ensures that the shoulder and chest muscles are stretched properly and maintain full joint function.
- Band assistance helps you clean up your movement. We all know how the highest level athletes can make a movement look so smooth and flawless. Their perfectly coordinated movements look effortless. How did they get there and how do the rest of us get there? Repetition son! Well, to be more accurate, perfect practice makes perfect. So, easing the strain on a pushup, pull-up, dip or whatever you can figure out how to get a band around, will allow you to focus on PERFECT form and get a lot of great reps. I’ve always said, a rep done is a rep learned. Your body is always learning!
Besides all of the points above, bands are cheap, easy to store, and come in many different sizes for all the different ways you can use them. They are a no-brainer to add to your training regimen.
It takes practice
There is a downside to using bands which is a learning curve on how to use them. It takes practice knowing what movements they can be used on, where to hook them up, and then it will require some trial and error for finding all of this information out. I recommend starting with a few different sizes and experimenting on some different movements. A ½” is typically the smallest, a 1” is a medium size, and then a 2” is a heavy size that you can start with. Check out this demo video with some of the movements you can use bands on, but remember there are plenty. For now, get to your gym and train! Leave some time at the beginning or end of your workouts to try some banded movements and start getting stronger today!