Top 50 JC Band Exercises

Most people know that in a previous life I taught high school Mathematics and Science for six years, so it goes without saying that I’m a huge fan of research and science. However, it often takes researchers around a decade or so to “catch up” to the most brilliant trainers and practitioners.

Case in point: My friend Martin Rooney has been preaching the benefits of barefoot training for ten years now! Ever since the book Born to Run came out last year it incited a barefoot-training supernova. Now researchers are finally beginning to take a closer look at some of Martin’s “theories” about training and running sans shoes. If you had the foresight to implement Martin’s advice years ago and had your athletes or clients perform their warm-ups barefoot, you could have been ten years “ahead of the curve.”

For years my friend Juan Carlos Santana has been extolling the virtues of band training and the “non-vertical vectors” that bands and pulleys allow one to train. The term “Functional Training” has grown in popularity and most trainers and coaches are programming most of their workouts in the standing position. While there are a myriad of amazing standing free weight exercises, bands and pulleys allow us to train various angles and load vectors that simply are not possible with standing free weight training.

An often overlooked caveat to these band and pulley exercises is the tremendous workload they place on the musculature of the hips and core regions. Advanced lifters and athletes can get an amazing workout with just about any piece of equipment. For example, I’ve been lifting weights for 17 years and I’ve found that I’m able to get an amazing full body workout with almost anything…my own bodyweight, a pair of dumbbells, a loaded barbell, or a kettelbell. A simple pair of JC extra heavy bands may very well be the best single piece of training equipment that allows for a functional full-body workout. As you watch the video below, try to envision the amount of tension on not only the prime-movers of the various exercises, but also the glutes, abdominals, obliques, adductors, hip flexors, erector spinae, hip rotators, and other core muscles during standing exercises. The best part about band training is that the stronger you get, the better of a full-body workout you receive since you have to stand further out to get optimal tension on the intended musculature which leads to increased demand of the stabilizing musculature of the hips and core regions.

Last night I thought up all the different exercises one could perform with a simple pair of JC Bands. I was pretty impressed with myself as I hadn’t thought of some of these movements until I sat down and wrote them out. The exercises range from relatively simple to highly advanced. I included many bodybuilding isolation type movements as well as sport-specific functional type movements. Again, try to get a sense of the amount of core-stabilization required during some of the standing exercises in the video. For example, a standing single arm fly may appear to be a simple chest isolation movement, however it is also an example of an “anti-rotation” core exercise which challenges many of the muscles in the core and hips, namely the glutes, hip rotators, multifidi, and obliques. This is multiplanar, multidirectional training at its best folks! It’s also worth mentioning that the shoulder stabilizers get hit extra hard during pressing movements due to increased stabilization efforts.

I believe that in due time researchers will prove how immensely valuable band training is in relation to training the body to work as a functional, cohesive unit and teaching the body’s upper, core, and lower body muscles to coordinate and summate forces to produce explosive movement.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwPKarwyo9k&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&border=1]

Warning: Watching this video may compel you to engage in an impromptu workout!

23 Comments

  • Mat says:

    Very nice video and great creativity on the lying exercises. So much info in such little time, just what I like to see.

  • Thanks Mat! Glad you like it.

  • Patrick Ward says:

    The band jammer press. Never even thought of that one!

    patrick

    • Patrick – I really like the jammer movement but it took some getting used to. The most natural foot placement to me involved flaring the rear foot out at around an 80 degree angle.

  • Len Ellington says:

    “For example, a standing single arm fly may appear to be a simple chest isolation movement, however it is also an example of an “anti-rotation” core exercise which challenges many of the muscles in the core and hips, namely the glutes, hip rotators, multifidi, and obliques.”

    Bret,

    This question will relate specifically to the quote above but could be applied to any movement performed in this nature with the bands.

    Where would you program this type of movement? For example, I look at that specifically as a core exercise with a bit of chest work as opposed to an exercise I’d use if I wanted to focus in on the chest of a specific pattern.

    Would you include such movements requiring added stabilization after a “primary” movement has been used that may allow for a bit more targeted stress?

    I love the fact this basically will dial in on the weakest link, but I know that some coaches like to get in work that can focus on improving strength and/or size and then use various other movements that can dial in on the weaker points (for example, a Pallof Press might be used for someone who needs to work on rotary stability but wants to “isolate” that focus a bit more).

    And on a somewhat related note, for those with access to a functional trainer, how do you compare cable exercises in some of these patterns to band movements?

    Bands are great for teaching max acceleration and often work well to accommodate strength curves, so this may be perceived as a step up on bands. Would the same caveats about eccentric stress with banded benching, squatting, and deadlifting apply to any “pure” band movement? When using heavier bands would it be importnt to give yourself a break from them/use them for 3-4 week periods and then rotate them out for a time?

  • Len – Great questions!

    1) It depends on the client/program. I have no problem saying an exercise sucks but the single arm fly actually works very well for the pecs and the core if you find the right angle (I found that if you stand at around a 45 degree angle you can work the pec in the stretch and contracted positions which was nice).

    If I was training someone purely for aesthetics, I would possibly throw it in toward the end of an upper body day (assuming a lower/upper split). If I was training an athlete, I would program it at the end of the workout as part of the “core component” of the routine.

    In truth, I’m okay with isolation movements but I could really see myself programming around five straight band movements as part of a “finisher” or conditioning circuit at the end of a workout. They’d be breathing like crazy and you could kill a bunch of birds at once…core, hip, and upper body strengthening along with conditioning.

