Performing a bench press with bands will help you break through any strength plateau you have hit.
Applying a resistance band to your barbell will increase the intensity of the concentric, and eccentric part of the move giving you better results in building mass and increasing strength.
Why Should You Bench Press With Bands
Bench pressing with bands add the following benefits to your training depending on what your goals are:
The Speed of your bench press and force development will increase when you bench press with bands. The bands help to push through sticking points by increasing the load on the way up.
Bands accommodate for the fact that you are the weakest at the lowest point of the bench press as they provide less resistance when there is less tension on them.
The tenser they get the higher the load and therefore the load is the highest at the top point of the lift. This will help you to train with more speed and become more explosive.
Working around sticking points is another benefit of adding bands to your barbells for your bench press.
If you experience that some part of the press is sluggish, that millisecond more you need at that point of the lift to push through. Setting up bands will help you to push through those.
Your natural reaction to the bands is to put more rather than less force into the barbell when you are pushing upwards. Resistance bands help with sticking points when you go back from the uneven to the even-strength curve of the regular bench press.
Active recovery can also be a benefit of bench pressing with bands, especially when you work with very high loads.
Experienced lifters might want to train most days of the week and not give themselves the time to recover from their very heavy sessions due to the larger toll it takes on their bodies.
Including bands on recovery days, can help to spice up the routine and provide active recovery which is still challenging without taking too much of a toll on the body.
The same can be achieved with chains. Chains are generally deemed less taxing than bands for the bench press due to the nature of the resistance they provide.
Do Bands Help Bench Press
There is a reason why the bench press has been a staple for bodybuilders and has lasted the test of time, that’s because a well-developed chest helps develop parts of your body.
1. It helps increase how much weight you can push
I know this is common sense but as you increase your push strength it will help increase the amount you can lift on other exercises such as the shoulder press, push-ups, and chest dips just to name a few.
2. Increased strength, definition of Pec Major and Pec Minor
Again this is isn’t a surprise but what you need to understand is a more developed chest will also help you increase strength and further develop your back and shoulders.
The pec minor is often overlooked, but when you isolate the lower chest muscle, you will develop a well-rounded chest improving your strength and aesthetic look.
3. Larger Delts
Bench pressing will develop and strengthen your anterior and medial deltoids, your delts are one of the main muscles used when you perform the bench press, and their growth will support stronger shoulders and help give you that sought after capped shoulder look
4. Triceps fit for a god
When you push a barbell up and down in a controlled manner, you trigger all three heads of the tricep.
5. Healthy bones and great posture
Any compound joint exercise you perform puts a more significant amount of stress on your bones, making your body respond by strengthening your bone density. Another benefit of overall strength, bone, and joint health is good posture. Poor posture can be the reason for many health problems.
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How To Properly Execute A Bench Press With Bands
- Lie on the bench, and under the bar in a location that you find it easy to unrack the weight, people will try to tell you to line yourself up in one particular way. Still, in the end, you need to be comfortable, especially when you’re pushing heavier weights.
- Set your feet so that they are back closer to your butt while keeping them flat on the ground.
- Grab the bar using a medium grip, and when you push up, make sure to squeeze your shoulder blades together, this will help limit the amount of stress that you put on them.
- Arch your back. I know, here comes the controversy, but a minimal arch in your back as you lift will keep your spine aligned and will help take the pressure off your shoulders.
- Your grip needs to be tight, Make sure not to hold the bar too high in your hand this could result in you hurting your wrist. Keep it as low on your palm as possible, and make sure to grip the hell out of it.
- The width of your grip will again be decided by how built you are and how long your arms are, do what is comfortable to you while maintaining proper form.
- Take a deep breath in then unrack the weight and let the breath out, hopefully, you have a spotter so that you don’t have to waste your energy while unracking.
- Take another breath in as you lower the bar down as you do this, allow to tuck your elbows in to isolate your lats more, and this will protect your shoulders.
- Do not bounce the bar off your chest; if this is happening, it’s most likely because you have too much weight on the bar. You should be in control of the weight at all times. You want to bring the bar down in a controlled manner, touch your chest and push it back up.
- Keep repeating this until you reach your predetermined reps
How Much Weight Do Resistance Bands Add To Bench Press
This is going to depend on what type of resistance bands you buy.
The general rule of thumb is to start off with 20% of the weight your putting on the bar.
For example, if you’re benching 200 pounds than you want to add around 40 pounds of resistance with the bands.
This rule is a guideline, and in the end, you need to play around with different bands and see which ones allow you to still complete the move with proper form.
Understanding Strength Curves
When you strength train you perform an exercise that has what is known as a strength curve.
All exercise are done by moving your joints at a certain angle, the strength curve is simply how much strength you can apply to different degrees of the angle.
Think about doing a dumbbell curl, you’re starting position is with your hands down at your sides then you will start to raise them up bringing the weights directly in front of you then finishing with them raised near your shoulders.
The amount of strength needed throughout this move varies depending on where you are during the joint angle, you would need little strength when the weights are down by your side at the beginning or at the top near your shoulders at the end of the movement, but when you’re in the middle of your curl this is when you have to apply the most effort.
We can break all exercises down into one of three categories…
- Ascending – This is when you near full extension and the tension decreases at this point of the motion, this is noticeable in bench presses and squats.
- Descending – This is when you near full flexion, and the tension increases at this point of the movement and makes the move harder. Leg curls and rows have descending strength curves.
- Parabolic or bell-shaped – This strength curve feels more comfortable at the ends and more challenging in the middle. The above example of a dumbbell curl would be recognized as a parabolic strength curve.
