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Thread: Big Bad Bands by Eric Cressey

  1. #1
    Soon to be lean... Joe Black's Avatar
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    Big Bad Bands by Eric Cressey

    Everyone knows about free weights, however bodyweight-only training has been around for centuries. Read on to find out how bands can play an important part in your training routine!

    http://www.wannabebig.com/article.php?articleid=271

    Enjoy

    Daniel
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  2. #2
    Just watch me ... Built's Avatar
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    Eric, this is a great article - I've seen pictures of people training with bands, and more recently at my new gym, TommyBoy trains Westside-style with bands and chains, but I've only ever seen them being used for loading the bar - the concept of deloading was something I hadn't even considered.

    Here's why this sounds so intriguing to me: I have trouble getting my squat out of the hole. (Surprise! Gee, NOBODY has THIS problem ... ). I've tried box squats, Anderson squats, various stances ... I DID find working my GMs really helped my squat, a LOT, but still, that cursed hole.

    Something else you said struck me - that I don't want to neglect training the stronger portion of the lift while I give extra focus to the weaker portion. So ... my little brain is thinking ... why not use bands to deload the squat, so it's easier at the bottom and harder at the top? That way I'm still working the top part of the squat hard, while letting my body learn how to get out of the hole with a little less load?

    Am I on the right track?

    PS great to see you here. I've read your stuff for years; even referenced you in my "ode to fish oil" in this month's Q&A.

  3. #3
    Wannabebig Member Eric Cressey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Built
    Something else you said struck me - that I don't want to neglect training the stronger portion of the lift while I give extra focus to the weaker portion. So ... my little brain is thinking ... why not use bands to deload the squat, so it's easier at the bottom and harder at the top? That way I'm still working the top part of the squat hard, while letting my body learn how to get out of the hole with a little less load?

    Am I on the right track?
    I definitely think you're on the right track. The big issue with a lot of people who struggle coming out of the hole is that their explosive strength (also known as rate of force development, or RFD) is subpar. Now, RFD can be enhanced with any load; the important thing is that force is developed quickly (hell, even isometrics can be explosive).

    With that in mind, in terms of actualy movement (e.g., squat) carryover, specificity takes the cake; you want to train the whole ROM. That said, I think that your best bet (still) would be to use strength-speed work to train RFD. That is, you'd probably respond best to really hammering in the 45-70% range with sets of two. This is especially true in people who come from bodybuilding backgrounds; they need to learn how to lift explosively instead of grinding everything out.

    Thanks for the kind words and warm welcome.

  4. #4
    Just watch me ... Built's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Cressey
    I definitely think you're on the right track. The big issue with a lot of people who struggle coming out of the hole is that their explosive strength (also known as rate of force development, or RFD) is subpar. Now, RFD can be enhanced with any load; the important thing is that force is developed quickly (hell, even isometrics can be explosive).

    With that in mind, in terms of actualy movement (e.g., squat) carryover, specificity takes the cake; you want to train the whole ROM. That said, I think that your best bet (still) would be to use strength-speed work to train RFD. That is, you'd probably respond best to really hammering in the 45-70% range with sets of two. This is especially true in people who come from bodybuilding backgrounds; they need to learn how to lift explosively instead of grinding everything out.
    Okay, so, if you can humour me and help me plan my attack -

    I'm cutting right now, will be until the end of October/beginning of November, then I'm planning a modest bulk. My goal is to get my squat up, and build my quads. I'm a hamstring-dominant kinda gal - my quads never want to do any work. Lazy freeloaders.

    At the moment, I just want to keep the iron on the bar, but in the fall, how would you advise me to proceed, on the extra food?

    My last bulk, I did a four-day training cycle with quads and lats being specialized - day one was quads and lats, day two was lower volume quads and lats, day three everything else, day four was off, like this (teh Lyle set it up):

    Day 1:
    squats, 5x5
    leg press, 3x10
    <lats>

    Day 2:
    squats, 3x5
    leg press, 3x8
    <lats>

    Day 3:
    everything else at maintenance

    Day4:
    off

    Supposing I wanted to concentrate on my squat for my bulk, what would you suggest as a training schedule this fall? At the moment, my max squat for a triple is 175. I can do sets of 8+ reps with over a plate a side, if this information helps you at all. I'd love to see two plates a side go up for a triple in my lifetime. <sigh>

    I'm SURE my legs are strong enough - there's something mechanical that's holding me back.

    How would I structure the band assisted work and the speed work into something like what I did last year? Or should I do it entirely different from last year (my quads didn't gain much from it, but my lats totally woke up training them this way).