    2) Yes, I’d almost always place a band movement after a more stable movement such as a barbell or dumbbell bench press or incline press. An exception would be during periods of deloading.

    3) It all depends on the client. If I was training a weak/beginner type I’d get them good at the Pallof press before prescribing them an exercise like the single arm band fly. When I progressed them to the fly movement I’d remind them about the Pallof press concept to cue them in. If I was training a more advanced client, I would sometimes use bands for core training and conditioning at the end of the routine (like I mentioned earlier), while sometimes I’d prescribe them stuff like Pallof presses, ab wheel rollouts, chops, lifts, side planks, etc. I’m also not opposed to throwing in straight leg sit ups and hanging leg raises every once in a while (blasphemy, I know). I like variety!

    4) I like to use the functional trainer sometimes and the bands sometimes. They’re just different! However, the bands require a more advanced lifter. Personally, I prefer the bands, but most of my clients couldn’t get a good workout with the bands as they don’t have enough “kinesthetic intelligence.” They don’t know how to move back or alter body position to increase the stress on the muscles, nor do they necessarily have a good balance of core and hip stability to get that good of a workout with the bands. Plus, the cables are more suited for progression, as you can chart the resistance and reps, whereas with bands you’d have to measure the distance.

    5) Accommodating resistance is great with more advanced clients, but beginners simply need to get good at straight weight. Accommodating resistance almost never truly matches strength curves as sticky points are usually in the mid range of compound lifts yet bands are proportionately progressive as the bands stretch. But like you say, a combination of free weights and bands (like squats against bands and plates) is different than pure band movements. I think that JC bands reign supreme for “power endurance” or “increased work capacity” or “high average power output” (whatever you want to call it) for the upper body. But plyos, Oly lifts, and jump squats would reign superior in this regard for the lower body.

    6) You’d certainly need a break from bands if using them in concert with the bar (deadlifts with bar plus plates plus bands, etc.), but you don’t need to worry about this with pure band movements, as they’re actually less stressful on the joints than free weights due to their decreased stress in the stretch position. This characteristic is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Bottom line, free weight is great, bands are great, use both!

    Hope this helps!

    Bret

  • Storm says:

    awesome !!!!, love the hip exercises… I’d also try the lying lateral raises on my stomach to hit read dealt and medial portion ! Brett you are the man !

  • Good idea Storm! Really there are an unlimited amount of variations you can do – you’re just limited by your imagination and creativity! Thanks for the kind words!

  • Bret,

    I did a post over on my site about your EMG article on Tmuscle as well as this video. Outstanding info. I have had the best intentions to add in some resistance band work into my routine, but keep putting this off.

    Did it take you a long time to get used to this type of resistance? To me it is a similar feel to Soloflex…my best friend’s family had one of these back in the early 90’s.

    Nice site, by the way.

    -Rusty

    • Thanks Rusty!

      It takes serious hip strength and stability. I wrote about it in another blog. In order to walk out far enough to do chest presses with a ton of resistance, your hips have to be able to stabilize your body in that position.

      My workout partner can bench 30 lbs more than me but my hips are a little bit stronger so he can’t walk out as far as I can when I do chest presses. He’s all over the place; squirming and energy-leaking like crazy.

      Granted, the resistance is accomodating and places more tension on the lockout for each exercise, but the increased stabilization efforts from the bands and deep stretch you get (since you can take the bands back a little further) allow you to hit the pecs really hard.

      But of course you need full body strength in order to give the pecs a great workout. I estimate that I can get up to 275 lbs of resistance if I walk out far enough for my chest presses. Maybe it’s 225 at the bottom ROM and 275 at the end ROM but I recommend trying it out. It takes around a month to get good at it but when you master it you’ll be able to get an amazing workout that is functional since it integrates all of the bodies muscles from a standing position and you can take the bands with you when you travel.

      Thanks again!

      Bret

  • Amazing video! Wow — so many great ideas all in 3 minutes. More please?!?

  • Tommy Deelite says:

    Really impressive data you’ve collected, Bret. Its refreshing to see empiricism to complement the overwhelming amount of subjectivity in the fitness community. Thanks for your contribution.

  • eaginspect says:

    Bret,
    Great video. This just gave me a ton of ideas! I have been working out in the woods, or anywhere in nature that I can, and this has opened up so many more exercises. I have done a lot of suspension training with a rope tied to a tree branch, because it’s easy to carry a rope in to the woods. Between regular body weight exercises, the rope, and these bands, there are an endless amount of exercises that can be done. Summer doesn’t last that long in Pittsburgh, so I like to spend as much time as I can outside of the gym when the weather is nice! Thanks man, nice site!

    Kelly

  • Jason Pearson says:

    Using resistance bands are great, i supplement them with dumbbells but now they are part of my life. Traing with resistance bands anywhere as they are so portable. I purchased them from http://www.suspensiontrainer.co.uk

  • gorge says:

    which chest exercises will help me getting rid off man boobs…..

  • Alex says:

    Do you, or does anybody else, have a list that I could print out of all 50 exercises and their explanations? That would be a huge help as I would really like to use all of these exercises and incorporate them more into my workouts however I do not have access to a computer that often.

  • Andy says:

    Absoultely great and creative ways to work your body through only resistance bands.
    I had recently bought one and was searching for a website which could educate me about the different exercises that could be done through resistance bands.
    Couldn’t thank you enough….
    And one more thing, since im new to resistance bands, could you please tell how to group the different exercises for different days so that you dont overwork a specific body part…..
    Thanks again….:)

  • Rubye Menton says:

    Great post, I will definitely come back to visit.

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