Powerlifters will employ a range of tools and techniques in order to improve their bench press strength.
One of these tools is the use of bands, but can bands genuinely aid with the bench press? Yes, employing bands on the bench press will help you produce more force, break through sticking areas, and improve your barbell control.
With being stated, the banded bench press is not for everyone, and you may be able to get the same results with different approaches. So, in this post, we’ll see if the banded bench press is an activity worth your time, and if so, how to do it correctly.
What does it mean to do a banded bench press?
The banded bench press involves connecting a band to the barbell to increase resistance as you press the weight into the mid and upper ranges of motion.
As you lock the weight out on a banded bench press, it will get increasingly difficult. To overcome the additional resistance that would otherwise be absent, you will need to exert more power.
Why Do Bands Aid Bench Pressing?
Because they intended to control the “strength curve,” powerlifters began using banded bench presses.
The “strength curve” is the difference between the force you require to move the barbell to completion and the force you can actually create.
Consider how it feels to lift a 70 percent of one-rep maximum load for a single rep:
You’ll need to use a significant amount of force to drive the bar to lock-out as you bring it down to your chest and begin the climb. Is that, however, the highest amount of force you can generate?
The force necessary to lift 70% of your body weight for a single rep isn’t the highest force you can exert. In fact, once you’ve gotten over your sticking place, you might not need to use the same amount of force to pull the bar off your chest.
In other words, as you press the bar to its final position, you know you can relax your arms and still complete the lift without exerting maximum effort.
The’strength curve’ is created by the ‘gap’ between the force you need to produce and the force you can produce. Adding resistance to the bench press with bands helps to adapt the strength curve.
In other words, the bands operate as an external loading tool, forcing you to exert more power in ranges of motion that would not ordinarily require you to ‘push’ as hard as possible.
Three Reasons To Bench Press With Bands
The following are three reasons why you should utilize a banded bench press:
1. Increase the production of force
When you add a band to the bench press, you’ll be forced to be more careful about how quickly you push the barbell.
When powerlifters are asked to perform weights that are 65-80% of their 1 rep max for a lesser number of reps (1-5), they are less likely to drive the bar as hard as they can. They only exert the smallest amount of effort necessary to perform the movement.
You will accelerate swiftly off your chest, cruise through the mid-range, then decelerate into the lock-out when lifting light weights.
As a result, employing a band will educate you to drive the bar over its whole range of motion. In each phase of the lift, you will accelerate and reach faster speeds than you would with conventional weights. The “Dynamic Effort Method” is another name for this.
Even when applying sub-maximal loads, the goal is to achieve maximum force at all times.
2. Find a Way to Get Past Obstacles
If you have a stumbling block at lock-out, training with a band could help you overcome it. Because the triceps are in charge of extending the arm, if you’re having trouble locking out, it’s likely that your triceps are weak. Read the rest of our bench press lockout training guide.
As a result, you’ll need to train your triceps specifically for the adaption needed. To do so, load your triceps at lock-out so that the muscles’ length adapts to the mechanics of the exercise.
When you use a band instead of traditional weights, you put greater attention on your triceps. (Note: If you’re weak in the middle of the bench press, I recommend doing the banded bench press, which I discuss in another post.)
3. Make use of eccentric control
If bands provide more resistance as you move the weight through the concentric range of motion, culminating at lock-out, then the opposite is also true as you lower the weight.
As you lower the bar, also known as the eccentric range of motion, you will need to begin the movement with more force production than you would without the band.
As a result, you’ll need to exert more control over the bar when starting the movement. Rather of letting the band draw the bar down quickly, you’ll have to keep an eye on the eccentric tempo to keep the bar on the appropriate route and avoid slamming into your chest.
Pec activation is two times higher when you lower the weight than when you press it up, according to studies. According to the study, on the way down, various stabilizing muscle groups, such as the lats and upper back, are recruited to help decelerate the bar approaching the chest.
This implies that by utilizing a band, you’re forcing your pecs and stabilizing muscles to manage the movement’s tempo on the way down.
What Is The Proof That The Banded Bench Press Is Effective?
