Tension: Build a Bigger, Stronger You With Resistance Band Training

Tension: Build a Bigger, Stronger You With Resistance Band Training If you want strength, size, and mobility gains from

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Table of contents :
Title Page
The Super Six
Other Useful Exercises
Adding Bands to Weight Training
How to Implement Bands in Your Training
Why Bands Are Awesome
Which Bands to Buy?
Final Thoughts
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Tension: Build a Bigger, Stronger You With Resistance Band Training

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TENSION Build a Bigger, Stronger You With Resistance Band Training

Scott O'Neill

Copyright © 2021 Scott O'Neill All rights reserved No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher. Cover design by: Craig O'Neill

CONTENTS Title Page Copyright Introduction Grips The Super Six Other Useful Exercises Adding Bands to Weight Training How to Implement Bands in Your Training Bracing Why Bands Are Awesome Which Bands to Buy? Final Thoughts References

INTRODUCTION It’s safe to say that anyone interested in health and fitness has recently considered training with resistance bands – for future readers, we’re currently in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and most gyms have been forced to close. There’s a wealth of information available online regarding how to use resistance bands. Unfortunately, most of it’s crap. It’s been written by people who don’t actually train with bands. They saw an opportunity to get some views and used their ‘expert’ status to present themselves as an authority. I’ve used bands regularly in my training for several years now. They’re one of my most valued training tools. If I had to choose, I’d rather have access to bands than dumbbells. Your body doesn’t know which tool you’re using to apply resistance. As long as you can challenge your muscles and engage progressive overload then the tool is irrelevant. You’ve possibly heard the maxim ‘resistance is resistance’. It’s true, but bands allow you to apply the resistance in ways that would be extremely difficult with conventional weight-based exercises. Bands are great and I want you to receive the benefits I’ve gained from them. If you apply the information in this book you will: ●

Dramatically increase your strength.

Get a massive upper back and shoulders.

Injury-proof your upper body.

The big difference between this and every other band training book is that I don’t try and replace conventional exercises. Bands give you access to some unique movements that are impossible with conventional equipment. We’ll focus on a handful of key movements that only need one band. I realise most people want access to the exercises straightway and don’t care about why bands work so well. With that in mind, the end of the book has optional sections discussing everything that makes bands awesome. If you

trust me and just want to train, you don’t need to read that bit. If you want to understand why bands are a training cheat-code then check out that section. The exercises I’m going to introduce have been used for decades by strand pullers – the name given to people who train with chest expanders. They have their own terminology but I prefer more explanatory names. I’ll tell you both the name strand pullers use and what I call them. You can choose which you prefer.

GRIPS There are four main ways we will be gripping the band. They all have their uses and I encourage you to try each exercise with a variety of grips. I’ll recommend my favourite, but you might find that you get a much better mind-muscle connection with a particular grip.

Supinated Grip

Supinated Grip = palms facing up

Pronated Grip

Pronated Grip = palms facing away

Palm-Out Grip

Palm-Out Grip

Palm-Through Grip

Palm-Through Grip

THE SUPER SIX The majority of your band training will revolve around six very simple exercises. Simple is good. Less time spent learning the exercise = more time spent making gains! This isn’t designed to be done with a light band for super high reps; it’s possible to do these exercises for heavy singles. As a general rule, I recommend focusing on rep ranges between 5–20. As the bands are elastic it’s important that you brace properly. If you aren’t tight when working with heavy resistance bands, you’ll get violently pulled into dangerous positions. I’ll talk more about bracing later, but in short: take a big breath and keep everything tight.

Exercise 1: Band Pull-Aparts (Front) / Front Chest Pull It’s as simple as it sounds: ●

Grip your band with a supinated grip.

Hold the band at chest height in front of you.

● Keep your arms straight and pull the band apart until it’s fully stretched. ● For extra work, try to finish with a ‘proud chest’. You should feel it in your thoracic spine. ●

Return to the start position under control.

Band Pull-Aparts (Front) start position

Band Pull-Aparts (Front) end position

You should also try this exercise with a pronated grip. I prefer a supinated grip as I get a much stronger mind-muscle connection than the pronated grip. However, a pronated grip makes the exercise much easier. It’s easy to do this exercise incorrectly and receive very little benefit. There are two common mistakes.

