Resistance Bands – Can Work Chest and Shoulders Better Than Free Weights?

May 13, 2010

Okay, so today I was doing some research online and my goal was to do another article on working the upper chest. This was inspired by an excellent post over on John Romaniello’s blog. John put up an outstanding post about 3 creative exercises to work the heck out of your upper pecs (click to read that article). I was going to add in my 2 cents and expand upon this article, but something else happened. John mentioned that one of his friends, Bret Contreras, did EMG testing for various chest exercises to find out which exercises targeted parts of the chest best. The results were surprising!
A-Team
[I went to see Iron Man 2 this past weekend with my girlfriend and saw the previews for the A-Team. Bradley Cooper plays “Face” and it looks like he got in pretty darn good shape for that role. I have a feeling people are going to ask how to get in the Bradley Cooper look in the near future. Anyway, all the characters look cast well and I’m excited for this movie.]

I Went Over to the Dark Side to Find This Research

Okay, so I like to joke that TMuscle.com and Bodybuilding.com are the “dark side”. To be honest there is a ton of great info on these sites, but the forums are a bit out of control and they push the roided’ out look pretty hard. I typically stay away from these sites, but John Romaniello peaked my curiosity with his chest workout post…darn you John! His friend Bret put up two fascinating articles over on Tmuscle (formerly T-nation). One article was a study to find out the best chest and tricep exercises and another was for the best shoulder and trap exercises.

Bret Measured Electrical Activity of Muscles During Exercise

Here is how he describes what he was measuring:

EMG measures the electrical activity of muscles during exercise. While EMG doesn’t directly measure muscular tension, the two should be very similar (although slightly off-set), as the electrical activity that EMG measures is simply a measurement of the nervous system’s signal to the muscles. Increased EMG activity is indicative of the nervous system’s attempt to produce more muscular force. (That’s a good thing, by the way.) I used a Myotrace 400 from Noraxon to measure the EMG of every exercise.

Measuring Isometric Contractions as a Baseline

Before electrical activity of each exercise was examined, Bret measured how hard a muscle could contract isometrically. Subjects could simply flex their muscles as hard as possible or push against an immovable object. The goal was to flex the target muscle hard and get an EMG measurement. This measurement is called Maximum Voluntary Contraction…or MVC for short. All EMG readings for an exercise are compared to your MVC as a percentage. So if barbell curls got the same reading as simply flexing your bicep, your activation percentage is 100. If the EMG reading for your biceps for barbell curls was half of your MVC reading, your activation percentage would be 50.

Measuring “Peak” Activation & “Mean” Activation for Each Exercise

Peak activation is simply the highest recorded electrical activity of a muscle on a lift. Mean activation is the average electrical activity during a lift. When you perform a barbell bench press, for instance the average activation (“Mean” activation) reading might be 110 (10% higher than your MVC reading), but your maximum reading (“Peak” activation) during that lift might be 150 (50% higher than your MVC reading). I hope this isn’t getting too confusing. It took me a couple of times reading to get a full understanding of what this meant.

So Can Resistant Bands Work Better Than Free Weights?

I won’t make a bold statement like that (makes for a good title though). I will tell you this…I was extremely surprised how favorably resistance band exercises compared to free weights. Let me show you the exercises that came out on top for pecs and delts.

Upper Pec:
Mean – Mid Pulley Crossover, Band Push Up, JC Band Press
Peak – DB Incline Press, Guillotine Press, JC Band Press

Mid Pec:
Mean – DB Bench Press, Floor Press, Fly
Peak – Guillotine Press, DB Bench Press, Fly

Lower Pec:
Mean – Weighted Dip, Blast Strap Push Up, Guillotine Press
Peak – Guillotine Press, Fly, Weighted Dip

Front Delt
Mean – Seated Behind Neck Press, Seated Military Press, Incline Press
Peak – Seated Behind Neck Press, Standing DB Military Press, Incline Press

Mid Delt
Mean – Band Face Pull, Lateral Raise, Seated Behind Neck Press
Peak – Band Face Pull, Lateral Raise, Cable Lateral Raise

Rear Delt
Mean – Band Face Pull, Bent Over Rear Delt Raise, Prone Rear Delt Raise
Peak – Band Face Pull, Bent Over Rear Delt Raise, Hanging Row

So I Am Going to Add Resistance Bands Into My Routine

I have had good intentions for a long time to add in some resistance band work, but just thought they were more about convenience and not as effective as lifting weights. Two exercises in particular that interest me are the “JC Band Press” (for upper pecs) and “Band Face Pulls” (for rear and side delts). I guess I have put off using resistance bands because the type of resistance feels a little odd to me. It is obvious that I need to drop this excuse and add in some resistance band work. Here’s an awesome video that Bret made showing the top 50 resistance band exercises…

[I love Youtube! Seriously, this short video is outstanding and valuable. To see the full post about this video head on over to this post on his blog: Top 50 JC Band Exercises.]

What Are Your Thoughts on Resistance Bands?

I would love to hear some opinions on this. To me the feeling is completely different than lifting weights. I haven’t really given them a fair shake. I have talked about them in my newsletter a bit, but never took the plunge and implemented them into my routine. I look forward to hearing some different viewpoints on the subject.

