Adding instability to your weight training in the form of unstable surfaces or reducing points of contact was all the rage a while ago. But mixed with social media and the fight for eyeballs, some may have taken creativity a bit too far.

It was (and still can) more circus trick than strength training. And although some moves may generate a bunch of social media likes, doing some of these risky moves may increase your chances of a visit to the ER. The point of strength training is to get stronger, not to break.

However, what if there is a way to add instability to your workout, get stronger, and perform specific exercises with better form?

That’s where chaos band training comes into play. In 2005, James “Diesel” Smith developed the chaos pushup by looping a resistance band around a squat rack and turning a relatively stable exercise into an unpredictable one. From that move, chaos band training—when done properly—has become an excellent alternative method to add instability and intensity without resorting to circus tricks.


Chaos band training adds instability and unpredictability to an exercise by adding a looped resistance band, and you can do this in one of three ways.

  • Method 1: Looping a band around a squat rack at varying heights.
  • Method 2: Looping bands around a kettlebell or weight plate.
  • Method 3: Adding weight to a fixed barbell that is “suspended” by looped bands.

As the band “bounces” (or oscillates), it forces you to recruit extra muscles as you now have to focus on your form more. Because if you don’t concentrate, things could get “chaotic” quite quickly.

Although Method 3 is a fantastic way to add intensity (and very difficult)  to your barbell lifts, it’s geared more toward advanced athletes. Here we’ll focus on the first two as a slightly more stable introduction to chaos training.

3 Benefits of Chaos Band Training

When chaos band training is performed, sensibility as part of your accessory training; it’s an excellent way to add variety and extra stimulus to your muscles without adding weight.  Here is a few benefits chaos training provides.

  • The band oscillation with the upper body exercises provides additional rotator cuff recruitment because the lifting path is not fixed on each repetition. Because of this, it improves your core stability, balance, and control while lifting.
  • Chaos band training trains the body’s smaller stabilizers (shoulder, core, and hips) while improving proprioception (awareness of your body in space). Plus, you’ll be the coolest-looking lifter in the gym.
  • The chaos band’s unstable nature will inform you about any deviation in your form, helping you lock down technique with bodyweight exercises such as push-ups and hip thrusts.

Use Caution When Performing Chaos Band Training

Any time you lift with instability, whether it’s a stability ball, Bosu ball, TRX, or chaos band training, there is an element of risk. So, it helps if you have a good strength base and have mastered the basics before attempting chaos training. If you’re a beginner, get the fundamentals down before performing advanced methods like Chaos training.

Chaos training demands a lot from the hip, core, and shoulder stabilizers and is an excellent method to strengthen them. But if you’re returning from injury or rehab, Chaos training is not the best idea. Better to stick with the basics and be guided by your doctors and not put yourself at further risk of injury.

If your goal is absolute strength, then Chaos training, as beneficial as it is, is not the best idea either. Because of the reduced load due to the instability, you will not lift the most load possible. But if you’re willing to reduce load and increase reps for more volume, go right ahead.

But if you are healthy, willing to handle a reduced load, have decent core strength, and looking for variety in your training, then take the following four exercises for a test drive and prepare to be humbled.

4 Chaos Band Training Exercises

When you’re ready to add intensity and coolness to your strength training, take these four chaos exercises below for a spin. You will be pleased with the added chaos for a change.