Trying to get strong or maintain your strength on the road? Maybe you’re injured and avoiding weights? Or perhaps you’re just bored and looking to mix up your training? Grab one of those giant rubber bands, because even though pull-up bands are generally used for stretching, rehab, and assistance, there’s plenty of strength to be gained as well.
Strongman and powerlifting coach Brandon Morrison may spend the majority of his time squatting large amounts of weight, but he knows power of accessory work and incorporates it into his training. One of his favorite exercises is the “MacGyver” tricep pushdown, which requires a PVC pipe and at least two resistance bands (more if you need a challenge). Hang the bands and thread the PVC pipe through them so it’s resting at chest level. Keeping your core tight and elbows in, press down on the pipe to activate your triceps, taking care to keep the PVC parallel to the floor.
While banded deadlifts do require a barbell and some bumper plates, it’s easy to keep the weight light and still get the strength-benefits while using bands. Simply drop the band over the barbell and use your feet to anchor it, but do take care to make sure the band is in the center in the middle of the foot. Get into your usual deadlift stance and perform a rep with gusto. The resistance causes the barbell to feel heavier at the top, so you’ll have to produce more force and accelerate faster to reach lockout. Banded deadlifts can also be done sumo style, and are a great way to reintroduce yourself back to lifting if you’ve been dealing with lower back injuries.
Made famous by American Ninja Warrior, the Invisible Ladder is an insane contraption that requires athletes to pump their arms upwards as if they were climbing a ladder. The Ladder requires an immense amount of upper body strength, stability, and grip strength.
Unless you’ve made it to the American Ninja Warrior stage, you’re probably not going to get to try the real thing, but you can get the strength benefits with a thick resistance band. Take the band and drape it around a pull up bar, and grab on to the loops on each end. While holding your body in an L-sit position (your core and hip flexors are will thank you), use your lats to alternate pulling on the band with each arm. Let the pain ensue.
Banded Push Ups
If you’re one of those (lucky) people who can bang out push ups all day long, you need to add a little resistance to your movement. If you’ve got a good friend around, you can ask them to throw a bumper plate onto your back, but if you’re alone, grab a band. Put your hands through the loop and wrap the band around your shoulder blades. If that’s still not enough, throw your feet into some straps and get fancy like Harrison Keller of HK Fitness in Seattle!
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