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Cressey
    Thanks for the kind words and warm welcome.
    You're welcome! Like I said, you're a real asset here.

    Besides, I needed to butter you up before going in for the kill (see above request).


  5. #5
    Wannabebig Member Eric Cressey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Built
    Okay, so, if you can humour me and help me plan my attack -

    I'm cutting right now, will be until the end of October/beginning of November, then I'm planning a modest bulk. My goal is to get my squat up, and build my quads. I'm a hamstring-dominant kinda gal - my quads never want to do any work. Lazy freeloaders.
    That's pretty rare in females; I'm surprised!

    At the moment, I just want to keep the iron on the bar, but in the fall, how would you advise me to proceed, on the extra food?
    Let me preface this by saying that I don't agree with classic bulk/cut schemes - especially in women.

    My last bulk, I did a four-day training cycle with quads and lats being specialized - day one was quads and lats, day two was lower volume quads and lats, day three everything else, day four was off, like this (teh Lyle set it up):

    Day 1:
    squats, 5x5
    leg press, 3x10
    <lats>

    Day 2:
    squats, 3x5
    leg press, 3x8
    <lats>

    Day 3:
    everything else at maintenance

    Day4:
    off

    Supposing I wanted to concentrate on my squat for my bulk, what would you suggest as a training schedule this fall? At the moment, my max squat for a triple is 175. I can do sets of 8+ reps with over a plate a side, if this information helps you at all. I'd love to see two plates a side go up for a triple in my lifetime. <sigh>

    I'm SURE my legs are strong enough - there's something mechanical that's holding me back.
    What's holding you back is a program that includes leg pressing. If you want to improve your squat, you need to squat - pure and simple. And, you're doing that, but the acute loading parameters are pretty bad. Lift heavier; get down into the 1-3 rep range once a week and get some volume in - and ROTATE your exercises. You'll burn out if you squat every week. The secret is to vary the loading: box squats, front squats, back squats, SSB squats, Anderson squats, etc. This should be your first lower body session of the week. Back off on intensity in week 4; just get the bar off your back and do some single-leg work instead.

    On the other day, you could use some bands, but I'd rather just see you doing some work to learn how to accelerate the bar quickly. You'd probably need to start out with lower percentages (35-50%) to get the feel for it. The secret is to hit low reps, moderate weight, LOTS of speed - and with plenty of sets. Try this:

    Week 1: 15x2 @ 35%
    2: 12x2 @ 40%
    3: 20x2 @ 45%
    4: 5x2 @ 50%, then work up to some heavy singles

    The deload at the beginning of week 4 primes you for a PR in the last session. In all these sessions, you should include some assistance work - especially single-leg stuff. The parameters on those should be higher rep - but stil lin line with the high-medium-very high-low format I outlined.

    Most bodybuilders programs don't understand fitness-fatigue at all. You'll never be able to display your true fitness if you've accumulated a ton of fatigue. You could probably squat 200 - but not with the amount of fatigue you always have accumulated.

    Sometimes, taking a step back and building your strength before you get back to classic hypertrophy parameters is the best way to make gains in the long term. And, as an experienced lifter, remember that you're going to respond better to lower reps.

    All that said, you could include some band work down the road, but I'd go straight weight for a month and then look at it then.

    Just my $0.02; take it for what it's worth.

    EC
    Last edited by Eric Cressey; 08-11-2006 at 11:31 AM.

  6. #6
    Just watch me ... Built's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Cressey
    That's pretty rare in females; I'm surprised!
    Really! I am aware that most people are quad-dominant, but I had no idea this peculiarity was sex-related.

    I've torn quads many times. I've never torn a hamstring.

    Thank God.
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Cressey
    Let me preface this by saying that I don't agree with classic bulk/cut schemes - especially in women.
    I'm coming to agree with you on this - my last bulk, over about a 5-month period, I gained 17 lbs. According to my DEXA-test partway through, I had gained 2.6 lbs of muscle. I'll NEVER bulk this much again. I'm thinking 8-10 lbs, TOPS, from end of cut to end of my next bulk. The bang-for-buck ratio is simply not there - and I'm NOT enjoying trying to peel off this layer of fat. Too hard on the old skin, too. Never again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Cressey
    What's holding you back is a program that includes leg pressing. If you want to improve your squat, you need to squat - pure and simple. And, you're doing that, but the acute loading parameters are pretty bad. Lift heavier; get down into the 1-3 rep range once a week and get some volume in - and ROTATE your exercises. You'll burn out if you squat every week. The secret is to vary the loading: box squats, front squats, back squats, SSB squats, Anderson squats, etc. This should be your first lower body session of the week. Back off on intensity in week 4; just get the bar off your back and do some single-leg work instead.
    Interesting. <takes notes>