Note: Here are the links to the guest posts Bret did on Tmuscle: Inside the Muscles: Best Chest and Triceps Exercises , Inside the Muscles: Best Shoulders and Trap Exercises

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{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

max May 13, 2010 at 4:45 pm

very interesting, I would like to see similar posts on what are the best exercise for other parts of the body e.g biceps,abs,back etc.

Eat Steak Lose Weight May 13, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Although I have not really used resistance bands, preferring calisthenics, it has always seemed intuitive to me that resistance bands could produce some great effects when compared to free weights.

The fundamental operation of weight lifting is that resistance is created by gravity pulling on the weights. Of course we all know that the amount of leverage created by weights varies greatly throughout the range of motion since the vector of gravity is always in one direction. To test this in your head, ask whether it is easier to move the weight one degree of a circle when your arm is parallel to the ground or perpendicular to the ground. Obviously, making a small movement with the weight is harder when your arm is at a 90 degree angle to gravity is a lot harder (basic physics at work). The physically hardest part of the exercise is the exact place where the momentum of the weight is often the highest, thus reducing the amount of work actually done, a,d thus the recommendation to do your reps slowly and with complete control. It both reduces chance of injury and makes you work harder.

A resistance band also has plusses and minuses. Since the force is contained in the tension of the band itself, you can get resistance from the band no matter what its orientation to gravity. This is why anyone who is working out in space is always using some type of resistance band because without gravity they have nothing else.

Resistance bands keep you from cheating the way you can with weights. However, the benefit of resistance bands is also why exercises must be specially tailored for them to be effective, as opposed to just replacing a weight with a resistance band and doing the exact same motion.

Since the resistance comes from tension in the band, tension increases as you lengthen the band. Just like with weights, the use of the bands must be slow and controlled or you won’t really get the benefit.

While it’s easy to nerd out on muscle activation scores and the merits of one exercise against another, I think the value you gain can be almost as much in how you do the exercise as in what exercise you are doing. Badly performed resistance band work will be beaten by well performed free weight work, just as badly performed free weight work will be outclassed by well-executed resistance band work.

So while we can geek out about all of this, I think a lot of it ends up with what exercises you will enjoy and actually perform well, since a mediocre exercise you like and do well will be beaten by an awesome exercise that you don’t actually do or like.

Mike May 13, 2010 at 6:10 pm

They also did a best back and biceps article: Back & Biceps

David Grim May 13, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Rusty,

As a 6’6″ ectomorph, the chest is the hardest thing for me to build up. I’ll give these exercises a try and see if they help. Thanks.

David

PS Here’s a shameless plug for the Bradley Cooper Workout:
http://www.squidoo.com/bradley-cooper-workout

Farley May 13, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Hey Rusty,

I have a set of Everlast bands that I got with some Chase reward points (coudn’t bring myself to spend actual cash on them, thinking the results would be if-y). I gotta say, I really like the long band and the mid sized one. (There is this tiny one that I can’t figure out what the hell to do with, but the other two are great.)

Following a chest/back routine, I like to wrap the long band around a pole in my basement and do kind of what the guy in this video is doing. I finish my chest with crossovers, both incline and flat. Because you can bring your arms across one another you get a really nice pinch in the inner chest.

You can also stand on the band to create nice tension when doing bicep curls. Biggest difference I notice between dumbbell or barbell curls and band curls is that bands provide resistance through the whole range of motion. You get a nice resistance tension throughout the movement including the peak contraction point and the eccentric portion of the movement.

I don’t use them for much more than that but I do like them for this finishing type of work versus pushups or high rep curls with light weights. After reading this, and watching the video, I need to figure out some ways to incorporate more band work into my routine. The science behind weightlifting TOTALLY interests me. If I can get more electrical activity out of the muscles to stimulate more growth or definition, I’m all for that!!!

Cheers,
Farley

Darrin May 13, 2010 at 9:45 pm

I’d definitely put resistance bands in the “nice to have for convenience” category. But the great thing about free weights is having the ability to be precise with the amount of resistance and to go heaver or lighter easily.

As impressive as the study and findings are, I think I’ll be sticking with bench presses, push ups, and variants. (If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.) But who knows, I’m an open-minded guy.

Keith May 13, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Rusty,
Did you try out the guillotine press on John’s blog? That exercise seems really interesting, but also seems very dangerous. Any thoughts on that exercise?

[email protected] May 13, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Very Interesting. I’ve never really payed much attention to resistance bands, but maybe I’ll take a second look.

Chris Cannon May 13, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Rusty,

I’ve been seeing the muscle mags talk a lot about resistance bands recently, but not sure I’m sold on the idea.

The only reason I’ve even considered them in the past was as an item to bring with me when traveling; but even that hasn’t pushed me over the fence yet.

Maybe I’ll pick up a set before my next trip and give them a test.

