Banded pulling variations can be used for a multitude of reasons, from strength and hypertrophy for beginners to muscle mass and strength maintenance for the more advanced. Here we provide the benefits and potential short coming of banded pulls and 6 variations you can consider adding to your training programme.
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When learning the different movement patterns of resistance training, using bands can be a great tool. They help to lear the basic positions without having to deal with weight selection. They also help learn how to brace the spinal erectors as a lot of the single arm and even bi-lateral banded pulling movements will require a great deal of activation from the lower back muscles and obliques.
There are some excellent banded pulling variations for athletes who want to be sure to move through the full pulling range of motion. Most notably the cross-behind 1- Arm banded row, this mimics athletic movements such as those seen in contact sports where the rotation element of pulling is so important. Using high resistance banded pulls is under-rated for athletes and general population clients, this is a shame as it really can improve pulling power. That being said, if hypertrophy is the goal, then free weights should be the go to every time.
Personally I use these resistance band exercises in my and my clients deload weeks, it allows us to move through the pulling movement with reduced stress on the body and therefore enables us to recover from tough blocks of training.
For context, deload weeks are weeks where both intensity and volume are dramatically decrease in order to allow the body to recover after a training block that has become progressively more difficult over time.
Many of the exercises in this list are excellent as warm up exercise before using a free weight horizontal pull variation for strength and hypertrophy. They enable us to feel out the pulling movement, where our scapula needs to be positioned and brace our core.
Resistance bands are the most versatile of training equipment, so although they can be used to great efficacy in the gym they are a key tool to many who are training at home. Considering the amount of resistance they can create in comparison to how much they weight, they are part of the key tools for resistance training while travelling.
Resistance bands can be great for intermediate and beginner level trainees, but they simply do not generate allow us to create enough mechanical tension for high levels of muscle growth nor do the offer enough resistance to create strength adaptations once we are more advanced. This means for the beginner and intermediate they can be effective training tools and for the more advanced individual they can be effective at muscle mass and strength maintenance.
The Cross-behind 1-Arm Banded Row ismy favourite resistance band pulling variation to use as an athletic variation or a deload variation. When done with a lighter resistance it can feel great for the body to move through this rotation and pulling movement, especially after long periods sat at a desk. Using it with a higher resistance band or with heavy cables is also very effective for pulling power development which is an important physical attributes for athletes.
The floor seated alternating banded pull is a niche alternative resistance band pulling exercise that can be used as a warm up for more challenging pull variations or as a strength exercise for those who are very new to training and have been sedentary or are more elderly. Having variations can be a way to keep training slightly more interesting rather than constantly focusing on the same variations.
The seated banded pull is a great exercise to help build strength and muscle in the upper back for the beginner trainee. Females who struggle to lift weights over 5kg can see great benefits from these kinds of pulling exercises when progressed properly through a training block. Also companies like rogue fitness are producing bands that are very high in resistance, meaning more intermediate and advanced trainees can use exercises like this to their advantage.
The side plank banded row exercise is a mixture between a horizontal pull variation and a core exercise. This is for more advanced individuals who may be looking for challenging exercises, especially useful when on vacation with no access to weights. If this exercise is performed with high band resistance it can be extremely challenging even for advanced trainees.
The single arm seated pull is very similar to the bilateral version but will require more core engagement as the band will attempt to rotate the body and this rotation will need to be resisted with the core musculature.
This variation can be a tricky one, keeping your bodyweight fixed on the ground in the tall kneeling position actually requires a lot of core stability. It can be very hard not to pull yourself forward to where the band is fixed. Make sure you perform a few easier repetitions to feel out this movement before moving to a challenging resistance as you do not want to pull yourself aggressively forward.
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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.