The Big Band Workout

Bands are an excellent tool to use to create difficult end range leverages in training and enhance power development. Think about when you bench with straight weight, what is the easiest part of the lift? Usually for most it is when you get through the mid range of your press. This is because as you near lockout on your bench your leverages improve and you are in a position of greater strength. This is the reason why you can handle more weight to boards than to your chest

The bands take away this leverage advantage, which makes them so effective. Now as you near the end range of your bench the bands are stretching even more, which adds tension to the bar thus increasing weight lifted. Now as you finish the lift you are actually handling more weight making the press evenly difficult throughout the range of motion plus getting the advantage of additional tricep utilization at the end for lockout

Bands are also ideal for power production for this very reason. When you think power vs strength, power is strength displayed very quickly. Power can be developed through moving quickly and explosively, which can be achieved through "speed" sets on bench. When doing speed sets on bench the objective is to move the bar as fast as possible with good controlled form. Weight lifted is irrelevant in regards to speed training, you want to use a weight that allows you to complete a rep in about a seconds time. Less than that and you should up weight, more than that and you should drop weight

Bands enhance speed work on bench because they allow you to move explosively through the entire lift. With just bar weight you would need to decelerate at the end range to keep yourself from losing position and firing your shoulders off the bench. Bands eliminate this deceleration phase, as extra force is now needed to finish the lift. Studies have shown power production increases when bands are added to the lift

This routine that I am about to lay out for you takes full advantage of the bands. In this routine we use the bands to enhance power production for speed work, fire the triceps to a stronger degree, and to take away leverage advantages so that you are generating force through the entire range of motion. We will call this routine The Big Band Workout

Speed Bench Press - 9x3 55% Bar Weight + 20% Band Tension (300 lb bencher ex. 165 bar weight, 60 lbs band tension)

Close Grip Bench Press w/ Bands - 4x6 (300 lb bencher ex. 170 bar weight, 100 lbs band tension)

X Band Extension - 3x15

Band Lat Pulldown - 3x15

Defranco Pull Aparts - 3x15

The first movement in this routine is the speed benching. Doing this while you are fresh and not fatigued guarantees you'll be ready to generate maximal power output. Start with about 55% bar weight and add 20% weight in band tension to bring your total weight lifted to 75%. Ideally you'd like to set up the bands so that you are getting a full deload of the band on the chest and exactly 20% band tension at the top but this can not always be the case depending on your band set up, limb lengths, etc. Just as explained before the bands will take away any deceleration phase in the lift and make you fire all the way through to the end. Training power development will aid in your ability to transition in your bench smoothly and move quickly under maximal loads

The next secondary bench movement is the close grip bench against band tension. We are really targeting the triceps here with the bands and the close grip. I would use less bar weight and more band tension since the goal is to make the triceps work maximally for lockout power. You will need to play around with the tension to fit it to your abilities, make sure the weight is heavy enough to get good work in for 6 reps without failing

X Band Extensions kicks off our accessory movements. This is a personal favorite of mine. Attach two bands to an overhang about a foot apart. Grab the ends of the bands and cross them over each other. You should now be holding the bands so they form an X. Perform tricep extensions in this position. This exercise gives you a unique tricep contraction. Since the extension has a slight angle about it, this variation will hit your triceps in a different manner than traditional straight on tricep extensions

Banded Lat Pulldowns are an excellent option for building big lats to aid in the bench press. I have been incorporating more of these lately. Attach a band to an overhang and either grab the end of the bands by itself or stick a broomstick type bar through the band. Perform lat pulldowns either seated, kneeling, or in some cases standing. The bands create a lot of tension when you pull down to the chest and really make you contract the lats hard in the bottom. This exercise will give you a huge back pump, especially good for getting blood in the area and enhancing recovery

Defranco Pull Aparts are performed with a band as well, it is a unique combination of a front raise and a pull apart. Step into the middle of a single band. To perform the exercise, grab onto the sides of the band, raise your arms as you're completing a front raise first, then from the front raise position perform a pull apart. A very light band is all you need to perform this exercise. I love this because you have constant tension on your shoulders the entire time. Not only are you getting rear delt activation from the pull aparts but you are getting side delts and front delts as well just by how the band tension acts from the floor

There is your Big Band Workout for this week's Big Bench Routine Wednesday! You can see that this whole workout can pretty much be completed with just bands and a bar. Give this workout a try and let me know what you think! Your triceps will be thanking you!

For coaching or programming help, email coachben@bigbenchas.com and I'll be sure to get you stronger!