T Nation

Bands Thread


I have bands and have used them in my training for over a decade. I have used a "little" band tension to prevent deceleration and I have used lots of double band tension.

But in the bench press, when I went back and looked at my logs for more than a decade, I found that almost all of my new bench maxes were set in periods when I simply benched with barweight only. In fact all except about 10-15 pounds of my improvement from 170-360 came in just 20 or so months over a 16 year period in which I simply used barweight. Maybe I had a rare band workout in 1-2 times a month as a kind of refresher.

So anyway, as cool as they are, and plus the idea thinking that they give me some kind of edge, I have come to think that barweight only is the way to go at least for benching raw. I know a lot of shirted lifters have also gone away from bands.

Which great bench pressers (raw or shirted) do a lot of their bench presses with bands these days?

I also have gotten away from true "speed" bench presses, seeing the same basic effect from just having occasional lighter days for higher reps.

Now I definitely use box squats, both fast and heavy, and bands seem to be integral to box squats because I am so much stronger at the top, but I'd be interested to see what people think about bands for squats too.

In general have bands been overused, or are they trending out?

Anyway I was kind of surprised to see that all of my net progress in the bench occured over about 6-7 routines of 2-3 months each over 16 years. Also found that all of those periods I was bench pressing every 2-3 days, with an occasional extra day off.


My experience with bands is as follows. In the beginning I had great success with using them. I saw dramatic gains in all 3 lifts. It taught me to fire all at once and my lifts improved from the technical standpoint. I added weight to the bar simply from using more of the muscle I already had. I used to joke that my body is one giant 'slow twitch muscle'.

After I learned the skill of lifting faster, my improvements slowed in the bench press especially. With squatting and deadlifting I still had good success. Once the "RAW zealots" and up and coming 'gu-ru's" started basically rebelling (IMO) against West-Side like training claiming bands to be ineffective and all that, I quit using them. Well, my dead took a shit fast.

My squat started to slip and my bench did nothing. I ultimately ended up settling with the benching with bands on deload weeks to see if I 'still got it' in terms of speed. I nerd it up and actually use a metronome app to keep the cadence honest. You'd be surprised how long 3 seconds is at first, and towards that 8th set, how short it is lol. Deadlifting against bands has remained a staple of my routine. Squatting I have used bands in some form about 1/2 the time.

In all truthfulness, I have switched to the 5/3/1 since Jim's new book came out. I'm coming back from a rebuilt shoulder surgery and my shoulder just isn't right, never will be but will never use as a crutch but heavy weights hurts like fk so I've dropped the weight, and started doing more reps. I'm doing the format with the Joker sets and the first sets last so I can get some volume in and still sort of hit some 'heavy' stuff.

I also intentionally set my 1rms light and I'm repping the shit outta my PR sets like a boss. BUT squatting 345 18 times is never as cool as 500+ for a triple.

Take away point. I think bands and chains are great. But I think most folks took something good, and went bat shit crazy with them. Weight releasers are great too but no one talks about that. I guess it's because you can't put them in a gym bag... Anyways, they are a tool, much like most tools they work for a specific task. If you have no need for that task, they will not be as effective. Plus there the always true adage of everything works, nothing works forever.


I think bands help my deadlift quite a bit, but I also think the reason was specific to me. Two caveats there, one: I was relatively new to dead lifting at all so it might've just been been gains. Also my grip sucked so heavy reverse bands pulls with a hold at the top helped. Oh, and bands seem easier to recover from for some reason.

Bench, it took me a while to figure out how to get something out of it I think. "Firing all at once" is close to a good description. I really feel that some people can benefit a lot from accommodated speed work, and some others not so much. Some people are already explosive. Also I think mileage varies on what a lifter can get out of bands without a coach. Personally I think I woulda got more, faster, with a good coach.


So, I've got a bit more of a novice perspective than the previous posters: I've recently found that deadlifting against bands every couple of weeks has really help me bust through the sticking point at the "transition phase" at knee-level. I'm no huge deadlifter, and my max hasn't budged from about 460 pounds in about eight months, but I now have the feeling as though speed isn't the problem any more.


thanks. What I have settled into is basically adding weight to a set-rep scheme, maybe 70% x 3; 75% x 3 and 80% x 3 x 3 but completed in 10 minutes. Add 5 pounds as frequently as possible, at least 2 workouts per week. When I stall though I will do one workout with bands to reset and then go back to barweight.

