Next to body weight training, the use of flat continuously looped bands is easily one of the most convenient and versatile training tools available for large or small group training. Not only are resistance bands extremely portable, the flat continuously looped layered band construction is unmatched in durability when compared to its molded flat band or tubular designed counterpart. Also, because of the flat layered design, the attachment options and training resistance is unlimited - making them very personal trainer- and client-friendly. In this article, we will cover five unique single or double band attachment-free set-ups that can easily be implemented and adapted to any fitness training session regardless of location, band size, or exerciser's fitness level.
- Discover the importance of training with elastic resistance vs. only free weight resistance.
- Understand why flat bands are the most versatile elastic resistance training tool for fitness and performance-based training.
- Learn 5 easy set-ups that will provide for a total body, client-friendly training experience.
Muscles Are Dumb
Muscles are dumb. They do not cognitively recognize the difference between elastic and free-weight resistance. Instead, muscles simply adapt to the force or stimulus that is being applied to them.
Elastic resistance is an “ascending resistance,” which is uniquely different than a free weight’s “constant resistance.” An ascending resistance requires less effort at the beginning of the concentric phase of the movement. As a result, bands allow individuals to build up speed and momentum at the beginning of each repetition. This is significant because neuro-muscularly it teaches clients how to effectively generate force and power as it occurs in the real world.
Yes, free weights can create a similar effect at the beginning of the movement, but a free weight does not require great muscle recruitment and joint stabilization at the end of the movement like an elastic ascending resistance does. This greater end range challenge results in clients learning how to not only accelerate force, it also creates a greater awareness for peripheral stabilization; which is far more important than proximal stabilization when it comes to injury prevention and functional performance.
Along with this ascending resistance influence, a band’s pliability and independence to gravity allows individuals to train in multiple planes of motion thus allowing them to alter their movement angles while creating joint-friendly movement patterns. As a result, resistance band training becomes a far greater client-friendly strength training option when compared to its free weight counterpart.
Flat Layered vs. Tubular or Flat Molded Elastic Resistance
The #1 key to elastic resistance training is durability. Pliable elastic resistance bands are not made of iron but are rather constructed of a very pliable and light weight latex material that, if repeatedly taken beyond its recommended stretch tension tolerance, can ultimately be compromised. Therefore, stretch tension tolerance is critical to elastic resistance durability and long-term performance.
Tubular bands are hollow molded structures as compared to flat continuously looped bands that are a full, thick piece of solid latex. However, flat continuously looped bands can come in both a molded or layered construction style. Layered flat bands are 300x more durable than molded due to the matrix-like construction that bonds the band layers together; which creates a significantly greater level of repeated stretch tension durability. A flat, continuously looped layered band made of100% latex is going to offer trainers and their clients a safer and more effective training experience.
How to Determine if a Flat Band Is Layered or Molded
A layered flat band will have a seam that signifies the end point of the final layer or the beginning of the first layer. A band that does not have a distinguishable seam is a molded flat band. Some flat layered bands, like the Quantum Bands, take the layering process one step further by welding down the final layer. This latex welding process eliminates any chance of the top layer peeling back. Even though this small peeled section can be easily clipped away, in the eyes of the client and trainer it can make the band appear to be flawed, which may raise concerns about the band’s durability.
5 Attachment-free Set-ups for Resistance Band Training
The rack position (see image 1) places the band onto shoulders creating a front-dominated load with the force vector slightly anterior to the body’s center of gravity. This band set-up will challenge the trunk stabilizers during all exercise and should be used primarily for lower body training.
- Front Squat (see image 2)
- Split Squat
- Reverse Lunge
- Good Mornings
- Drop Squat
- Forward Lunges
Bilateral Foot Attachment
Bilateral foot attachment can be implemented in two ways (single band and double band):
The single band attachment (see image 3) is by far the most popular and most versatile bilateral foot attachment set-up. This attachment places one end of the loop under the arch of the foot, with the other end of the loop being placed into the individual’s hands. The key to this set-up is making sure the tension of the band between the feet does not over stretch and damage the band. Also, individuals need to aware of keeping the band under the arch, versus the forefoot, to ensure the band does not get accidentally grounded into the floor surface during training.
- High Pulls (see image 4)
- Push Press
- Hammer Curls
- Curl - Clean and Press
- Front Raises
- Supine Curls
The double band attachment (see image 5) is less versatile but allows for a significantly higher level of band tension to be utilized. This position places both sides of the looped band under the arch of the foot, allowing individuals to now grasp the band through both looped ends.
- Straight-Leg Deadlifts
- Bent-over Rows
- Deadlifts (see image 6)
- Curls (with handles attached)
- Seated Rows
Single Foot Attachment
The single foot attachment allows individuals to incorporate a staggered base of support which will create both a front and back foot attachment point. This staggered stance will allow individuals to do both unilateral and bilateral upper body exercises while placing the force vector anterior and posterior to the body’s center of gravity. A posterior position will activate abdominal stabilizers, while an anterior position will create a higher level of hip stabilization.
- Lawnmower Rows (see image 7)
- Triceps Extensions (see image 8)
- Incline Chest Press
- Standing Military press
- Rambo Press (3 Point Base of Support)
Hand Grip Attachment (Front or Behind)
The simplest way to train with a band is by grasping the band. This hand-only set-up allows individuals to quickly shorten or lengthen the band by wrapping around the hand. Grasping the band and training in front or behind the body are both viable options when using this set-up.
- Pull Aparts (Front) (see image 9)
- Chest Flies (Behind)
- Push-Ups (Behind) (see image 10)
- Elevated Pillars (Behind)
- Mountain Climber (behind)
- Horizontal Chest Press (Behind)
- Rhythmical Punching (Behind)
Crossover (Full or Half)
The full (see image 11) and half crossover set-up (see image 12) take full advantage of a flat continuously looped band by being able to comfortably apply the band directly to the body. This type of set-up would not be possible with a tubular type band which would easily roll and migrate on the body.
The crossover set-up allows an individual to perform normal movement patterns with hands being freed up to be used as a counter balance, upper body challenge or to hold additional free weight resistance like dumbbells or medicine balls.
- Bilateral Squats (Full) (see image 13)
- Split Squat (Half)
- Reverse Lunge (Half)
- Squat Jumps (Full)
- Elevated Single-Leg Squats (Half) (see image 14)
- Pistol Squat (Half)
- Lateral Lunge (Half)
With all five of these set-ups requiring no physical attachment point for the band, it allows the exercises associated with these set-ups to be done anywhere with minimal set-up time. As a result, these resistance band set-ups become an optimal tool for any large group or semi-private training session where the goal is metabolic strength training and conditioning.