When it comes to getting strong, there are no magic wands, no miracle programs -- no substitutes for hard work and a willingness to push yourself harder week to week. But there may be some strategies worth employing if you want to get strong faster than the other guy. One such tactic is the implementation of bands in your heavy workouts.
By adding bands, you're making an already demanding lift that much more so. But like other techniques that require more of your musculature, it's a calculated overload. Bands offer a specific type of resistance called linear variable resistance (LVR), which makes a lift harder to complete as the range of motion increases. This means that more total muscle fibers are engaged, both on the positive and the negative, which paves the way for greater strength (and size).
THE BOOK ON LVR TRAINING
There is a boatload of research supporting the use of LVR in your workouts. Researchers at Truman State University (Kirksville, Missouri) found that the use of bands in bench press training provided a significantly greater increase in bench press strength and power compared to those who utilized only free-weight resistance. Another study showed that athletes who used LVR in addition to free weights had significantly more power than when they performed only free-weight training.
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Grab a set of bands from Bodylastics (www.bodylastics.com) and toss them in your gym bag or see if your gym has a set. To start, try using them on the squat and the bench press. Begin by using approximately 30% of your 1RM for three sets of five reps as your first exercise on your normal chest and leg days.
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Secure the bands around the bottom of the rack, heavy dumbbells or around low-set safety bars. Set the bands in such a way that taking the bar off the rack doesn't pull you forward or back or make the movement awkward. After a careful descent, explode upward to counter the additional resistance of the bands.
BAND BENCH PRESS
Loop the bands around the base of a power rack. As with squats, be sure to fix collars on the ends of the bar to hold the bands securely in place. As with the squat, aim to generate maximum force on the positive rep.