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Training with Bands and Pulleys - Part 2: Program Design

Bands are one of the most useful tools in our facility, the Institute of Human Performance (IHP). We use three major lines of equipment when it comes to band and pulley training; the Free Motion line from Ground Zero, the Versa Pulley from Heart Rate, Inc. and the various band products from Lifeline (available through Perform Better). We use these lines because of their dedicated efforts to designing state-of-the-art equipment and staying on the front of research and development.

The Free Motion Line offers a full line of resistance training equipment. Free-Motion offers the club owner a “machine-per-body-part” format that is familiar to all users and user friendly in terms of utilization and exercise execution. Due to the pulley design of most of the equipment, it also offers unlimited exercise capability to any trainer well versed with this training approach; one can perform over 30 different exercises from the chest unit alone.

The Versa Pulley works on the rotary inertia principle. In essence, this piece permits one to pull on it with maximum concentric effort, winding up like a yo-yo. As the flywheel spins, it winds up in the other direction providing the equal force on the eccentric contraction as the individual provided on the concentric portion of the exercise. The Versa Pulley provides various levels of resistance along the FORCE / VELOCITY spectrum by training light and fast movements, as well as heavy and slow movements – all with a turn of a knob. Finally, the Lifeline bands provide three basic products I designed for them; the JC Band, the JC Traveler, and the JC Quad. We have broken every single band product on the market within 3 months of use – all except the Lifeline. Some bands are still going after 6 years of work.

Below I will introduce a pure band / pulley workout. The purpose of this article is not to suggest that band and pulleys are all you need for comprehensive training. It is to provide various exercises we use to train various body movements. You can perform the entire workout or substitute any of these exercises with more traditional exercises. Experiment with this program and don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

5 Minute Warm-up

Warming has become an unimportant ritual for many club exercises. However, it may be the most important part of the workout. We turn our warm-up session into a mini conditioning, biomotor skill acquisition workout. It sometimes lasts as long a 15-20 minutes. We use these longer sessions to teach running mechanics and go after neural components of reaction and power. Stationary running, or other skills, can be used to train individuals to be faster on their feet. Examples of drills would be: 5 dot drills, jumps, and biomotor drills such as running or skipping. This warm up is a general warm up in that it does not significantly involve upper body large resistance. But, it will increase core and muscle temperature so that you can go to a more specific warm up if you wish. Here is one of my favorites.


You will be moving in a stationary manner – so use cones or other markers to stay within a safe area. You have to play around with this a bit before you become comfortable with how much resistance to use – be patient.


Make sure you use high knees and stay on the balls of your feet whenever possible. The more powerful you make these movements, the more they will transfer to your everyday life.


We use the Free-Motion low pull or heavy JC Bands for this exercise. If you don’t have either use a low pulley from any high quality pulley or cable system.

Lunges - Lower body

When working the lower body, lunges are one of my favorite exercises. They are particularly effective at training deceleration and changes in direction. Since the warm-up section focused on going forward, the lunges provide excellent deceleration training.


There are several types of lunges you can perform. One of our favorite advance versions is the reaching lunge. Follow the above instructions but reach forward as you lunge to the front.


We use the Free-Motion low pull (i.e. any machine with a low pulley), the Versa Pulley or JC Bands for this exercise. If you don’t have any of these items, use a low-pulley from any high quality pulley or cable system.

Standing Pulls – Upper body

Standing pulls are an excellent way to work the total body while emphasizing the posterior back musculature. They provide balance and stability training while pulling. In real life we always pull from our feet, therefore, the standing pull is one of the most functional exercises we perform.


There are several types of pulls you can perform. You can even add a forward reach to the movement, creating a compound row. With the alternating version, you can add foot pivots to further focus on hip rotation. The single leg version of this exercise is also very challenging.


We use the Free-Motion mid or low pull (i.e. any machine with a mid or low pulley), the Versa Pulley or heavy JC Bands for this exercise. If you don’t have these items, use an adjustable with mid or low orientation from any high quality pulley or cable system.

Standing Presses – Upper body

Standing presses are an excellent way to work the total body while emphasizing the pressing or pushing motion. This exercise provides balance and stability training while pushing forward. In real life we usually push from a standing position, therefore, the standing press is very functional.


There are several types of presses you can perform. You can even add a forward step to the movement, creating a thrusting action. The single leg version of this exercise is also very challenging.


We use the Free-Motion mid or low pull (i.e. any machine with a mid or low pulley), the Versa Pulley or heavy JC Bands for this exercise. If you don’t have these items, use any adjustable high quality pulley or cable system with mid or low orientation.

Standing PNF extension

Standing PNF extensions are an excellent multi-planar core exercise. This exercise emphasizes the extension mechanism, but with a rotational component. Sports, such as tennis and golf, use portions of this movement – making this exercise very popular with our athletes and recreational sport participants.


You can also perform the opposite version of this exercise to train rotation and flexion. Use a high orientation of pull and chop downward as you rotate.


We use the Free-Motion low pull (i.e. any machine with a low pulley), the Versa Pulley or heavy JC Bands for this exercise. If you don’t have either these items, use an adjustable with mid or low orientation from any high quality pulley or cable system.

Standing ABC Crunch

Standing ABC Crunches offer excellent flexion training for the front of the body, while addressing flexibility of the posterior chain. The ABC pattern provides multi-planar training, especially for the hips.


You can also perform the opposite version of this exercise to train rotation and extension. Use a low point of attachment - pulling and extending as you rotate. Use the same ABC pattern for multi-planar training.


We use the Free-Motion mid or high pulley (i.e. any machine with a low pulley), the Versa Pulley or JC Bands for this exercise. If you don’t have these items, use an adjustable with mid or high orientation from any high quality pulley or cable system.

Performing this simple workout will allow you to see improvements in the way you feel and move. You can also include some of these exercises into your traditional workouts for added fun and training efficiency. This workout can be performed in succession, in sequence or as a circuit for additional cardiovascular training.

The JC Traveler is only 21 inches long, making it a great travel partner. They are easy to pack and can be attached to practically anything! SO - there is no excuse for missing workouts.

For more information on “Vector Training” with bands and pulleys order our “Essence of Band and Pulley Training – VOL I & II.” It is the most comprehensive work on the use of band and pulleys ever produced in the fitness industry – you have our word on it!


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