~Chris

Chris May 13, 2010 at 11:36 pm

If you are interested in adding resistance bands to your workout, you must visit BodyLastics.com. I recently purchased a set from them. They use a clip system so that you essentially have adjustable dumbbells in the form of resistance bands. They also come with a lifetime warranty, which is crazy, for rubber tubes. Their strong man edition goes up to 254 pounds of resistance and they just recently released, or are about to release a new set that goes up to 388 pounds of resistance. I don’t work for the company nor am I trying to advertise for them. Just use their product and highly recommend it to anybody.

I believe, personally, that resistance bands are as effective is not more effective than free weights. Our muscles cannot tell the difference between a resistance band and a dumbbell. Resistance is resistance. What makes resistance bands so great, especially if you can get heavy resistance with a set like the ones I mentioned above, is they absolutely do not allow you to use momentum that so many people use when lifting free weights. Ever notice the person curling 50 pouns by swinging and swaying all over the place. Cannot do that with a resistance band. It will not help. Some people have found that they can curl a 50 pound dumbell but can barely curl a 30 pounds of resistance from a resistance band. They also reduce the risk of injury to your joints and as a whole. Definately try adding them to your routine!!!

John Romaniello May 14, 2010 at 12:34 am

Great post, Rusty, and thanks for the props!

I’m a big fan of resistance bands. Sometimes in lieu of weights, sometimes in *addition* to them–ie using dumbbells with resistance bands attached to add elastic resistance at the top of the movement.

Lots of fun with all that.

John May 14, 2010 at 1:52 am

I like them. I use the beside my free weights. You can workout some other muscle groups better with the bands. The small muscle groups, more groups for the chest, and so on. But my dumbells rules (-:

Eddie May 14, 2010 at 2:33 am

Hey Rusty! that Bret guy is amazing! He did some work earlier, where he came up with unique glute muscle building exercises that were much better than the conventional squats, deads, and lunges. The activation from the exercises he suggested were really damn good, I think his article is still up on tnation, I know you don’t like that site lol.

Chris - ZTF May 14, 2010 at 3:16 am

I have used bands in the past and they are pretty good. Definitely work the muscle in a different way to free-weights, and I have had some pretty good workouts combining bodyweight work with resistance bands.

Also I think that bands are far easier on the joints than free weights so also good for those recovering from overuse injuries who want to maintain muscle and tone.

Carl May 14, 2010 at 5:30 am

I have been a fan of resistance cables ever since I discovered this place a few years back:

http://lifelineusa.com/content/section-muscle-building

There are many different cables to choose from, in varying amounts of resistance, and some of the handles will allow up to 3 cables to be used simultaneously… so one can get nearly any combination of resistance they need.

As the Youtube clip exposed, I think the greatest benefit with these is the versatility. I don’t have any dumbbells at the moment, just a leverage system, some bars, and olympic plates. But it’s nice that I can simulate many dumbbell movements with the cabling.

I not only tether the cables to my relatively unmovable leverage system, but also stand on them, or even run them under a bench to do pressing motions.

Another bonus is that these things take up little space and are super lightweight. For people that have to travel a lot, you’d only need a pair of handles and a cable or two and you have a half-decent workout.

Aaron Curl May 14, 2010 at 6:34 am

I used to be a very closed minded guy. When I was a gym rat ….I wouldn’t listen to people that said go run or ride a bike for cardio. Now I run and ride a bike and common since told me to work out more…..lol. I will be buying resistance bands to add to my bodyweight workouts. As for the guys swinging all over trying to use momentum to lift a weight, I used to think was bad, but look at all of the other muscle that is being recruited to get that weight to its desired location can be a good thing! Look at crossfit.

Raymond May 14, 2010 at 7:41 am

I saw an article that Taylor Lautner was using bands on the movie set Twilight (…if this is true how did you miss that ? LOL)

I brought some bands and take them with me when ever I travel, it makes a workout in the hotel room really easy.

I like using them in circuit training.

For me its always going to be free weights and I can’t see them ever replacing those but hey ” What ever works” try it out.

I admit I do have a fear that they will snap one day so I never really stretch all the way πŸ™‚

Matt May 14, 2010 at 7:51 am

Those resistance bands Chris posted look pretty good, Ive always had a thought of using resistance bands since I was reading that Taylor Lautner used them. I really see the benefits of using them and will think about incorporating them into my normal workout

gus May 14, 2010 at 8:25 am

rusty.

think i will give resistance band a try, seems to be the new thing in hollywood fitness right now. i also saw iron man 2 the other week, and a glanse at the new movie A-team, both Bryan and Robert Downey jr looked in pretty good shape.

i was wondering if u could do a post on cheat days and how it can relate to fatt loss, this is supposted to be a great way to increase leptin an result in faster fat loss.

Matt May 14, 2010 at 11:37 am

I got diet question for anyone to answer. Okay so every day my “breakfast” is a fruit shake with a cup of orange juice and a cup full of strawberrys and maybe some more blackberrys and blueberrys. Im in the last stage of loosing the last of my body fat I just have a small amount on my stomach. Do you think this is a bad “breakfast” in brackets because a lot of times I don’t eat until 1pm which is a hour or 2 after the gym. If this is bad what would be better to get rid of body fat. I do HIIT and 15/18 hour fasts once or twice a week

Ed May 14, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Great article Rusty, I have only been using resistance bands since August 2009 and they are awesome.
I have seen tremendous improvement in my entire body, even my calves. They work the abs great as well, just stay away from the side bends…LOL
I tried using resistance bands years ago but got turned off by them because they felt so weird using them for the first time.

