If you’re stuck trying to get past a plateau and looking for alternative and unique methods to dig yourself out of a workout rut, you might want to keep reading.
With the explosion of the modern internet and growing number of experts giving you rehashed but slightly twisted fitness information, we’re all way past fitness overload.
Getting past a plateau can be a huge hurdle if you are trying to continually make some type of progress in your workouts.
This means that you should use every option at your disposal and be as efficient as possible in the gym in the time allotted. Even more important, sticking to the basics with slight overload variations can get your past your sticking points without resorting to insane high intensity workouts or crazy exercises that are better suited for a circus performance.
One small note before we get started …
Watch Scott Tousignant Squat 365 Pounds!
with a little help showing off squats with resistance bands as help from above.
Remember what 4 time Mr. Universe Bill Pearl said … “Does the muscle really care what mode is used to stress it past capacity? The important thing is to successfully stress the muscle past capacity – the mode is of secondary importance.”
Since squats seem to be always touted as one of the few exercises you should do, you might as well learn some variations on them to get past sticking points or at the very least, to make them more interesting.
Here’s just a few exercises I’ve used heavy duty resistance bands on:
- lying leg curl
- tricep pushdown
- lat pulldown
- single leg smith lunges
- seated leg press
A few experts have been touting the importance of using resistance bands for some time. Here’s just a few reasons why you might want to consider investing in a set of high quality bands for some of your free weight exercises:
1. Squats with Resistance Bands
Take an old school, mass building, quad hobbling movement like the traditional barbell squat and using resistance bands, you can change it into a concept called Variable Resistance.
Resistance training can take one of two possible paths. Constant and Variable.
In a constant situation you take a free weight and at times the weight being resisted against will change. For example, the number of fibers used at the top of a squat is significant different from the bottom. That’s why most people have a sticking point at the bottom because you are pushing 100% of the weight. As you rise, you push less and less as your skeleton takes the brunt of the weight.
In the same example if you were to do squats with resistance bands as Scott demonstrates in the video above, at the top, the bands are pulling down with force. As he gets to the bottom, the bands are adding nearly nothing and it’s all free weight. As he rises, where it normally would be easier as you rise up, the bands now add resistance.
Depending on the bands, the length at which they are stretched, the force applied can change.
I like to make my workouts as brief as possible. And I don’t just mean in terms of time. Getting more work done with each set, making it harder and progressive is the key to growth.
“It’s not how short you make it; it’s how you make it short.”
Sometimes creativity pays off in the gym.
2. Without progression, you have nothing
It’s a simple fact of life that in order to progress, one must change. In terms of building muscle, this means progression.
You could add more and more weight to the bar. But once you hit sticking points, this is where creativity comes into play and using resistance bands might help you get past a stuck point by making the exercise progressive in some shape or form. Even if it’s just a bit harder at the top to stand straight as more weight pulls down, that can be progressive overload, enough to force adaptation.
There is no substitute for hard work
I’m all in favor of taking breaks, or taking a break from training. But in order to progress and take it to the next level, you must work harder over time on a semi-consistent basis.
There are no real long-term lasting shortcuts to building muscle except hardwork, dedication and time.
One technique can make all the difference
The next time you are in the gym, you might want to learn more about using resistance band specifically applied to free weight exercises. I’m not talking about rubber tubes here folks. I mean the REAL heavy duty bands! Here’s the two brands I’ve used with great success in the past.
Benefits of Resistance Band Training
One major benefit to using resistance bands is an adjusted mechanical load. When you lift a free weight object thru a range of motion, the load does not change during the movement. It’s a constant mass and provides different stimulation at various points within the movement.
To use “muscle heads” who want to build the most muscle, it means that half of the movement of any given exercise isn’t providing optimal stimulation and maximum overload. I take this to mean 50% or so is not optimized.
Think of the squat. You are stronger in a quarter squat than a half. And stronger in a half than a full. The sticking point of most squats is at the bottom. As you get higher, the load transfers off the muscle and onto joints. But what if there was a way to make the load variable?
By using a combination of resistance bands and free weights at the same time, you can overload the whole range of motion! The free weight will provide the greatest overload the initial point while the bands provide resistance at the finishing portion.
Eccentric Maximum Overload
There’s been chatter about the eccentric (stretching portion; fighting against gravity) as being the real growth simulator in a given movement. Without giving into that conclusion, the bands offer more resistance in the eccentric portion than free weights alone.
In the example of the squat, as you come down, the bands add to the acceleration. They are pulling down with great force. Gravity + the bands. As you fight against that to stay in control, you are overloading the eccentric portion of the lift vs. free weights alone. This puts tremendous stress in the eccentric portion of the lift that gravity alone does not provide.
Let’s get focused
We can all use help getting more results from our workouts.
I’m a fan of resistance bands used for specific portions of the workout. I know that they work because it simply adds variable resistance to a exercise to make it harder. Making it harder is the formula for improvements.
Do you have more suggestions for getting results? Drop them in the comments.
Marc David – CPT
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”
Author of NoBull Bodybuilding