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Opinion

4 Barbell Exercises You Should Try Adding Bands To

Take your standard barbell moves up a notch.

Resistance bands are one of my favorite training accessory tools. Not only can you stretch and train in multiple planes of motion  but adding them to barbell and dumbbell exercises challenges the muscle at the end of the motion where the weight feels the lightest.

Because the further the band stretches the greater the resistance which helps improve your lockout strength, especially in the vertical plane. And when added in the horizontal plane it helps improve technique and challenges core strength too.

If you are not adding bands to your training, you are missing out on all the fun.  

Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

[Related: 4 Dumbbell Exercises You Should Try Adding Bands To]

The Merits of Adding Bands 

Adding bands to dumbbells and barbells provides an underrated method in enhancing the effectiveness of free weight exercises: accommodating resistance.

Because bands improve the strength curve of free weight exercises by increasing tension at the strongest position (ie. lockout strength, when the weight feels its lightest) and decreasing tension in the weakest position (ie. at the bottom of a bench press).

But wait, there’s more.

It encourages you to use your fast twitch muscle fibers to blast through sticking points at lockout, so they help to increase your power and hypertrophy potential without the added stress of adding more plates.   

When added horizontally to deadlift or bent over row variations, the band forces you to engage your upper back to keep the bar close to you, which is pretty handy when you’re pulling heavy weight from the floor.

Here are 4 exercises you should consider adding bands to, to improve technique, lock out strength and train a little thing called the core.

Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it shouldn’t take the place of advice and/or supervision from a medical professional. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. Speak with your physician if you have any concerns.

1. RDLs With Horizontal Band Resistance 

Spice up your regular Romanian deadlifts and clean up your hinge technique with the horizontal band. The band encourages you to engage your upper back and lats, and to sit back into your hip hinge in order to keep the bar close to your body and maintain control and form.

Form Tips And Programming Suggestions

Deadlift the weight off the floor and then walk back to get your resistance from the band. 5-6 steps backwards should do the trick. Lower your usual weight on the bar as the band adds more resistance than you think.

This makes for a fantastic accessory exercise on deadlift or squat days. 2-4 sets of 6-12 reps is a good starting point.

[Related: 2 Ways Forward Banded Deadlifts Will Make You Stronger]

2. Bent Over Barbell Row with Horizontal Band Resistance

A common error when rowing is not having your shoulders down and back, known as scapular depression.  If the shoulders aren’t depressed, the lats will have trouble being fully engaged, which is the point of rows.

Furthermore, you’re in less than ideal posture too, creating further problems. A fix is adding a horizontal band. With the band pulling the barbell away from you, it forces you to retract and depress your shoulder blades while improving your posture. 

The band helps you get the best out of this fantastic exercise. 

Form Tips And Programming Suggestions 

Like the RDL, deadlift the weight of the floor and then walk back to get the band tight.  The band provides resistance on the concentric part of the lift, so using less weight is advisable.

This makes for a good accessory lift on deadlift or upper body days. 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps will have your lats on fire.

3. Band Resisted Standing Barbell Rollout 

Rollouts are a fantastic anti spinal extension exercise which strengthens the anterior core, lower back, and gluteus. (If you keep your glutes tense, You do, right?) If you’re looking to take rollouts to the next level, standing band resisted rollouts is a challenge you’ll enjoy.  

The band works you harder to overcome the resistance during the eccentric but will assist you on the way back up, making it a good regression exercise from regular standing rollout variations.

Form Tips And Programming Suggestions

Hip hinge your way down to the barbell.  Having smaller plates on the barbell makes this exercise more difficult, larger plates easier. No need to go crazy with the strength of the band. Start light until you nail your form.

This is a strength exercise and keeping the reps on the low side between 6-10 for 2-3 sets works well.

[Related: The Benefits of Ab Rollouts and Progressions You Can Try]

4. Landmine Unilateral Squat To Press With Band

Landmine pressing is a great alternative for lifters who have trouble going overhead and for those with beat up shoulders. Adding a squat with a band ups the ante and provides an extra challenge for lifters who struggle to lock out their press variations.

This variation doesn’t overload the legs, but the squat allows you to press more weight overhead than a strict press — it’s like a big push press or thruster, in other words — and that can be great for your strength or muscles building goals. Plus, squatting unilaterally will also expose any strength imbalances between sides.

Form Tips And Programming Suggestions 

Put the weight plates on before the band and snuggle the band next to the plates. Place the band under the middle of both feet and get into your squat position before bringing the barbell to shoulder level.

This is one movement, not two separate movements. As you’re rising from the squat is when you start the press. The squat to press is a full body power move so keeping the reps low, between 6-10 for 3-4 sets on each side works best.

Wrapping Up

Adding bands to barbells doesn’t only increase the intensity of the lift but is a great tool to correct technique flaws and strength imbalances. Plus, adding bands instead of plates provides variety and is a cost-effective way to add weight if you don’t have enough plates.

Piling on more plates is not the only way to get stronger. 

Featured image via Dr. Joel Seedman on YouTube

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