I did find out that all resistance bands are not created equally.
I tried Lifeline USA’s bands but never got comfortable with them, I was done with bands after that, but I always heard how great bands were so I tried again with Bodylastics T.O. Bands and I have been using them ever since.

I would urge everyone to consider that using free weights for your shoulder development is extremely dangerous if not cautious. You could do damage to your shoulder joints in the long run, requiring you to get surgery to correct the injury.

Hey Rusty did you ever do an e-book for the muscle specialization workouts you had mentioned awhile back? Or are those types a workouts in the new e-book? I wanted to know before I bought the new e-book.

Thanks

Michael May 14, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Yeah I have been thinking about using these as well. Had heard terrel owens uses them or has used them. May need to look into it more, you’ve def. Peaked my interest again, rusty.

Ron May 15, 2010 at 1:05 am

Hey, if they’re good enough for Bruce Lee, they’re good enough for me!

Yavor May 15, 2010 at 6:57 am

I think this is a great idea, actually. I’ve been using cables for certain exercises to achieve constant tension.

Bands, however, provide increasing tension as you push further.

I am currently training ‘ghetto’ style to save time+money – dumbbells, pushups and handstand pushups at home and playground exercises such as dips, chins etc in front of my building. It is so easy to hook those bands on the playground apparatuses. Super neat!

I will look into options of making your own bands – for example the bands used to secure stuff on top of your car might do the tick..

Y.

Charles May 15, 2010 at 9:00 pm

I`ve always had a hunch that resistance bands were superior for certain things. I use them to warm my joints up before Rings and parallel bar routines for gymnastics, and they can be a great beginning strength trainer for getting the Iron Cross.
Only problem is that it`s hard to tell if you`re progressing since you can`t measure the resistance very accurately.

Charles

Seth May 16, 2010 at 1:10 pm

A great workout would be all 50 of those band exercises in a routine!

I am not sure if I will use bands or not. I dont want to do the bands and lose strength in bench press because I did the bands instead. But that said, I will try a face pull on the cable cross-over machine at my gym, I have been trying to build up my shoulders for awhile now.

I am excited to try those pectoral exercises from the email I got, with the fly aways.

Michael May 17, 2010 at 1:12 am

Hi Rusty,

What do you recommend for lagging lower-chest development? I can press pretty huge weights for my size (160 lbs, bench 225 and flat db press 100 max), but I never seem to feel my lower chest working when I do decline bench or db press.

I try to keep strict form (45 degree elbows, lower slowly, emphasis on the lower portion of the movement), but nothing seems to help, and I feel it more in my bi’s and tri’s than in my pecs. Are there any other exercises that might help?

Thanks, and keep up the great articles!

gators May 17, 2010 at 1:54 am

for the last 6 months i’m about 70%/30% when it comes to using bands…am really enjoying the different kind of workouts they provide. they are excellent for travelling, i recently took mine over to Asia, very convenient to do a quick workout in the hotel room. weights are still important, but am a big fan of resistance bands..

Usman May 17, 2010 at 4:17 am

Hey Rusty, great website. I have been following your guidelines to create a square chest by dropping the all flat bench exercises and only focusing on all sorts of incline chest exercises. My chest has lost its width but recently have not been noticing any further changes. I am currently following the virtual impact routine and am in phase II. My question is should I continue with all incline chest exercises or change up the routine?

I also like the upper chest exercises that John recommended and will give those a try as well.

mickieb May 17, 2010 at 7:34 am

Thanks for finally getting something on Resistant Bands! And it’s a favorable review! I find that using my bands seems at times like Im not doing “work”, but as the video clearly shows me, I AM! That video is awesome, BTW, I sure don’t use my bands that way! But will try to vary the exercises as the bands seem really effective this way! Bands are also really great because they are so portable. Pack them up in the suitcase and you have instant exercise in the hotel. Being creative with the bands makes them indispensable. Great article Rusty!

Constance May 17, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Hey Rusty,

I am using the second phase of your program. I have been doing back and chest one day and then shoulders and biceps the other. I don’t do tri’s because i do not want to increase their size. Would it be better to do back/bi’s and then Chest/shoulders the next day. I guess I have been doing it the current way to have push/pull each time. I was just wondering if it is okay to work this schedule on this phase or if it would be better to do it as layed out in the manual.

Thanks

admin May 17, 2010 at 4:24 pm

@ Eat Steak Lose Weight,

I just like the variety that resistance bands add. Plus I kind of like the idea you can travel with them.

@ Mike,

Cool…I will read that article.

@ David,

Yeah…building up a weaker body part is a tough deal. My toughest body part to build is the shoulders. We all of weak and strong points. Nice Squidoo lens by the way!

@ Farley,

It does make a lot of sense to use these as finishing moves. I was thinking the same thing…especially if “cumulative fatigue” training for mass was the goal.