Mistake #1 is rushing the reps. You need to ‘feel the muscles work’. Start with a very light band and focus on initiating the movement from your upper back. Control the negative. Don’t bounce your reps – that adds extra load to your tendons which is a terrible idea if you’re just starting out. Mistake #2 is bending your arms. If you bend your arms you make the exercise much easier. Keep them straight.

Exercise 2: Band Pull-Aparts (45°) Imagine that when you hold a band at chest level the angle is 0°. Holding your arms directly overhead is 90°. For this variation on the band pull-apart, we’ll be working in the middle of those two ranges, approximately the 45° position. ●

Grip your band with a supinated grip.

Hold the band at the 45° position in front of you.

● Keep your arms straight and pull the band apart until it’s fully stretched. ●

Return to the start position under control.

Band Pull-Aparts (45°) start position

Band Pull-Aparts (45°) end position

This is the hardest of the exercises to develop a strong mind-muscle connection on. The supinated grip makes it a lot easier to feel the contraction on this. Once again, start slow and light. Each repetition should involve a forceful contraction of your upper back.

Exercise 3: Band Pull-Aparts (Overhead) / Overhead Downward Pull You’ll want to start very light on this exercise. If you progress resistance too quickly your traps and neck will get extremely tight. I jumped to the heaviest band I could and turning my head was painful for several days. Learn from my mistakes! ●

Grip your band with a palm-out grip.

Hold the band overhead.

● Keep your arms straight and pull the band apart until it’s fully stretched – you’ll end with the band touching your upper back. ●

Return to the start position under control.

Band Pull-Aparts (Overhead) start position

Band Pull-Aparts (Overhead) end position

Exercise 4: Behind The Back Band Pull-Aparts (45°) This is very similar to the 45° Band Pull-Apart, except it’s done behind the body. Imagine that when you hold a band behind your body at chest level the angle is 0°. Holding your arms directly overhead is 90°. For this variation on the band pull-apart, we’ll be working in the middle of those two ranges, approximately the 45° position. This is the most difficult position to find your groove in. Any instability in your shoulders will be exposed. The band will try and pull you out of the 45° position. Luckily, it won’t take long for you to develop the stabilising muscles required. ●

Grip your band with a palm-out grip.

Bend your arms and move the band behind you.

Straighten your arms and lift the band so it’s about the 45° position.

● Keep your arms straight and pull the band apart until it’s fully stretched – you’ll end with the band touching your upper back. ●

Return to the start position under control.

Behind The Back Band Pull-Aparts (45°) start position

Behind The Back Band Pull-Aparts (45°) end position

Exercise 5: Behind The Back Band Pull-Aparts / The Whippet This is one of my all-time favourite exercises for building flexibility and mass through the entire upper back. As you gain familiarity with the movement you can relax or actively pull yourself deeper into this position for dramatic increases in upper body flexibility. This is probably the position you’ll be strongest in. ●

Grip your band with a palm-out grip.

Bend your arms and move the band behind you.

● Straighten arms and lift band so it’s about chest height. ● Keep your arms straight and pull the band apart until it’s fully stretched – you’ll end with the band touching your upper back. ●

Return to the start position under control.

Behind The Back Band Pull-Aparts start position

Behind The Back Band Pull-Aparts end position

You might see people doing this exercise with a much bigger range of motion – bringing their arms together in front of them. I’d argue it’s unnecessary. We

spend most of our lives moving our arms in those ranges. Furthermore, it’s by far the easiest part of the movement. If you particularly want to do it, go for it, but it’s not going to add much to your training.

Exercise 6: Behind The Back Band Lateral Raise I used this exercise to rehab a shoulder injury I acquired from too much benching. It is fantastic for building strength in end-ranges, prehab, and rehab. You can think of this as another pull-apart variation if you prefer. I like to think of it as a lateral raise due to my experience in the weight room. ●

Grip your band behind you with a supinated grip.

● Actively stick your chest forward and draw your shoulders back. ● Keep your arms straight and pull the band apart until it’s fully stretched – you’ll end with the band touching your upper back. ●

Return to the start position under control.

Behind The Back Band Lateral Raise start position

Behind The Back Band Lateral Raise end position

OTHER USEFUL EXERCISES This section will introduce several other exercises that are worth doing if you’ve got access to shorter bands or want to replace some conventional gym exercises.

