Why Train with Bands??

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Why NOT Train with Bands?

Understand this…back in the day, pumping iron was the only way to get stronger, bigger and in great shape. Body weight training, kettlebells and bands were not on the strength training radar for me and many others I trained with. As a matter of fact, I like many of my training partners laughed at bands back then.  …. I am not laughing anymore.

As a physical therapist and athletic trainer, the more I learned about how the body functioned, the more I realized free weight training was not the only answer.   Honestly, it was my physical therapy patients that really changed my mind set.  For most of them, free weights were ineffective at helping them get back to doing what they truly wanted to do. In most cases, it was a painful experience for them to use weights and since I wasn’t into creating more pain for them, weights were not an option.

Fortunately, I discovered resistance bands and instantly my ability to rehabilitate patients faster—with minimal to no pain and with significantly less verbal cuing—made it obvious what I needed to start using to help people get better.

Reasons to Train with Bands

Muscles are dumb. They do not recognize what is causing them to adapt, only that they have to.

What you are about to read in terms of training with bands will hopefully make a lot more sense if you keep that statement in mind.

Let’s talk about band training as it relates to how the body works neuro-muscularly. (I promise I won’t go mad scientist on you)

  • Bands strengthen your muscles  Day after leg daywhere they are weakest which is at the end range of movement. Considering how often we function with our arms and legs fully extended, and that 95% of injuries happen when our legs or arms are extended out away from our center of gravity, it makes sense to train the body to be strong and stable where it counts the most. Its call being long and strong and its key to being joint stable.
  • Bands allow you to train the body with true horizontal resistance where free weights can only create a vertical gravity dependent resistance.  Knowing every step we take require our body to deal with horizontal forces of momentum and ground reaction, it becomes important we strength train with more than free weight vertical resistance.

  • A band’s ascending resistance (resistance that gets hard the further you stretch the band) trains the body how to accelerate and decelerate (slow down). With a progressively harder resistance, it trains us how to accelerate movement when performing the concentric or working phase of the movement and how to decelerate or slow down by having to handle a resistance that is forcing you to move faster during the eccentric or recovery phase of a strength exercise. This is a very important aspect of strength training that is needed when you look at how often we must speed up or slow down our body throughout the day.

  • Bands allow us to train like athletes because we can simulate movements that are very athletic like shuffling, jumping, running, throwing or hitting. Bands also allow us to do basic movements like pushing, pulling and pressing while in a standing posture. Being able to train using athletic movements allows the body to maintain balance, coordination and agility while improving muscle communication.  An athletic performing body has muscles that work very well together.
  • Each band creates 30 to 40 lbs of variable resistance that will push the strongest and adapt to the weakest of individuals. It also allows you to quickly change resistance on the fly to maximize each rep, set and workout while keeping the exercise challenging at all times. Meanwhile, free weight resistance remains constant and does not adapt as fatigue sets in.  Instead you have to stop and change the weight or  start compensating when your muscles stay “no more”

Understanding that information and now combining it with these real world facts, make answering the question of “Why train with bands” even easier:

  • Flat, continuously looped resistance bands are the most convenient and portable training tool on the planet. There light weight construction and unlimited resistance allows training to take place anywhere and at any intensity.
  • The pliability of resistance bands allow them to simulate any strength training or functional movement which in turn allows muscle coordination and communication to be easily trained and transferred into real life activities or recreational sports.
  • Bands are a simple tool which makes them a very user friendly and non-threatening strength training option that can provide an optimal resistance challenge when individuals are ready to get more aggressive with their strength training program.
  • As the body ages, strength training must adapt as it relates to allowing muscles and joints to recover while also allowing movements to be modified. Resistance bands can do that  as well as adapt to anyone.  This instantly makes them by far the most joint friendly training approach for any age.

I understand that many individuals that exercise and specifically strength train regularly have never considered the impact resistance bands could have on their body.  To date most have considered it a last alternative.  Hopefully this article has opened up your mind and created a level of curiosity that resistance band training may be more of necessity than a last alternative strength training tool.

Summary

Dead-weight tools like free weights, body weights, sandbags, kettlebells and machine based resistance all create the same muscle response on the body. On the contrary, resistance bands create a completely different and unique response that has actually been proven to enhance the strength created by dead weight.

However, training with dead weight tools has not been shown to improve flexibility, balance, muscle coordination or distal joint stability as well as resistance bands can. Combining that with the fact that resistance bands are easier on your joints and muscles makes them even more intriguing for those active aging bodies that want to keep their bodies strong.

Knowing all this, why would you not want to at least consider making resistance band training a significant part of your overall strength and conditioning routine regardless of what the goal is?

Meet Dave

Dave Schmitz, PT, CSCS, PES has been writing, teaching and training how to implement resistance band training for rehabilitation, general conditioning, and performance since 1996. He is the founder & co-owner of Resistance Band Training— the leading band provider worldwide.

Along with being a co-author of the Amazon best seller, Total Body Breakthroughs, Dave is also the author and producer of numerous fitness & nutrition articles, E-books, DVDs. His passion is focused on trainers, clients, and athletes improve their body’s ability to handle momentum, gravity and ground reaction forces using elastic resistance. Dave also consults online with several high schools, universities, private performance training business and is also on the board of experts for the International Youth and Conditioning Association (IYCA).

18 Responses to "Why Train with Bands??"
  1. Jeff Ruetschi says:

    What can I say, when your right , your right!!
    Thanks Dave Y.D.M.