@ Darrin,

I also like to measure my progress and free weights have that advantage (good point). Resistance bands still would be a good way to mix things up or use on a “light day”, etc.

@ Keith,

I think the biggest danger is a shoulder injury. I will try to hit the bar closer to my collar bone and possibly over time work my way higher. I think that is most likely the best strategy if you are going to do this lift…as well as lifting much lighter.

@ Chris,

I like the idea of walking forward as far as possible and doing presses from there…something you can’t really duplicate when your back is supported on a bench when pressing. Just something to throw into the mix.

@ Chris,

I will have to visit the site. I really like the idea of having something portable and easily adjustable.

@ John,

Yeah…I’ll have to try the combo with weights and bands. I like the idea of that and I could see how that would make a lift much harder. You have been posting some good stuff on your blog recently. High entertainment factor as well. I’m becoming a fan.

@ Eddie,

You want me to go to Tnation again? In the same week? Well, if I must. Obviously kidding…I will check that out. Bret is a smart guy and puts out amazing content (I just wish he had a better platform to publish his work).

@ Chris,

Zen to Fitness is still looking sweet. I have told you this before, but I believe you have the nicest looking and easiest to read blog online. Anyway, great to hear from you. I like the idea of using resistance bands to ease up on the joints a bit when lifting. I occasionally get slight wrist discomfort when doing bench presses…so this would be a way to maybe avoid some of the pain.

@ Carl,

Looks good. I will compare their product to Bodylastics.

@ Aaron,

Yeah…It is good to pull out of the gym rat mindset…I was there for a short period of time myself.

@ Raymond,

I talked about Taylor Lautner using resistance bands in my newsletter. I’m such a dork for using the popularity of New Moon to get website traffic, but I simply enjoy helping people get the look they are after. There is so much bad advice online, that I feel it is my duty to grab some of that Twilight traffic.

I ran out of time…will try and catch up on the rest of the comments later,

Rusty

Mike May 18, 2010 at 3:06 am

Not to plug t-nation anymore than we have to, but they just posted an article on the best ab exercises. I was surprised to see that chin-ups is a good core workout.

Stayfitcentral.com May 18, 2010 at 9:52 am

Using bands as part of your strength-training/muscle-building workouts have many advantages. A few I like are listed below.

1. They offer variable resistance throughout the movement. This means at different parts of the movement the exercise will be either harder or more difficult and make the exercise the same.

2. Easy to change resistance. All you have to do is lengthen or shorten the band to adjust the resistance.

3. Their great if you train at home. Bands don’t take up much space and only require a doorjamb of something sturdy to attach to to use.

4. They’re affordable. Quality bands only cost between $25 and $45 dollars.

5. You can do exercises for any body part. In addition to chest exercises they can be used to train your legs, arms, and back.

Curt

Mark May 18, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Hey Rusty,

Great post! I’ve been waiting for something on resistance bands for a while now. I’ll keep it short and sweet. Resistance bands have given me great gains for as long as I committed to using them, however weights and bodyweight stuff still have their place in my workout. They are complementary to each other, but never substitutes. You can build a great body using bands, but adding weights will fuel your progress. Just my two cents.

Doug May 18, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Darrin,

I would argue that resistance bands are much more convenient than free weights in regard to adjusting resistance levels.

Due to the strength curve of bands, small adjustments in starting position results in equally small adjustments in band resistance.

As well, in many lifts (ex. bench press, squat, deadlift) the lifter gets stronger towards the end of the lift. Resistance bands get progressively harder towards the end of the lift.

With that being said, there is something very satisfying about moving iron weights as opposed to pumping rubber bands

Doug May 18, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Bret Contreras has a ton of exercise videos on youtube – http://www.youtube.com/user/bretcontreras1

Kevin McMillian May 18, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Hey Rusty – I’d actually like to get your take on this chest blasting workout as you originally planned… at least the short version! I gave the squeeze press a try and it definitely hit the upper inner pecs nicely.

Thanks man, keep up the superb posts! Look forward to the next.

Kevin

Miguel May 19, 2010 at 1:50 am

Hey Rusty, first off all, I’d like to applaud you for this amazing blog. I used to get trapped in this psyche of big is better.

Right now I would pretty much say I’m happy with the way I look….I’m 5’10 and 162 lbs….I used to be 185 lbs (and I looked really fluffy like the michelin man..lol)

I just wanted to ask your regarding your past article on lifting light weights and low volume to get toned muscles. My current workout is similar to yours ( Day 1: Back Chest, Day 2: Shoulders, Bi’s Triceps) I pretty much lift heavy for around 5-10 reps, 2-3 sets per body part. And do HIIT cardio in between.I just read your article and was wondering what you meant by lifting ‘light’.

So you mean to say If, for example I usually do 80lbs with the EZ bar for dumbell curls for 5-10 reps….should I lessen the weight..to like, 50-60 lbs and lift with low reps?

