We’ve all seen them… just hanging on a hook or draped over equipment, looking more like colourful gym confetti rather than a powerful training tool. Perhaps you’ve even used them to stretch, help with pull-ups or even tie down weights (impressive!!!). However, the benefits and application of powerbands are huge and applicable to everyone. At BaiMed Performance we use and program powerband-based exercises on a daily basis; whether it's for an elite basketballer, a rehabilitation program post-surgery or for our youth development programs.
The How + Why
Now I could dive deep into the world of powerbands and talk of the ‘length-tension’ relationships of muscle and the possible use of powerbands to accommodate the strength curves of a lift and so on. But you might not get as pumped up about that stuff as I do (weird!!), so we’ll look at some of the basics that can easily be implemented into your training. Essentially the elastic properties of powerbands and their gradual load (lengthened) or unload (shortened) characteristics tie in very nicely with how our muscles work.
Powerband use can be sorted into two categories; Assistance or Resistance.
This is where bands are used to help the individual and generally help in the portion of the lift where the individual is at their weakest. Just think of how hard it is at the bottom of a squat, pull-up or push-up (where the prime mover muscles are lengthened) compared to the top of that movement. Applying powerbands in this instance can ASSIST the individual out of the harder section of the lift and can allow them to complete the rep and build strength and power through a greater range. Additionally, using bands as an assisting tool can be great for static and dynamic stretching.
The following are a few examples of how we apply powerbands to ASSIST with movement on a daily basis:
As you might have already guessed, using powerbands as a resistance tool is the opposite to assistance. When the individual is generally at their strongest in a lift or movement, powerbands can be used to add greater elastic load and challenge them. Using our previous example, adding load at the top of a squat, pull-up or push-up will make the exercise more challenging but resistance will decrease as they lower themselves into the movement. This approach is a great way to change up the loading mechanics of a lift and break through sticking points in an exercise.
Again a few examples of what we commonly use in our sessions:
Banded Monster Walks
Banded Good morning
*A key point to note is that powerbands allow us to train an individual in multiple planes and introduce rotational or anti-rotational elements to loaded exercises. Making them essential for athletes and transferring gym strength onto the field.
Although its only a very brief look into the world of Powerbands, hopefully I have you asking questions and provoking your creative juices to come up with ways to take your training to the next level and not just using them as decorative pieces or tie downs in the gym. Its also important to remember that if you have not used powerbands much (or at all) to start small and progress slowly or better yet ask around and get a coach or someone ‘in the know’ to give you a few tips.
Athletic Development Coach