Band Training Part 2: Regressing Body Weight Exercise
By John Gaglione
Relative body weight strength is very important for athletes as well as for overall health for the general population. Often times many athletes will start off and not be able to perform a proper pull up or even a proper push up. The crazy thing is sometimes even the BETTER athletes have poor relative body weight strength. Good athletes are very good at COMPENSATING in the sport if they have any short comings at all. Sometimes athletes and even trainers want to jump to the most ADVANCED progression like some of the chain loaded variations we discussed, but often times when athletes come to a trainer they are not ready for these progressions just yet.
Many times once a good athlete develops some relative body weight strength their performance will improve drastically. By improving strength on body weight exercises generally their movement will improve as a result as well. Relative body weight strength is very important for athletic performance as well as for overall health. When an athlete has very poor relative strength the programing can become very difficult for the trainer. By using bands we can REGRESS the exercises in order to still perform these fundamental movement patterns in our programming.
We can use bands to take off some the load in body weight exercises to make them easier for our athletes. This is very similar to the reverse band idea we talked about last week. The band will be set up above the athlete in order to take off some the load in the bottom position. This is a great way to work the pattern through a full range of motion for those aren’t strong enough to perform the exercise. You can use the same bands we discussed in last week’s article. We also like to use the gray cook bands for certain exercises as well.
A very common exercise in most training programs is the pull up. It is a great exercise to build upper back strength. Unfortunately even some fairly strong people have trouble doing pull ups. The reverse band pull up is a great way to build strength for the vertical pulling pattern. Some people may ask if there a difference between doing a reverse band pull up and a pull up machine and there is a substantial difference in the two exercises. Since bands are a form of accommodating resistance the band is helping the athlete the most in the bottom position and the least at the end range position. Essentially they are holding up their own body weight at the end range of the movement. This will help give more carry over to the pull up than using a regular pull up machine. The pull up machine takes off the same amount of load through the entire range of motion. Here is an example of a reverse band pull up. The bands can be used for a variety of other exercises such as push ups as well.
For other exercises we prefer to use a Gray Cook band for a variety of different exercises. The benefit of using the gray cook bands versus the jump stretch bands is that there is a pad on the band which makes it very comfortable for our athletes. Sometimes the band can really dig into the skin when using the jump stretch bands, which can make the exercise very uncomfortable. The other benefit to the cook band is that is can be set up on any door, which makes it a very versatile tool for training facilities and home gyms alike. The cook band works very well for lower body exercises. For very weak clients it can be used for squats and split squats.
The cook band can also be used to assist the athlete for single leg squats. The single leg squat can be very challenging strength and stability exercise. The assisted single leg squat is still a very challenging exercise and is an advanced progression for most people. As the athlete gets stronger they can us a thinner band. The thicker bands provide more assistance than the thinner ones. After a few weeks of training they can progress to a lighter band and eventually no band at all.
Bands are a great way to make exercises easier for our beginner athletes and clients. This allows them to keep good technique and train through a full range of motion. Eventually the athlete will progress to body weight and even loaded body weight exercises using this method. In general start off with 6 reps on and exercises and then build up to 8, 10, and eventually 12 repetitions. Once they can perform 12 repetitions with good form you can usually make the exercise hard by using a lighter bands.
Any questions on set up or other exercises using bands?
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Coach John Gaglione is a Sport Performance Specialist out of Long Island New York and the director of strength and conditioning for Plainedge High School’s Football and Wrestling Programs. An avid strength sport athlete John also competes in powerliftering and kettlebell strong sport competitions. If you would like to learn more about John you can reach him at www.gaglionestrength.com or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.