I remember I had a shoulder sprain and could not bench my usual weight so I decided to lessen the weight and lift very slowly ( 5 seconds up, and 5 seconds down)….with this style I managed to complete only 7 reps with a lighter load, and I felt my chest was really worked with a lighter weight! Is this pretty much the same concept? I’m just paranoid if I do this technique of lifting that I’d loose the muscle I gained because I always read in bodybuilding sites that you should lift heavy to hold on to the muscle you have….correct me if I’m wrong though.

Just wanted to clarify things and more power to your amazing blog!thanks man!

Matt May 19, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Random Question that is fairly unrelated to the post. I’m following Rusty’s Visual Impact Program, and I have a lot of trouble with squats. I begin to cramp around my hamstrings like crazy after about the second or third set. I feel like I could do a lot more weight, but I just start cramping and really can’t do anything after that. In high school I used to deadlift and squat frequently with fairly heavy weight ( I played football)

Anyway, my thought was to go REALLY light for a couple weeks to get used to the stress. Then slowly increase weight. However, I don’t know if my problem is stretching or just lack of leg training over the past few years. I eat a lot of fruit… so I would think that I have plenty of potassium. Any advice? (Again sorry to post an unrelated question… I just know this is a hot post and informed people will be looking) Thanks!

Danielle May 19, 2010 at 12:36 pm

I agree about the roided out nature of Tnation… but you should definitely check out this workout from Velocity Life:
http://velocity.tmuscle.com/

Luke M-Davies May 19, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Great that you’re bringing the variety Rusty.

For me it is a no brainer – resistance bands are welcome into my workouts because they will add variety to pushing iron, or using bodyweight. I always think variety is a key component in making gains/improvements, so well worth a go!

gus May 19, 2010 at 6:40 pm

rusty.
what are your favoritte ore the best exersices to develop shoulder and chest width?
thx πŸ˜€

ted May 19, 2010 at 9:38 pm

hey Rusty im still working on dropping muscle mass…im at 189lbs and im trying to get to 170….i know you recommend steady state cardio for muscle loss but as far as diet goes im guessing i need to create somewhat of a protein deficit to cause muscle loss…so my question is if i should drop protein down to say 80 gms aday (two chicken breast) for awhile and make up the rest of my cals with good fats (avocados,mac. nuts, olive oil) since ill be using a low carb diet (below 50gm/day). Thank you

David May 21, 2010 at 12:09 am

This is a completely off the record question but I saw the 3 unique upper chest exercises that you sent and I was wondering if I should do DB Squeez Press instead of incline dumbell press or do them both?

Yuri Elkaim May 21, 2010 at 9:11 am

Great post Rusty. I’m also a huge fan of using bands. For those who don’t have weights, they’re a great start and I like using them with weights as well for “accommodating resistance” training – awesome pump!

Norbi May 21, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Great post Rusty! I’m not sure I care much for these half-scientific researches, but simple logical things like ‘resistance is resistance’, even if not 100% the same, should work one way or another sounds good enough for me. These look very useful though, as I’m one who has never been big on weight lifting, therefore certain lifts kind of ‘intimidate’ me (such as heavy bench press). Also, I could take these outside to the park and train there instead of being in a gym. Someone mentioned that bands are easier on the joints too – what do you think about that?

Usman May 22, 2010 at 3:33 am

Hey Rusty, another question. How should I incorporate the guillotine press to phase II of your virtual impact plan? John mentions on his blog to stay light on this exercise at it is very heavy on the shoulders. However, in phase II of your plan, you mention to increase the weight after successfully doing a 5×5 lift. I’m guessing to stay light since it is too much for the shoulders or should I switch to a different exercise? Thanks.

jeff May 24, 2010 at 1:02 am

residence bands work
dumbbells work
barbells work
body weight works
kettle bells work

Ralph May 24, 2010 at 4:55 am

I never really feel like I’m getting a good workout with bands. It may be my technique but free weights have been my go-to brand of strength training. I’ll give the bands another try though.

David May 26, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Rusty,

I had actually emailed you awhile back about your thoughts on resistance bands. (you’re a busy guy, I know.) Glad to see this is up! I have been using resistance bands for about 2-3 years now. I love them! I can work out at home but that can also be tough when the tv, computer and a fridge is so close. The reason I like bands is that you get terrific resistance going both directions when doing a move. My set came with a door nook so I can do almost any move that one could do in a gym.

To be honest, I agree with commenter Jeff: any tools you use will work. It’s how you use them and finding what works with your skill set and environment. Personally, bands are fantastic for apartment dwellers like myself and on a tight budget who can’t afford a gym membership.

Thanks again for a post about Resistance Bands!

Eric June 11, 2010 at 12:00 am

I like bands either on their own or hooked around barbells. High rep recovery. Finishers. Odd angle exercises and exercises that would otherwise require expensive high quality cable systems. Work outs on the go. Resisted stretching techniques. Just tons of uses.

I think moderate band tension is also a good way to teach lifters to stay tight, control the eccentric and explode on the concentric.

jason June 19, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Hey Rusty and all,
In regards to band training i know there is a pdf that covers the old time courses that floats around for free (i think it was Fatman of Bodyweight culture that made it) but aside from that and the “any movement you can do with weights ” school of using bands what are some other resources for band training?

arnell johnson June 22, 2010 at 3:20 pm

I am a firm beleiver in ressistance trainning,free weights, not to say that ressistance bands don’t work but to build big muscle you need big weight. If you just want to tone than ressistance bands are ok, but none of the above mean anything if your muscle is covered by fat.

