Resistance bands were originally used for exercise and over the last 10 years they are now used frequently in training and rehabilitation.
They are effective in increasing strength and power and are a big tool of mine when it comes to boosting strength in certain parts of the lift. Obviously the stronger the resistance the harder the lift is, depending on the tension you put through the band, but I have found that its important to gradually increase the resistance and gradually increase your repetitions as its easy to exhaust your central nervous system (CNS).
For deadlifts I use them to either boost my acceleration and power from the floor to the knee, or boost my lower back strength at lock out. Likewise I use them for reverse band deadlifts to work on heavy deadlifts and from the floor to work on my strength on the lock out stage.
For squats I use them particularly at light weights to working on endurance, or increasing the strength and power in my sticking points of the lift. I also use them in a reverse form so they reduce the load at the bottom of the lift which means i can increase my eccentric strength and use heavier loads when squatting. I also use chains but they don't have the flexibility that bands have.
Shown below is myself using resistance bands during the squat with a safety bar to increase lower back activity and the resistance is set at my sticking point.
I have used a lot band work to boost my upper body strength particularly on shoulder press and bench. I use the resistance to boost my lockout strength, core strength and work through my sticking points. I tend to use these in a squat rack as i can control the resistance and at what point and i can control the direction of pull. As a physio i have utilised resistance bands in the bench press to not only work at weak parts but to help stimulate rotator cuff activity to reduce pain and enable the movement (As shown below).
There is a lot of strong evidence behind the use of resistant bands and its use in training and rehabilitation. The majority of literature suggests that resistance bands are only effective when their resistance is 30% or more of your working weight.
E.g. If your 1RM is 100Kg and your working at 80% of that 1RM, the actual weight of the bar should be 50-60Kg and the remainder of the load comes from the bands.
For power and strength training you ideally need to work with resistance upwards of 80% of your 1RM but with resistance bands this allows you to work with 50-80% of your 1RM and use the bands to make up the difference. Working at these weights means you can increase your power through range and work at a higher % of your 1RM with out exhausting your CNS.
A few tips for when working with resistance bands are:
- To set the resistance band up from your warm up set and to increase the weight on the bar. This will reduce your risk of injury by increasing your joint and muscle proprioception as well as improve your workout and ensure you get the best out of the resistance bands.
- Increase the weight slowly as the resistance will creep up quickly as you start putting more weight on the bar.
- Stick at for at least 6 weeks
- At the end of the exercise i usually take the bands off the bar and work on reps for 1 or 2 sets to work on endurance.
- If you use bands to work on the endurance aspects of the exercise, make sure you lift the heavy lifts first. Start using light resistance and build it up gradually over gym sessions (Beware of overtraining).
- Dont forget to use them in reverse to help you work on lockouts at heavier weight. This is helpful for joint proprioception and improving your CNS when lifting heavy loads. (Might sound silly but don't do this on your own.)
I mostly like resistant bands as there is lots of variability with both physical training and rehabilitation. Hope this helps.