I was thinking though that I could start out doing 5 x 3 with a certain barweight plus bands, say 200 barweight and a double medium band. When I stall, switch to a double small next time and continue adding weight, and then when I stall again, in the next workout go to just barweight and work up.

I used to use an online metronome, but if you want something ultra nerdish, I made a 0.7 meter pendulum (period 1 sec) and hung it from the chin bar in my power rack. It maintains its period even with small oscillations.


You MUST teach me this. Drop me a PM?


Been following 531 since 2008 (I think) and came to it from a traditional W.S. My bp never responded to 531 though - other 2 did - big time. My "go to" has always been Ricky Dale Crane's progressive/descending 15 week cycle. But I eventually stalled and was intrigued with the release of "Beyond," specifically the "advanced" template.

I love it so far. My bench for some reason responds to ordered increases. However, and I know this is breaking Jim's rules and I do so assuming all responsibility, I was also intrigued with his "dynamic" additions to the program. SO...8x3 or 5x5 before (either bands or camber at 70% - sometimes I'll do 4x3 - main work - 4x3) has been my very recent course.

So far so good. With bench and deads, I have always responded well to priming my main work with dynamic via extended range of motion or bands, and then doing my main work. The weight often flies when I return to normal rom or sans bands. I have never benefitted much, however, doing DE on a separate day. Too much for me even in my younger days.


Drop your knowledge on this thread i want learn that too!
Also i have studies on my computer where they tested De-bench with bands and straight weight. They get more force when used bands.


Did you, (or others who posted about them helping deadlifts) use reverse bands, or bands that added tension at the top?


I'd say 90% was done AGAINST bands, quadded mini's for deads typically or short monsters once those came out. Chains prolly made up most of the remaining 10% and I'd do rev band for deads on rare occasions. I think I have done rev band squats once or twice just to see how it felt but never have done them seriously, for no particular reason, just haven't done it. Now for bench, If I had a dollar for every set of rev bands, I'd be rich. Love me some rev band bench. Anything that overloads my tri's helps me greatly.


One thing I like about bands for deadlifting is that I think they're good for developing a good starting position. What I found is that if you're too off from the start, you don't have the speed and position to finish the lift because of the extra tension when the bar gets to about knee level.

In a way it seems counter intuitive, but somehow it works.


id definitely echo strengthdawg on bands teaching you how to use the muscle you have explosively, and that some people are just explosive to start with (usually people with better relative strength)

i have also found the same as fletch, if you let the bar get forward on you with heavy band tension that bar will be bouncing off the floor before you know it.

personally bands work for me on bench cos im pretty weak off the chest and my shoulders cant stand up to huge volume so a paused bench with bands lets me hit both. also for ballistic bench, awesome, cant emphasise enough how much of a difference this made to my bench. ive been doing heavy jump squats for a while but not until i got bands could i do the same thing safely with the bench. i also do the whole dynamic-kinetic-whateveryoucallit: hanging weights off the bar from bands. my shoulders are completely shot so they love me for doing anything that builds the stabilisers. come to think of it i dont know why ive never done this on a squat, ill have to try that.

for the squat i dont use them that much, usually when i go for a 5RM on ATG high bar squats, just because theyre brutal and feel great. sometimes on box squats, and almost always on heavy good mornings cos i dont like cutting the ROM but then its tough to overload the top.

a bit like GMs, i love bands for RDLs, or anything where you get a good stretch before an explosive, hard contraction. i do use them on conventional deads from time to time when i stop remembering to accelerate all the way through the lift (ive never done a reverse band dead, dunno why not).

more and more though i use bands for accessory work, a lot of the time on their own. right now im loving facepulls with just bands, also pullaparts, pullthroughs, flyes, whatever. plus you can do them anywhere, anytime, just grab a band and go.

oh, and one more, assisted chinups on the rings, my new wife's new favourite thing, she likes the bouncy motion...