Jamie June 23, 2010 at 12:51 am

I grew up in the weight room and never considered resistance bands. I did a round of P90X this year and was totally impressed with the resistance bands I used. They are as “heavy” as you want them and it’s no problem to exhaust your muscles. If you have a couple different levels to hook them on, I don’t think there is a muscle group you can’t hit hard. Nice post.

Tinie June 23, 2010 at 11:31 am

Hi Rusty
I’ve been reading your website for weeks and decided to start my diet as well as exercise a week ago. Thank for all the helpful information.

I am doing the Eat stop eat diet + interval skipping rope
5mins warm up
60s fast pace
20s slow pace + high knees
10s rest
do for 10 reps
then 15 mins jogging, 40 sit up and cool down.

I feel better and better each day but when I come across the Rapid fat loss diet, and some of your post about resistance training make me realized that what I need to do during the eat stop eat diet is resistance workout instead of skipping rope. Is it rite?

But my body store fat at the thigh, calf and arm, (I have a nice waist actually), I thought skipping rope everyday will help me tone my super big thigh and calf…….

I am confused….
Can you give me advices about this??
Thank a lot
Tinie

Tinie June 29, 2010 at 1:25 am

Hi again πŸ˜€
Cause I have a big prob with my thigh, so I come across this while searching internet yesterday, The Ultimate Leg Butt Hip and Thigh Makeover e-Manual and Bonuses. Here is the website http://www.lowerbodymakeover.com/

There are very little comments in his website, not like yours, so I dunno whether I should purchase it……….. like… just another scam…..
May you take a look and give me some advices?
Thank you
Tinie

jason August 7, 2010 at 11:11 am

Hi All.
I have been using the resistance bands training system with the p90x programme it works great, after 3 months of strick training regime i have seen my bidy transformed. I would love to thank http://www.suspensiontrainer.co.uk for the great product and service.

Go for it!

scott September 16, 2010 at 11:04 am

Yeah reistance bands rock! Especially when you can get free personal training for life along with them.

I will never go to a gym again!

I have been doing for 5 months. I love it. It is inexpensive and has programs for however you would like to transform your body. Whether you want to just get in shape and tone or want to build some muscles it is all included.

http://oceangrand.net/fitness/how

β€’ Fitness Expertise
β€’ Personal Training
β€’ Live Fitness Programs
β€’ Nutritional Instruction
β€’ Never Leave Your Home
β€’ Home Gym Included!

http://oceangrand.net/fitness/how

We bought the Mega Resistance Set which give you two of everything which worked perfect for my wife and I working out together or separately. We just thought that set was a better value for the money. You also get a Lifetime Membership with that set.

Something else that is cool is that it has specific programs for how you like to workout whether Strength Building, Kempo, Martial Arts, Ab Builder, Cardio, Tennis, Golf, Baseball, etc.

It is so inexpensive to get going in the program there is no risk. However, they have a 90 day satisfaction guarantee. We love it and would never give our set up or the bodies we have sculpted from them.

Eric Moss October 11, 2010 at 8:48 pm

body recognizes resistance…not the kind of equipment used. Elastic bands work very well but it can build strange grooves. One of the things I like doing is combining an elastic band (like a powerlifting band) and attaching it to my kettlebell that way you get the feel of a real weight and the added resistance at the top.

Eric Moss
(I’m not into the roided out body builder look either. I prefer having a more athletic proportional look and I like having a high level of strength to go along with it)

jf resistance training January 22, 2011 at 10:55 pm

I have done both weights an resistance bands (bodylastics) and I promise you that adding bands to your workouts will build you strength and muscle like nothing else. You don’t have to settle for either one because they both work the muscles in different ways which create muscle confusion and your body gets build like a rock. So bottom line neither one is better but a good combination of both will really help you to get to your goal fast.

robert February 2, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Hi,

If anyone is suffering from back pain the inversion table is great for back pain relief, its alleviated my back pain, decompressed my spine. Saying bye to back pain check it out http://www.inversiontableuk.com

saving money tips February 10, 2011 at 11:42 am

I’ve never tried using resistance bands in my workout. Perhaps diversity is the key to a ripped body.

keep fit February 13, 2011 at 7:11 pm

The great thing about resistance bands is that they are so easily transportable.

Inversion Table February 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I usually pack resistance bands in my suitcase when I’m travelling so that I can exercise in the car or in my hotel room.

inversion table reviews March 29, 2011 at 5:15 pm

I have weights and resistance bands, but find weights to be far superior. Finding good quality bands seems to be difficult, all the ones i had snapped after a few weeks (and cost over 50 dollars)

Janice Shirley April 1, 2011 at 8:47 pm

But if you’ve had 4 shoulder surgeries like I have, and the heavy free weights are killing my shoulders, the resistance bands are like heaven and will get my cut just fine.