True Archer Pulls For this exercise, you require a mini band. It’s inspired by the way that Archers have trained throughout the ages. They practiced drawing bows with progressively heavier draw weights. To give you some context of just how strong historical archers were, consider the following: a modern Olympic bow has a draw weight of approximately 18kg/40lbs [1]. The most extreme draw weight I can find referenced is the historical bows used by the Mongols. These had a draw weight of approximately 75kg/166lbs [2]. Don’t forget that the Mongols were firing these bows multiple times in quick succession from horseback. It’s safe to say the strength limit on this exercise is high. It’s ideally suited as a long-term training exercise as you can progress it for several years and it uses lots of muscles simultaneously. ●

Grip your mini band like you’re holding a bow.

● For muscle building, actively reach your leading hand forward. ● Keep your front arm straight and pull the band back until your hand reaches your ear. ● Return to the start position under control.

True Archer Pull start position

True Archer Pull end position

There is one common mistake that you want to ensure you avoid. When you are drawing the band back there is a tendency for untrained individuals to use

their arm as the primary mover. This is incorrect and will limit the maximum weight you can pull. Instead, you need to focus on pulling using your upper back/scapula. Your arm is still involved but the primary mover will be your upper back. Stick with a light band while you develop the required mindmuscle connection.

Bent Over Rows In my opinion, you’ll find it easier to progress rows with conventional weights and/or a cable stack. However, if you don’t have access to those then this is a good alternative. It’s similar to a bent-over dumbbell row. ● Hold the ends of your band and lay the middle on the floor. ● Step one foot onto the band. ● Grab the two band ends with the opposite hand. E.g. Left foot on band, right-hand grabs. ● Step back with your other foot and create a stable base. ●

Brace against your knee with your offhand.

Row the band – think elbow into the back pocket.

Return to the start position under control.

Bent Over Row start position

Bent Over Row end position

Seated Rows This is the best alternative exercise to the seated row at a cable stack. Due to the strength curve, I only find this exercise useful as a finisher. If you try to increase the resistance it quickly becomes impossible to complete a repetition. Throw this in towards the end of a session if you want a quick back pump. ●

Assume the ‘long sitting’ position – legs out in front of you.

● Grip your band with a palm-through grip. ●

Bend your legs enough that you can throw the band over your feet.

Straighten your legs and row.

Seated Row start position

Seated Row end position

If you’re not flexible enough to do this with straight legs then keep a gentle bend. It’s supposed to be an upper back exercise, not a lower back stretch.

Band Dislocates If you don’t have amazing shoulder flexibility then this is the exercise for you. ● Grip your band in front of you with a palm-out or pronated grip (the ideal grip will depend on your flexibility). ● Keep your arms straight. ● Lift your arms overhead. ● Actively shrug up at the top. ●

Continue down until the band touches your glutes.

Reverse the process.

Band Dislocates start position

Band Dislocates end position

It is possible to do the exercise without the shrug at the top but you’ll be removing a lot of the benefits. It’s also worth noting that when it becomes too easy with the band, it’s a fantastic exercise to do with a broomstick.

Band Good-Mornings While bands are fantastic for training your upper body, they are very limited when it comes to the lower body. The best leg exercise with bands is without a doubt the band good-morning. Due to the strength curve, you’ll probably find more benefit by focusing on high reps. It doesn’t lend itself to heavy low-rep work. ● Hold one end of a band and place the other end on the floor. ● Step on top of the band, squat down, and lift it around your neck. ● Flex your glutes and brace. ● Hinge at the hips to initiate the movement – a small bend in the knees is fine if flexibility is an issue. You should feel a hamstring stretch. ● Continue until you reach the end of your range of motion – don’t round your lower back. ● Drive up to the start position focusing on a hamstring and glute contraction.

Band Good-Morning start position

Band Good-Morning end position

Other Exercises There are myriad exercises you can do with bands. I’m sure someone is wondering why I haven’t mentioned curls, tricep extensions, or their personal favourite exercise. Quite simply, I don’t think they offer enough value. Band curls aren’t terrible, but they aren’t going to get you impressive results. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of every possible band exercise; rather, it’s a curated list of the exercises that give you the most bang for your buck. Everything mentioned above is tried and tested. If you have an exercise you enjoy that I didn’t discuss, of course, you should keep doing it.

