Back in the early 1900s, Eugene Sandow, the founding father of bodybuilding, was selling a home exercise device that used rubber resistance bands for strength training. Decades later, elastic bands could be purchased in the 1970s and were marketed as a cheap, safe and effective method for duplicating isokinetic resistance machines.

By the late 1980s and early 1990s, elite-level powerlifters had jumped on the “bandwagon” by attaching bands to barbells to push super-human levels of strength.

Ten years ago, training with bands was still primarily reserved for elite athletes and finding a gym with a set of bands was as likely as finding a T-bone steak at a vegan convention. Times have changed and bands have started popping up at gyms like spandex did in the 1980s. The difference is, unlike Spandex, bands can actually help your workout.

How Do Bands Work?

Let’s take the dumbbell incline press as an example.

As a lifter lowers the weight down and then back up to the starting position, the resistance provided by the bands decreases on the way down and then increases on the way up; by how much depends on the strength of the bands.

As you get toward the completion of the lift, more force and muscle fibers will be required. While strength athletes have reaped the benefits for decades, the benefits to the bodybuilder should be apparent because as the range of motion lengthens, resistance becomes more powerful, which leads to greater strength and muscle growth.

To sum it up, as leverage improves, resistance increases, causing the entire movement to be overloaded. It is impossible to go through the motions; you must fight the entire way. More overload equals more growth!

Band-Resisted Incline Dumbbell Presses

Unlike chains that are limited primarily to vertical barbell movements, bands can be used with dumbbells and machines like the pec deck.

One of my favorite dumbbell movements is the band-resisted dumbbell incline press. Below is a video of me training IFBB Pro Bodybuilder Branch Warren while performing the movement.

Bands are no longer just for powerlifting.

If your goal is aesthetics, size, strength or a combination, give this exercise and routine a shot.  Behind bars they call the chest the “hood”; you now have a weapon in your arsenal to build the biggest “hood” in your “hood”.