  2. sandy says:

    THIS IS WHY YOU ARE THE BAND MASTER, DAVE!!! KEEP UP THE GREAT INFO!

  3. mike duffy says:

    too true bands are fantastic tools

  4. I am finding that I agree 110% with the reasons presented here. I wish that I had found bands years ago. Now, for me, the days of having to do separate sessions for strengthening, stretching, and cardio are behind me. Oh, occasionally I will do something focused on just one aspect, but when I do my band workouts I get all three at once, so why not bands? Indeed! Thanks Dave!!!

  5. Demetrio says:

    Dave is the man!! Bands are the smart option!!

  6. Jack Walczak says:

    Dave,
    This is so true. And many people say that you can’t train with just bands…. Not true! If used correctly, bands can produce just as productive results, if not superior to weights or machines. I have been using bands exclusively for several years now and have just as good of results as when I trained at a gym with free weights and machines. I often feel the workouts in my muscles the next day, even when I have been training consistently over a given period of time. The fact that I can take them outside during the great weather is a definite plus, something hard to do with weights.

  7. Lena says:

    Dave-

    I do love your stuff and what you bring to the industry; however, I must comment on your opener here “muscles are dumb”.

    Untrue.

    The kind of muscles that can be dumbed down are those that we sit and train on when using gym equipment. Those so called exercises which we just do because the machine we’re on leaves us no room to expand. We’re bound into it, maybe even strapped in sitting or standing and we go thru this predetermined ROM.

    That’s dumb. And that’s a choice.

    Generally muscles are not dumb Dave and you know it if you’re a PT. The muscles are responding from the brain and muscles talk to each other, especially if you’re talking about band exercises.

    Isolating with a machine dumbs the muscles and brain down.

    It’s training with your brain AND your muscles AND thus making this neuro-integrated connection that makes the whole structure SMART.

    Don’t be dumbing down your language that bad man, Band Man.

    thx.

    Lena

  8. Dave says:

    Lena,

    Another way to look at it. You are correct in your comments.

    Thank you

    Dave

  9. Ginny ross says:

    Love your stuff!
    When you train with bands it is more functional movement as you say. This is great because it trains your Fascia not just your muscles. Fascia has 10 times more sensory receptors than muscle FACT. Repetitive movement done with weights does nothing to build fascial resilience. Life is rarely about loading tissue this way and does not prepare the body for the ranges of motion found in sport.

  10. I train with bands often. That being said, I think that the more tools you have in your tool box the more likely you’re going to use the right tool.

    Everytime someone ask me if I think they should buy “xyz” product, I respond,

    “For utility, economy, portability, this is my list:

    If I had $20 to invest in equipment, I’d buy a stability ball. If If I had $40, I’d add a pull up bar.
    Anything else is going to bands until I have a full set of Super Micros through Strongs, then I’d add other equipment.”

  11. Great article Dave, I have been using bands seriously in my workouts since my heart transplant 14 1/2 years ago. Your article hits some great points that I tell others about bands & how to use them & make you strong. Awesome job & keep up the great work!!!

  12. Daud says:

    Its like the phrase”stupid is as stupid does” I’m going to be 52 this year and at 6’5 360lbs I got complacent and the muscles got stiff and any attempt at an old iron workout hurt bad, and recovery time took three times as long.the bands have given me an awesome alternative so for me all five statements are true and so keep the blogs coming and I will keep preaching to my friends and showing them the crucible of steel is back through bands. Let’s get it done brother!

  13. brotha gil says:

    I truly admire you for your Skill & Dedication to your craft. It’s very Motivating & Inspiring. I have certain restrictions resulting from two very traumatic car accidents, lost my best Friend Marcus, R.I.P. & left me somewhat disabled. I’ve always logically known Bands were a very effective way to train, but in our era there wasn’t alot of info on band training & everybody was on either a machine (mostly women) or free-weights. But bands are not just extremely effective but for where I’m at right now physically they are my very best option. And to have someone like yourself, abt my age, so motivated, knowledgeable, & enthusiastic to follow is invaluable. So THANK YOU. It took a little while to get the finances up but I purchased a deal you had going which included the ‘Total Package & 77 W/Os. And now that I see this ‘Band Strong’ material which progressively guides from week to week, I believe would’ve really benefitted from that much more, but can not afford it for about a year, but will make due with what I got. Thanks Again -Band Man- I Salute You! 😉 <

  14. Mark Mattingly says:

    Dave: Extremely informative post. I have to confess that in the past I have been using you videos but not your bands because of pricing, although I have recently been able to purchase Quantum bands and I noticed immediately that they appear to be of a better quality than the generic bands I have previously been using. In addition, your information regarding the proper care of the bands will be helpful as well. In the future we will make it a goal to purchase Quantum bands for our home gym. The informative blog posts and videos are appreciated more than you know. Thanks Dave!

  15. Frank DiMeo says:

    Dave, ever since you did that seminar for us back in 2008 we have used your traini9ng ideas and bands! Thanks!
    Have a blessed Thanksgiving

  16. admin says:

    Frank

    Always good to hear from you… Glad things are going well.

    Have a great Holiday Season

  17. admin says:

    Mark,

    Thank you very much for the feedback.

    It touches on exactly what RBT.com and Quantum Bands are all about.

  18. admin says:

    Daud,

    Thank you for the props and your trust in RBT.com

    Always appreciated

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