Hyo April 18, 2011 at 4:29 am

All I use are resistance bands now for the following reasons:

1. Less wear and tear on my joints – at nearly 50, the warranty on all my joints seem to have run out.
2. Not being gravity based, I can adjust the start position of any movement.
3, With little ones running around, I don’t worry about leaving bb’s and db’s lying around – no little toes or knees banging into weights – just put everything away in a little pouch.
4. Mostly, I get a great, sweat bustin workout.

Free weights are great but other alternatives like resistance bands or bodyweight can get it done too (maybe not as well)

And to inversion table reviews, don’t know which +$50 bands you got that keeps snapping, but that shouldn’t be. Couple of decent makers out there you should look at. I’ve had my set for over a year now and bands are still strong.

schizandrol May 7, 2011 at 12:25 pm

I don’t worry about leaving bb’s and db’s lying around – no little toes or knees banging into weights – just put everything away in a little pou

Jason Pearson May 29, 2011 at 6:23 am

Using resistance bands are great, i supplement them with dumbbells but now they are part of my life. Training with resistance bands anywhere as they are so portable. I purchased them from http://www.suspensiontrainer.co.uk

Phantom Piney June 5, 2011 at 7:33 pm

I have bands and they work great. I use free weights and resistant bands and alternate between the two to confuse my muscles. Great investment in your health and I use Bodylastics resistant bands you should look into it on the web. πŸ™‚

Become nurse June 19, 2011 at 7:30 am

Which isn’t one thing I normally do! I enjoy reading a publish that will make folks think. Also, thanks for allowing me to remark

alex June 27, 2011 at 3:21 pm

you should check out JourneyGyms resistance band equipment. They have a portable suitcase with attached bands of assorted resistances.

flat stomach exercises July 21, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Resistance bands may be simple, but they really do work.

ElasticMan August 14, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Resistance bands work really well but some simply refuse to see that they do. We cling to what we know and cherish to the extent of blinding ourselves to other methods. Don’t forget that looks can be very deceiving….

David December 7, 2011 at 4:42 am

I use resistance bands in addition to free weights and have seen some good results. The massive amount of eccentric overload you can get with bands plus the increased ROM on a lot of exercises provides a nice change up to the regular routine.

Dude1984 December 15, 2011 at 4:13 pm

I have been using bands for a while. It wasn’t that long after I began using them that I went to use them exclusively. Bands on their own are really good. Combined with free weights they are awesome. When I go FW w/ RB, I go heavy bands with light to medium free weights.

With the bands that I use, they have a graph that shows resistance of each band for x amount of inches you move them. I emailed the manufacturer to get more details and they responded:
β€˜β€™To achieve the full resistance of our Fitness Cables you need to stretch the cable 2 times its resting length.
For example let’s say you are using a 5ft long R8 cable. To do an arm curl you would step on the cable with both feet. Let’s assume there would be about 1 foot of cable between your feet. This would leave 2 ft on either side going up to the handles.
To get the full 80lbs of the R8 cable you would need to now stretch the 2ft on each side to 4 ft by the end of the arm curl. So if you were able to freeze yourself at the point where your hand is up by your chin at the end of the arm curl the length of the cable from the handle to the floor would need to be 4ft long. This would mean each arm is doing 80lbs of resistance.’’

Based on rate of change, you would need to move the resting length 100% to get the full resistance amount.

brian December 28, 2011 at 9:18 am

If you get resistance bands make sure you buy ones that are multi layered and off a lot of resistance, the cheapo sets on ebay are rated falsley and offer little to no resistance unless you use them all at once. I recommend a look at the ElastiTone bands (google them), the best dam bands at a good price that you will find, they are awesome, offer up to 135.5 Kilos of resistance, and i have seen good results with them. If you can do 20 curls with the orange band they will refund all your money to! im up to 15 curls then my arms fail lol,

Tim February 22, 2012 at 6:40 am

I am a strong believer in resistance bands. I am no body builder, so I can’t say whether you can get “big” with them. That has never been my aim. At age 54, and with a few injuries received during 21+ years in the military, I was looking for a way to burn fat, gain strength and build what muscle mass I could. I picked up a set of Bodylastics bands about a year ago, and have been using them about 4 times a week ever since. I have never had a band break on me and I am absolutely amazed at the results. I have lost about 30 pounds of fat and put on 20 pounds of muscle. They are awkward at first, but you have to stick with them. Once you get comfortable with the routines, you start noticing results quickly. I will never pick up a weight again.

ElasticMan March 19, 2012 at 5:52 am

Lately I have been using the Lifelineusa chest expander. It has two handle grips that you can use three resistant bands with. I have found that doing exercises with these, i.e pulling them apart in various different forms to be much more challenging than any of my free weight routines such as flyes or benchpress. I also find that the bands offer a challenge all of the way throughout the exercise ROM and I can feel it in my chest.

BigBruvOfEnglandUK May 6, 2012 at 7:22 am

Great article. I am a big fan of elastic resistance and we have a message board devoted to the subject. I have posted a link to your article on our message board

tony January 18, 2013 at 6:24 pm

gorilla bands the best ive found these things are beast

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