ADDING BANDS TO WEIGHT TRAINING In today’s environment, this is the most common way that band training is employed. You’ll have seen videos of people doing squats or benching, with resistance bands adding additional load to the bar. The bands will be anchored near the ground and looped onto the bar. This is a great way to modify the strength curve of the exercise. It will make it easier at the bottom of the movement as the band is slack. Then, as the lifter works through the range of motion, the band gets stretched and the tension will increase. Everyone is weaker in the deep portion of a squat than towards the lockout. I’m sure you’ve experienced it, you get to a certain point in the lift and it becomes MUCH easier. Using bands as described above will allow you ‘maximise’ your training. If you find the appropriate band tension then you’ll be able to make the entire range of motion equally challenging.

Explosive Work The next most popular use of bands in training is explosive work. The nuances of programming successful explosive work are beyond the scope of this book. In short, you use a lighter weight and attach a relatively light band so you can move quickly. You do your reps with the goal of being explosive throughout. After a few weeks, you remove the band and you can now complete the exercise much faster.

In(Stability) Work This is something that's not spoken about very often. It’s probably the way I use bands most often in conjunction with weights. Rather than anchoring the bands to the ground, you’ll loop the band through a plate or kettlebell and attach it to the barbell.

The hanging weights make the entire exercise very unstable. This is great as every small movement will be exponentially magnified. Every little wobble causes the hanging plates to bounce. You have to get everything extraordinarily tight to avoid losing control. When you first try this you’ll be flexing everything – say hello to a ridiculous pump! It’s a novel stimulus for most trainees which will result in growth. Not only will your primary movers grow, but small stabiliser muscles that don’t normally do much get involved. A few weeks of instability training will have these small stabilisers firing hard. You’ll notice the difference when you return to straight weight.

HOW TO IMPLEMENT BANDS IN YOUR TRAINING I encourage you to experiment and find what works best for you. However, I’m going to offer a few basic routines that you can use as a base.

Progression I’m going to use the ‘sets x reps’ convention. If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend trying this progression scheme: 1. Pick a band that you can easily get 3x10 to start with. Really focus on developing a strong mind-muscle connection with each rep. 2. Over several weeks, gradually add reps until you're doing 3x20 Due to the strength curve, it doesn't feel like a 20 rep set with weights. 3. Begin the process again with a heavier band. If you run out of heavier bands, you have two options. First, you can do your reps more explosively. This will put much more stress on your tendons and connective tissue so it needs to be progressed slowly. Alternatively, you can do the exercise with two bands at the same time. This can add a small grip challenge to the exercise too.

Doubled up bands

Injury/Pain I’ve said for several of the exercises that you should keep your arms straight throughout. This will set you up for better long-term results as you’ll develop very strong tendons. Unfortunately, tendons take a lot longer than muscles to recover. You’ll reach the point where your muscles can physically do more, but your tendons aren’t strong enough to handle the load. As an interesting aside, this is why so many steroid users end up with injuries. They’ve gained muscle so rapidly that their tendons can’t keep up. Depending on your training background, you might get sore elbows as you work through the progression. This is normal and you shouldn’t be worried. All it means is you need to slow down the progression slightly. I recommend dropping to an easier band and maintaining that for 3–4 weeks. Blood flow aids recovery immensely, so doing a lighter workout to drive blood to the painful area is ideal.

The Quickie: Minimalistic Band Training If you want the most bang for your buck, it’s got to be the Super Six. Doing this alone will do wonders for your strength, size, and mobility. The best part is it’ll take you less than 15 minutes.

Band Pull-Aparts (Front).

Band Pull-Aparts (45°).

Band Pull-Aparts (Overhead).

Behind The Back Band Pull-Aparts (45°).

Behind The Back Band Pull-Aparts.

Behind The Back Band Lateral Raise.

Aim for 3 days a week – Mon, Wed, Fri, would work perfectly. You want to have at least one day of rest between sessions. Start with an easy band and follow the progression outlined above.

Replace The Gym: Home Workout – Full Body Band Training It’s worth pointing out that bands alone won’t target everything in your body. Your quadriceps and lower-leg won’t be getting much stimulus. No band exercise adequately targets these areas. As such, I’m going to suggest you add a BW squat to the routine. Do ‘The Quickie: Minimalistic Band Training’ but follow it with: ●

Band Good Mornings.