The bench press has an ascending strength curve, and this means that the movement is most comfortable when the range of motion is at the top. Put you can move more weight at the top 1/3 than you can in the middle and bottom of the exercise.
An example of this would be if you could bench 180 pounds when you bring the bar down to your chest, you could probably bench 200 pounds if you only went down 2/3 of the way then back up again.
When Should You Start Using Bands On Your Bench Press
The biggest reason people start to add bands to the bench press is when they hit a plateau.
This won’t normally happen for someone that is new to lifting.
Using resistance bands on your bench press is normally for experienced lifters who have to add some intensity to their workouts to push their body into building more muscle.
I mentioned earlier how the bench press is the hardest once you hit the middle and the bottom of the movement, this can make it hard to progress your weight if you can’t strengthen this part of the exercise, in other words, you’re stuck at a plateau.
How the bands will help you get out of a sticking point or plateau.
- If your bench progression is being compromised because of the sticking point you’re encountering at the bottom of the movement then setting up resistance bands would lessen the resistance at the lowest point making it easier to get through it and continue to strengthen the muscles needed to make you more proficient at this lower part of the movement.
- The bands will also make parts of your exercise faster so that if you notice that there is a point during your range of motion that you become slow or sluggish, the bands will give you that jolt so that you can get through that sticking point as well and continue to train.
- If you’re a serious lifter and want to train seven days a week, bands can help you lighten the tension o days that you’re still recovering from a heavy workload the day before.
- Change is the spice of life, and you can use the bands just for the sake of changing things up and trying new moves.
How Do You Use Resistance Bands With A Bench Press
Some people have a fancy set up like powerlifters to use resistance bands with their weight bench, but this isn’t going to be everyone’s case.
The most important thing to consider when adding bands is to make sure that safety is your number one concern.
You’re not going to get stronger or bigger if you’re nursing an injury.
Can You Bulk Up Using Resistance Bands
Just using resistance bands will make it hard for you to add any serious muscle mass.
This is because it’s hard to achieve the amount of force needed to tear your muscle fibers and stimulate muscle growth
Different Types Of Bands To Use
There are many types of bands to use for different types of exercises the ones most popular for bench presses would be rubberbanditz.
- Medium Resistance – 1/2 inch wide x 41 inches long – 15 to 35 pounds of Resistance
- Heavy Resistance – 7/8 inch wide x 41 inches long – 30 to 50 pounds of Resistance
- Robust Resistance – 1 1/8 inches wide x 41 inches long – 50 to 80 pounds of Resistance
- Power resistance band – 1.75 inches wide x 41 inches long – 70 to 100 pounds of Resistance
- Strong Resistance – 2.5 inches wide x 41 inches long – 100 to 140 pounds of Resistance.
Using Chains On The Bench Press
The main reason to use chains is to increase your speed and learn how to push the weight right before the top of the move where you lockout, as you bring the weight down the chains pile up on the floor decreasing the weight they provide and also diminishing the tension they put on the bar.
As, you push up you pull the chains off the floor which obviously increases the tension on the move.
Let’s say you’re benching 200 pounds, and you put two chains on your bar each one weighing 45 pounds; at the top of the bench press, you will be pushing 290 pounds, but at the bottom, it will be the natural 200 pounds you have on the bar.
How To Use The Sling Shot
The slingshot is a product you wear on your upper body, the benefit you receive from this is it lets you increase the amount of weight you can bench without putting a harmful amount of stress on your body. You can generally handle about a 10% increase on your bench press.
The slingshot acts like your natural muscle movement by lengthening and shortening with your muscles, and this means that it will help support you on the eccentric and concentric portions of your lifts.
Reducing the negative effects on your shoulders, neck and elbows.
How To Avoid Shoulder Pain From Bench Pressing
Coming from personal experience, improper form on the bench press, or pushing yourself beyond what you can handle can cause severe shoulder injuries and, even worse, will hinder your training and your results.
I can’t stress enough the importance of practicing patience, making sure you are always in control of the weight and checking your ego at the door, and not to pay attention to the person next to you.
Some of these points were covered in the article above. Still, I felt it was essential to put them all in one section to make it clear to anyone interested in learning about this or who has unfortunately already experienced it and wants to correct their form.
1. Use your legs
Some people don’t realize this, but the bench press is a whole-body exercise, you want to bring your legs back close to your butt while still being flat on the ground and keep them spread wide.
You want to start each rep by pushing through your feet to help get the bar off your chest; the more of your lower body you use, the less strain you will endure on your shoulders.
Watch powerlifters and you’ll see the perfect form.
2. Push your shoulders together
When you go to unrack the bar, and during the actual exercise, you want to try to touch your shoulder blades together, this will make sure that you keep a stable base to push with and keep your shoulders in line.
3. Use a grip that is most comfortable for you
Lots of people will tell you to grip or hold the bar a certain way, but this will vary depending on the length of your arms and your build.
In the end, you want to do what is comfortable for you while maintaining proper form, a wider grip will lessen your range of motion and put more strain on your shoulders, so try to use a narrower grip that still feels natural to you.
4. Arch your back
Arch your back a little to take the strain off of your shoulders and to keep your spine aligned properly.
Powerlifters will utilize a very dramatic arch because it shortens how far they have to move the bar.
If you’re not training to be a powerlifter, try using a slight arch so that you can still get the same range of motion but still receive the benefits from the change of form.
Resistance bands can be used to avoid or get out of a strength plateau. They will also help with muscle endurance, as with any exercise, you need to understand how to perform the movement correctly and to always listen to your body.