5 “Chaos” Band Exercises to Add Instability to Your Workout

Wibbly, wobbly, chaos movements can help improve stability and balance.

When you hear the word “chaos,” it usually means all hell has broken loose. It has a negative connotation.

But way back in 2005 James Smith of Diesel Strength & Conditioning came up with the Chaos push-up by looping a resistance band around a squat rack and turning a relatively stable exercise into an unpredictable one.

And now chaos — in the gym — is a good thing.

Chaos band training is a great method to add instability and intensity to an exercise without resorting to circus tricks on a stability or BOSU ball.

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What Is Chaos Band Training?

It’s way of adding instability and unpredictability to an exercise by adding a looped resistance band.

You can do this in 3 ways.

  1. Adding a weight to a fixed barbell that is ‘suspended’ by looped bands.
  2. Looping bands around a fixed weight. For example, kettlebell or weight plates.
  3. Looping band around a squat rack at varying heights.

Note: The use of stronger looped bands are advisable here.

Benefits of Chaos band training

  • The instability of this type of training works great for additional rotator cuff recruitment
  • Adds more core stability and control to each exercise
  • Chaos band training activates the bodies smaller stabilizers (shoulder, core and hips) while improving proprioception
  • If you’re an athlete, on-field movements will include unpredictable movements; which chaos band training provides
  • The band will let you know about any deviation in your form, helping you improve your technique.

This type of training adds variety to your accessory exercises and is a great way to add intensity without adding weight. Consider adding these 4 Chaos Band exercise to your routine

Editor’s note: Remember to scale the weight down real low — this isn’t for using on one-rep maxes or anything close to it. We recommend incorporating these under the supervision of a trainer.

1. Chaos Push-Ups

Exercise considerations

Using more than one band and increasing the incline will make this exercise easier. The opposite will make it difficult.

Make sure you take a firm grip of the band and don’t approach anything near failure. Because face planting is not in your best interest.  

Engaging your glutes and core is necessary for this exercise.

Programming considerations

  • Use as warm up exercise before benching. Chaos push-ups serve as nice primer as of the movement will help activate the rotator cuff muscles. Keep the reps low-ish, between 6-10.
  • Use as an accessory exercise after your strength movement for the day. 2-3 sets of 8-15 reps will blow up your chest and triceps.

[Related: 3 Moves to Add Instability and Control to Your Workouts]

2. Chaos Single Arm Rows 

Exercise considerations 

It’s better to use a kettlebell for but it you don’t have one, substitute in a weight plate.  Take a firm grip of the band close to the horn of the kettlebell so as to prevent the weight from banging into the ground.

Keep your chest up, shoulders down and row your hand towards your hip.

Programming considerations

  • Use as an accessory exercise after your big strength training movement for the day.
  • This smokes your grip and core so keep the reps between 8-12 for 2-4 sets.

[Related: 6 row variations for a thicker, stronger back]

3. Chaos suitcase carries

Exercise considerations

Holding the band close to the KB horn makes this exercise easier. The further away the opposite. And because it’s more difficult to grip the band than the handle of the KB, don’t go crazy with the weight you select.

If you have a lower back discomfort, be careful as this exercise increases the demand on your lateral stability.

The age-old cues of shoulders down and chest up work well here.

Programming considerations

  • All carries are great accessory exercise to build grip strength and this version is not different.  Try 3 sets on each side for 40-50 yards. 

4. Chaos side plank 

Exercise considerations

If you have difficulty holding a side plank for 30 seconds, think twice before doing this side plank variation.  You’ll need to adjust the height of the band depending on whether you do a side plank on your hand(harder) or elbows (easier).

Programming considerations

  • This exercise will have you shaking around like crazy as your entire core area tries to keep you steady. And as a result, you’ll fatigue more easily. So, perform as warm up exercise before hitting the weights for 1-2 sets of 15-30 seconds on each side.


Wrapping up

Adding instability and intensity by adding a looped band to an exercise can strengthen your core and grip while improving your lifting technique.

And your body will appreciate a little chaos in your life. 

Featured image via evope_europe on Instagram