True Archer Pulls – see below.

Bodyweight squats 3x? – Aim to add reps weekly, it’s not optimal but better than nothing.

● Row Variation – If you’ve still got energy left over, 3x20+. The True Archer Pulls are one exercise I recommend a different rep scheme for. It lends itself to max effort work. As such, if you’ve got enough bands I recommend pyramid training: ●

Easy band – 1x10

Medium band – 1x5

Hard band – 1x3 (add reps till your doing 1x6, then restart with a harder band) ● Medium band – 1x5 ● Easy band – 1x10

Gym Bro: Gym + Bands This is the easiest to implement. You’re going to throw in some band work at the beginning and end of your gym sessions. Every second month, add bands to one of your main exercises for a month. This can be either band resistance or instability training. Add a very light run-through of the Super Six to your warmup. Then you’ll do some actual work with one or two exercises at the end of your session. As you’ll already be fatigued your progress will be much slower. Due to the strength curve of the band exercises, this shouldn’t affect your recovery very

much. For illustration purposes, I’m going to assume you train 3 days a week. Add the following to the end of your session. Follow the progression outlined earlier. Mon: ●

Band Pull-Aparts (Front).

Band Pull-Aparts (45°).

Wed: ●

Band Good Mornings.

Behind The Back Band Lateral Raise.

Fri: ●

Band Pull-Aparts (Overhead).

Behind The Back Band Pull-Aparts (45°).

Behind The Back Band Pull-Aparts.

BRACING During your first few months of training with bands, you’ll notice huge improvements in your ability to brace well. The better your bracing ability the stronger you’ll be. Why? The principle of irradiation; a muscle can contract harder if you flex the surrounding muscles really hard. You can test this right now by flexing your bicep. Now, make two fists and try again. Most likely you were able to flex harder in the second case. Learning bracing patterns takes time. It’s also position dependent – there’s some carryover between positions, but as you’ll be recruiting different muscles in each position, each will improve at different rates. You want every muscle as tight as possible. Note that you also need to relax certain muscles enough so you can complete the movement. That’s the difficult part of bracing. Some general guidance on getting tight: ● Big breath – if it’s a low rep set, hold it, otherwise, controlled breaths through your nose. ●

Flex your abs.

Flex your glutes.

It’s worth occasionally trying the super six with a heavier resistance than you usually work with; a heavy single or double is a great training aid. This will force you to generate the appropriate tension. The more often you do this, the tighter you’ll be able to get, and the stronger you’ll be.

WHY BANDS ARE AWESOME I’m now going to give a very brief overview of the thought process supporting band use. This is not an exhaustive literature review. There are a huge amount of studies available online if you want to do further research. The goal of this section is to let you understand why band training works so well.

Modified Strength Curve We’ve already touched on this when discussing adding bands to conventional gym exercises. The strength curve is a way of talking about which part of an exercise is hard and easy. Let’s consider a conventional back squat. The hardest bit of the exercise is when you’re at the bottom of the squat. Getting ‘out the hole’ is everyone's weak point. As you get nearer lockout, the exercise gets easier. Adding bands lets you change this. Depending on the size of the band you choose, you can keep the exercise the same difficulty throughout. Or if you want, it’s also possible to make the lockout harder by using very large bands. Instability training can also apply here. The ‘bounce’ of the hanging weights adds new demands to the exercise. If your movement pattern is a little jerky, the bands will exploit that and force you to work much harder in the jerky bit. Why is this a good thing? There are a few reasons. The most important is that it overcomes the biological law of accommodation. Zatsiorsky is known for introducing this to the strength training world. In short, it’s the idea that over time your body will stop responding to a stimulus. It’s why your progress eventually stalls when doing the same exercise for a long time. Modifying the strength curve lets you overcome the biological law of accommodation. The banded barbell squat is similar enough that it has huge

amounts of carryover to a conventional barbell squat. However, it’s different enough that your body will continue to adapt. This is ideal as your technique should stay very similar regardless of how you modify the strength curve. Meaning, you can use different band tensions and keep making progress.

