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HYPOTHESIS Adding bands to free weights increases strength more than lifting free weights alone.

RESEARCH A study from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette had untrained subjects bench-press using
 a weight that limited them to six reps per set, using either 100% free weight or 85% free weight plus 15% band resistance for three weeks. Then, the subjects using bands switched to 100% free weights, while the other subjects added bands for the next three weeks.

One-rep max strength was measured at the start and end of each trial.

FINDINGS Researchers reported that when the subjects used bands plus free weights, they increased their strength by an average of 22 pounds compared with only 17 pounds without the bands.

CONCLUSION This study reported a five-pound, or 30%, difference in strength gains in untrained subjects. These results are very similar to previous studies of trained lifters showing that adding bands to free-weight exercises results in superior strength gains.

APPLICATION Use bands at the very beginning of your workout for two or three sets on exercises such as bench presses, squats, and deadlifts before getting into your normal sets. For example, on bench presses, first do 2–3 sets of 6–8 reps with the bands. Then do 2–3 sets of benches without them.