In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Garcia-Lopez et al. (2016) found that employing a banded bench press boosted barbell acceleration and maximal power by 17 percent when compared to a control group.
This demonstrates that athletes who train with a band get considerably better at driving through the complete range of motion for longer periods of time rather than decelerating the bar as it approaches the top end.
But how does this affect maximum strength? Bellar et al. (2011) studied the effects of training using a banded bench press over a 13-week period on maximal strength in a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Both groups demonstrated a gain in strength after testing 1 rep maxes before and after the training session with a group that utilized bands and a group that didn’t use bands. The group who used the banded bench press, on the other hand, increased their 1 rep max strength by 2.39kg / 5.23lbs more than the group that didn’t use bands.
Even though there is just a 5lb difference between the groups, this is still a statistically significant dataset that suggests that using bands improves performance.
Who Should Use Bench Press Bands?
Beginners should avoid using bands.
A beginner would be defined as someone who has less than two years of strength training experience.
Just because you desire to utilize bands for one of the three reasons listed above doesn’t mean they’ll be the most effective instrument for achieving your objectives.
A beginner would likely benefit more from simply benching more for each of the three reasons I felt banded bench press was an excellent strategy.
“More benching” could imply
- Increasing the number of bench workouts per week, for example, from one to two, or
- Benching more over a longer length of time, such as throughout several months of training to perfect the bench technique.
For novices, you should aim to get as much advantage from traditional benching as possible for as long as possible, and only use external tools or approaches once those benefits have faded.
If you’re going to use the banded bench press, you should be able to clearly express which of the three reasons listed above applies to your case, and only use the band if your regular bench press hasn’t solved your problem.
Tips For Banded Bench Press Coaching (From Top Coaches)
When it comes to the effectiveness of any tool in powerlifting, various instructors will believe different things when it comes to its effectiveness in growing strength.
So, to get some additional perspectives on utilizing bands for bench press, I asked two elite powerlifting coaches if they use bands with their athletes and why or why not.
Mike Tuchscherer, owner of Reactive Training Systems, has coached multiple World Champion Powerlifters.
Mike can be seen utilizing banded bench press to increase tricep strength while employing heavier routines. He also sees the value in employing it to improve eccentric control, particularly at the bottom of the range of motion to halt the bar on the chest.
Setting Up A Banded Bench Press (Demo)
It’s fantastic if you have a fancy rig for setting up bands on the bench press.
However, the majority of people do not own a high-end setup. So, here’s how I’d organize the band:
Step 1: Wrap the band around one of the barbell’s ends.
Step 2: Pull the band underneath the bench.
Step 3: Wrap the band around the barbell’s opposite end.
Step 4: Insert the bands into the collar’s sleeve.
What Types of Bands Should You Use?
For bench press, I find that 0.5 inch or 1-inch bands provide the most benefit.
I utilize these bands for a variety of workouts, including numerous warm-up exercises, in addition to banded bench press.
Any thicker bands will necessitate a significant reduction in bar load, as lock-out will be too difficult – even for those who do not have a lock-out problem.
Iron Bull has provided me with a list of bands to listen to. On Amazon, you may purchase the entire set, which will allow you to move through various resistance levels.
F.A.Q how to do bench press with bands:
What is the purpose of a banded bench?
In the bench press, most people can lift far more weight with a 14 rep than they can with a full repetition. With the addition of bands, our athletes will be able to exert more force across their whole range of motion.
Why do you need to execute a banded bench press?
Adding resistance to the bench press with bands helps to adapt the strength curve. In other words, the bands operate as an external loading tool, forcing you to exert more power in ranges of motion that would not ordinarily require you to ‘push’ as hard as possible.
Resistance bands add how much weight to the bench press?
I recommend that bands account for around 20% of your total load. If you’re benching 225 pounds, a pair of mini-bands at the top of the lift should provide roughly 30-40 pounds of resistance.
To create an appropriate load for max-effort work, load 185 in straight weight with the bands in place.
By altering the nature of the “strength curve,” the banded bench press can aid improve performance. As an intermediate or advanced lifter, you should perform the banded bench press to boost force production, break through a plateau, or practice more eccentric control.
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