Weighted/Loaded Stretching What exactly is weighted stretching? The simplest definition is that weighted stretching is putting a muscle into a lengthened position whilst under load. The load doesn’t require extra weight. It’s possible to find BW positions where gravity adds the load. Most protocols suggest entering the end range of motion and holding for 30–120 seconds. You can apply this to most exercises but some are going to be both safer and easier than others. Adding weight to common exercises is one easy approach. Imagine holding an isometric contraction in the bottom position of a dumbbell fly. You’ll slowly sink into the end range and then hold for a count of 30. Another approach is getting into bodyweight positions where your muscles are actively engaged. An example of this is holding at the lowest part of a dip. Due to gravity pulling you down the position is loaded. Note: You’re not limited to isometric holds. It’s possible to do reps as long as you end up in a deep stretch. Assuming you’re paying attention, you’ll already be thinking about how this applies to band training. Lots of the band exercises are actively pulling you into a deep stretch. Consider the behind the back pull-apart; the band is actively pulling your arms together and you experience an intense stretch in your upper back. Once you understand the concept, you can take almost everything you know about strength training and apply it to loaded stretching. Sets, rest periods, and progressive overload all apply. There are three main variables you can progress in loaded stretching: ● Resistance – Use a heavier band to increase the resistance. You get pulled into a deeper stretch. ●

Time – Increase the time you hold the position.

ROM – Keep the resistance the same and increase the range of

motion. Now that you understand the basic concept let's talk about the reasons you might want to try it.

Reason 1: It builds muscle fast The muscle-building effects of loaded stretching have a tremendous amount of evidence behind them. One of the earliest studies on the topic is the iconic bird study [3]. A group of quail were selected and had 10% of their total mass attached to their rightwing. The weight was attached for 24 hours. They then had a few days to recover before the weight was reattached. Imagine having 10% of your weight strapped onto your arm for an entire day! The birds accumulated 5 total days of stretch time and the results were then investigated. The results showed an increase of 16% in anterior latissimus dorsi muscle fibres. In other words – the birds got jacked. You can imagine how this excites bodybuilders! Obviously, this study doesn’t translate exactly to humans. It does however offer an exciting look into the possibilities of loaded stretching. The huge success in birds inspired many human studies. The results are in: loaded stretching builds muscle fast in humans. Now, before you get overly excited, I want to point out that the results aren’t as freaky in humans. It's much faster than many other methods but you’re not going to be bursting out your shirts in a week. The efficacy of loaded stretching for muscle growth comes as a result of increased mTOR production – mTOR is the ‘mammalian target of rapamycin’. Jonathan Migan of Team 3D Alpha describes it as a signalling molecule that can be best understood by thinking of it as a torch. Wherever is illuminated by mTOR will have an increase in protein synthesis and related anabolic processes. Both duration and intensity will increase the strength of the response. In practical terms, this means that you can add a few loaded stretches to your current routine and boost mTOR in the target muscle. Remember, more mTOR equals more gains. Even if you don’t want to commit to band training,

this is the perfect tool to throw-in at the end of your session to make your training more productive.

Reason 2: Injury Prevention Think about what loaded stretching actually is; you’re taking your muscle to the very limit of its range of motion and then applying a load. Progressing loaded stretching too quickly is dangerous. It will lead to injury. Loaded stretching that allows time for adaptation to occur will turn you into a beast. Both muscles and tendons are going to get strong in the stretched position. Think about the majority of sports injuries... how do they occur? It’s often a result of someone ending up in a position they’re weak in and flexing hard. To paraphrase Dr. Andreo Spina of FRC, ‘when a load placed on a muscle exceeds its capacity, injury occurs’. Most strength training neglects the endranges as we’re weaker there. Unfortunately, real-life demands don’t always let you stay in the safe ranges. If you never train in the end-ranges, what happens when you have to perform there? Yup, a one-way ticket to snap city. Loaded stretching offers the solution to that problem. You’re building capacity in the end-range of the tissue. Over time, you can build up the capacity so much that you become unbreakable! That’s possibly a slight exaggeration, but you will definitely feel that way. Injuries will become significantly less likely. Any injuries that you do sustain will be greatly reduced in severity. ‘Load > Capacity = Injury’ This is also going to carry-over to your training. Strengthening the end ROM will enable you to handle heavier resistance. Stronger tendons let you tolerate greater volume than ever before.

