"I'm With the Band…": Gain Muscle & Strength through Progressive Resistance Training

"I'm With the Band…": Gain Muscle & Strength through Progressive Resistance Training

You're always looking for ways to get more out of your time in the gym. The workout you're using today is the one that got you looking precisely how you look right now.  The amount of weight you lifted today, yesterday, and over the past year, created the strength level you currently enjoy. If you're not as strong as you'd like to be, go look in the mirror. If you aren't as big and muscular as you'd like to be, then you have nobody to blame but yourself. You just didn't move enough weight, and challenge your body in enough ways, to foster any more strength or muscle size.  It's on you, player!

This isn't to say it's bad news. Quite the opposite, actually. If your lack of muscle gain was someone else's fault, then you'd likely not retain much control to change things.  If they made you this way, then they have to be the one make you improve. This is a very good thing!  Since YOU are the one who brought you to this current point of mediocre muscularity, then YOU have 100% control over how much gains you will get to see in the future. Shock your body by training harder and more creatively than you've ever done before, and yes, you will certainly grow.  And just as you suffered through all of the blame for your lack of progress, you will enjoy all of the praise for any upcoming changes you manage to see. Are you ready to push yourself to new levels?

If you're an intermediate lifter seeking a way to boost your body's performance on training day, as well as recover after training, then it's time to get yourself busy with some training bands. You may have seen them before. They look like giant rubber bands. However, in a game where any way you can make the muscle work harder, you see gains… these little bands can become your best friend!

Any exercise where you move a weight against the force of gravity can employ bands.  And when the weight is in the starting position, the bands do nothing but add a pound or so of resistance to the bar, from their added weight hanging off of it. And then, the fun begins!

Let's take a look at the exercise known as the barbell squat. Wrap the band around the bar outside of the weight, and tie the other end to the squat rack, or a weight plate on the floor.  Keep it balanced by tying another band to the other side of the bar. During the first few inches of the movement, you'll be moving the standard 135 pounds, for example. Then, something happens. The band reaches its optimal length and begins to stretch. Things are about to get interesting.

Simple physics apply now. The 135 pounds you started with very quickly becomes 145, 155, 165 or more pounds. The taller you are, and the greater distance you squat up the weight past the point where those bands started pulling, the more resistance you're facing. It's like the barbell has a magic means of realizing you're at the tough part of the repetition, and it magically decides to push harder towards the earth. Changing the length of the band will affect just how much resistance is applied. If you use a shorter band, the increased resistance will begin much sooner.  Opting for a longer band may mean the added resistance "kicks in" only at the very top of the rep. Experiment to see which method gives you the results you prefer! 

If you're looking for a way to boost your training, or even get past a sticking point on a heavy compound movement, then the use of bands may be right for you. Continue to employ your standard training and supplementation, opting for the use of bands at the end of sets when you're really ready to push failure… right out a window!

Remember that band training alone will not be enough to push your body to new levels.  No, you also need to give your body the added resources it needs to train and recover from such epic workouts. Bump up your protein and ensure you're eating at least 1 gram of protein for each pound of body weight. Sleep about 8 hours per night. Give yourself plenty of "down" time where you're relaxing or moving slowly around the house. Playing full-court basketball til bedtime isn't going to give you big muscles. Stay hydrated so your systems have the means to grow and function optimally. Finally, find every way you can to eliminate stress from your life. Live right, train with bands, in addition to your standard training, and you'll quickly see new gains in terms of muscle mass, size, and strength. Good luck!

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