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Cressey

    On the other day, you could use some bands, but I'd rather just see you doing some work to learn how to accelerate the bar quickly. You'd probably need to start out with lower percentages (35-50%) to get the feel for it. The secret is to hit low reps, moderate weight, LOTS of speed - and with plenty of sets. Try this:

    Week 1: 15x2 @ 35%
    2: 12x2 @ 40%
    3: 20x2 @ 45%
    4: 5x2 @ 50%, then work up to some heavy singles
    EXACTLY what I was looking for!

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Cressey

    The deload at the beginning of week 4 primes you for a PR in the last session. In all these sessions, you should include some assistance work - especially single-leg stuff. The parameters on those should be higher rep - but stil lin line with the high-medium-very high-low format I outlined.

    Most bodybuilders programs don't understand fitness-fatigue at all. You'll never be able to display your true fitness if you've accumulated a ton of fatigue. You could probably squat 200 - but not with the amount of fatigue you always have accumulated.

    Sometimes, taking a step back and building your strength before you get back to classic hypertrophy parameters is the best way to make gains in the long term. And, as an experienced lifter, remember that you're going to respond better to lower reps.

    All that said, you could include some band work down the road, but I'd go straight weight for a month and then look at it then.

    Just my $0.02; take it for what it's worth.

    EC

    Your .02 is worth a great deal to me.

    Thank you very much for this.

  7. #7
    Hulk Smash! LouPac's Avatar
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    Eric, great information in here. I also appreciated the article as well. I just started working with bands and added some dynamic effort days in the past month. I am seeing some great results in the power department. I just started doing a Westside template and it's like I'm learning how to work out all over again. I'll second the box squats too, they are tremendous for building squat strength.

    I look forward to more of your insight here.

  8. #8
    Proud Father Maki Riddington's Avatar
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    Eric,

    In your response to Built's question you gave an alternative solution without the use of bands. My question to you is, when would you incorperate band work into a routine? Is it dependant on an individual's strength base and weaknesses in their compound lifts? Should they have a certain number of training years under their belt?
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    So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
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  9. #9
    Wannabebig Member Eric Cressey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maki Riddington
    Eric,

    In your response to Built's question you gave an alternative solution without the use of bands. My question to you is, when would you incorperate band work into a routine? Is it dependant on an individual's strength base and weaknesses in their compound lifts? Should they have a certain number of training years under their belt?
    Well, you can use bands from Day 1 - and we do on certain exercises (e.g., x-band walks, pullaparts, assisted pull-ups).

    In the squat scenario, they can actually help some young lifters who have good technique but struggle with stability under heavier loads. It only takes a mini or light band to get the job done, but even with just a little bar weight, they learn to brace correctly.

  10. #10
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    Re: Big Bad Bands

    I read Eric Cressey's article on Big Bad Bands and I was
    > wondering if training with heavy bands would help me to increase power and
    > speed in my leg for kicking and punting in football and as a result help
    > me to reach my goals of 60+ yard field goals and 80+ yard punts?. I was
    > also wondering where I could find a monster band? Thanks!!

  11. #11
    Wannabebig Member Eric Cressey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MCkicker1
    I read Eric Cressey's article on Big Bad Bands and I was
    > wondering if training with heavy bands would help me to increase power and
    > speed in my leg for kicking and punting in football and as a result help
    > me to reach my goals of 60+ yard field goals and 80+ yard punts?. I was
    > also wondering where I could find a monster band? Thanks!!
    It certainly wouldn't hurt the cause.

    However, hip mobility is just as important for kickers; you need plenty of ROM to have time to develop leg speed. Check out our DVD for details:

    www.MagnificentMobility.com

  12. #12
    Da Bears slashkills's Avatar
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    Any way we can get this article on the new site?

  13. #13
    Soon to be lean... Joe Black's Avatar
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    no worries, i'll put it to the top of the list
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  14. #14
    Da Bears slashkills's Avatar
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    Thanks!

  15. #15
    Soon to be lean... Joe Black's Avatar
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  16. #16
    Da Bears slashkills's Avatar
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    Thanks A ton! that was one of the best articles ive read so far.

  17. #17
    Wannabebig New Member
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    bands in Europe

    Hi,

    I know this thread is a bit old but didn't really find anywhere else to ask. The Superbands from Perform Better look great but buying from Perform Better when you live in Europe is just a pain in the neck. Any suggested european retailers?

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