Reason 3: Fast Mobility Gains This is closely linked to injury prevention. Your body has several protective mechanisms. It will stop you from going into end-ranges or generating too much force because it thinks they are unsafe. It makes sense; it would be terrible if you accidentally flex so hard that you tear the tendon from the

bone. Unfortunately, these protective mechanisms are very conservative. By getting stronger in the end-ranges, you’re teaching your body that these are safe ranges. It quickly learns that it won’t tear where it thought and increases the ROM you have access to. As an added bonus, loaded stretching is very similar to weight training. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend 30 minutes doing boring stretches. When you do loaded stretching it feels similar to a heavy strength workout.

Straight Arm Strength There’s a reason that so many of the exercises have ‘straight arms’ as a key technique point. It lets you develop a unique strength attribute as it puts tremendous pressure on your tendons, ligaments, and joints. Gymnasts are famous for having huge amounts of straight arm strength – it's a key feature of many of the trademark gymnastic moves. You can take an elite level powerlifter and chances are they will have terrible straight arm strength. Being a monster in bent arm strength doesn’t transfer over. It takes focussed work, over a long time to build up all the connective tissue. Luckily, there is a lot of carryover in the other direction. If you get super strong at straight arm strength, you’ll be very strong at bent arm movements too. How does that make sense? Training straight arm strength teaches you how to recruit a lot of muscle fibres simultaneously. Let’s think about the behind the back pull-apart again. If your arms were bent you could do a lot of the movement with your triceps. By keeping your arms straight, you’re forced to direct tension through your arms and complete the movement using your upper back. The more you practice this, the easier it’ll become. Hebb’s rule states that “cells that fire together, wire together”. Over time the link between your muscles will strengthen. Eventually, you’ll automatically use lots of fibres together regardless of the exercise. This is how straight arm training unlocks ridiculous strength gains.

Overspeed Eccentrics

Gravity is the force that governs most of our training – whether the resistance is provided via external weight or our bodyweight. Our bodies are used to this; the majority of exercises we do will involve gravity as part of the eccentric. As bands store elastic tension, they offer a way to produce forces greater than would be possible with gravity alone. Think about a barbell squat with additional band tension. As you stand up, the tension on the band is increased, this builds potential energy that is ready to be unleashed as you begin the eccentric. The band is actively pulling you down as it wants to return to its shortened state. Depending on the band tension this can make the eccentric significantly faster than gravity alone; this novel stimulus translates into ridiculous gains.

WHICH BANDS TO BUY? If you’re thinking about buying a set of bands and are overwhelmed by choice, don’t worry! In my experience, most bands are going to be of similar quality. The one thing I would stress is that you want to ensure you buy the ‘loop style’ band rather than the ‘tube style’. The handles on tube style seem to regularly break.

Loop style band

If you stick with the loop style you’ll find that the quality is pretty consistent regardless of brand. I’d recommend hopping on Amazon and buying the cheapest you find that has decent reviews. The brand I purchased no longer exists. When I bought them they were the cheapest option and they’ve lasted me several years. One difference you will find is the length of bands. Ultimately, as long as you’re under tension throughout the movement the size doesn’t matter. As I’m sure some readers will ask about my bands... Long bands: 40 inches long Short bands: 13inches long As long as they are of similar length, then you’ll get a similar training effect. The strength curve might be slightly different based on band or limb length, but it isn’t going to change the long-term effects of training.

FINAL THOUGHTS Bands are a worthwhile addition to your training. You can use them as a replacement or a supplement to conventional weight training. If you don’t have any experience with band training, I recommend starting with the super six for a few months and then reevaluate how things are going. Regularly following the guidance outlined in this book will lead to strength, muscle, and mobility gains. Good luck – I’m hopeful that you’ll enjoy band training as much as I do.

REFERENCES [1] https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/08/what-is-all-that-stuff-a-closerlook-at-an-olympic-quality-bow/ [2] http://www.coldsiberia.org/monbow.htm [3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7713826/ P.S. If you've found the information in this book useful, please take the time to leave a review. It’s extremely helpful and I appreciate each one! Also, I know that some people will have acquired this book without paying for it. I get it, not everyone’s in a position to pay. If you’re one of these people, please help me out by recommending the book to a few people. Cheers!