I am going to start with what I think is some pretty basic information about the resistance band that you may already know, and then I am going to give you what I consider as bonus information, information that I haven’t shared with anyone about how dynamically your muscles respond when you use the resistance band with an isometric training strategy, and how that will make you dramatically faster in a very short amount of time!
First, when most people start to exercise with the resistance band, what tends to happen is that the same types of routines they normally do with weights tends to carry over with the resistance band used in their place.
What this means is most weightlifting exercises are usually done while performing repetitions with the weights, where the muscles are exercised through their full range of motion.
The biceps curl with a dumbbell is one example: While holding the dumbbell down by the side, the forearm is flexed at the elbow until the weight held in the hand ends up in front of the shoulder, and then lowered back down again. This process is typically repeated 8-12 times.
Through habit more than anything else, this same strategy is carried over with the exercise bands. The most likely first attempt at an exercise when one is handed a band is to do the repetitions with them. The band is typically used as a resistance aid, in place of the weight, to exercise a muscle through its full range of motion.
Certainly, you have seen others do this in the gym or perhaps even done so yourself, right?
First, when training with resistance bands, you should know that when you start an exercise, your muscles are typically at their weakest point. This is because your joints are typically fully extended where you cannot get much leverage over the exercise, and there is no momentum created from the exercise just yet that you can initially take advantage of.
Now, combine this with the resistance band having not yet been stretched to a point where there’s any real resistance from it, and you can see that the beginning of any exercise using an un-stretched band will have little or no effect on your conditioning.
As you proceed with the exercise, the range of motion of the joint being exercised starts to increase, and as that is happening, the band is starting to stretch, increasing in resistance. Remember, the resistance bands resistance is a function of its length when stretched.
The more you stretch it, the greater the resistance. So, you end up at a point in the exercise where your leverage over it is very high and the resistance of the stretched band is now also very high.
So, by using bands with a repetitive strategy similar to weight training, the only real affect they have on the muscle is during the latter part of the exercise. But there is a far more effective strategy for using them, especially when you want to develop greater speed of contraction and muscle coordination.
A more efficient way to use them is to position yourself such that the band gives you strong resistance at a point within the range of motion and then hold that position for 10-15 seconds, without moving; this is considered an isometric contraction with the band.
While you are holding the band in a fixed position, what happens after just a few seconds, if the resistance is high enough, is your muscles begin to weaken and soon after begin to shake and start to give out as you fight to maintain this position.
This shaking, however slight, does two things: first, it instantaneously and continuously changes the length of the band, however small those changes are, and second, it changes the angle of the band’s force as well.
Therefore, the level of resistance and the direction of resistance the band now supplies back to your muscle is also changing instantaneously and continuously, because the force supplied by the band is entirely dependent on its length and the angle in which it is being used.
As a result, these ongoing and continuous small changes in force and direction by the band totally disrupt the isometric contraction that you are trying to hold; and it sets off all of your proprioceptors and stretch receptors within your muscles and tendons into a completely unique and different pattern.
One, it causes an immediate over-stimulation of the muscle fibers when the resistance drops in the muscle, and you have to make up for it and, second, it causes an immediate understimulation of the muscle fibers when the resistance momentarily increases in the muscle, and you have to lighten up a bit.
This happens quickly and continuously for as long as you fight to maintain a steady position.
These ongoing and ever so small changes in the resistance bands force and direction are constantly being perceived by receptors in your muscles and tendons and it causes them to instantly adjust the force needed to hold the band in a steady position.
These adjustments in muscle contractions occur at an incredibly high rate.
Again, the band’s resistance changes based on the length when it is stretched, even if just millimeters, and the resistance also changes based on the angle in which it is attached even within a degree; and, because it always pulls back toward its attachment, it doesn’t always act straight down to the ground like the weight, which relies on gravity.
This means that the direction of force as well as the amount of force will continuously change, even with very small movements of the muscles holding the band, forcing the muscle to learn to quickly react and adjust to these changing forces.
So now what you have to deal with is a multidimensional force acting on your muscles. Any tiny change in muscle movement, whether it’s slightly up or down, slightly to the left or right or any combination of these instantaneously alters the amount of resistance given back by the band, and it alters it’s direction of force as well.
The proprioceptors in your muscles and tendons constantly perceive these changes in force and direction and cause the muscles to respond entirely differently than with any other training routine.
This is how the resistance band with an isometric contraction gives your muscles a more complete and mature development in a way that cannot be attained using weights or any other training technique.
This is why athletes using this type of muscle training are quickly and dramatically improving in speed and precision in all their sports skills.
In addition to all of this, here are three additional reasons athletes are improving their athleticism by using the resistance band with an isometric contraction:
First, because each recruitment pattern of the muscle fibers holding the resistance band is now new for your muscles, the forces supplied by the band will instantly expose your muscle’s weaknesses and lack of coordination that went undetected with other routines.
This causes your muscles and nerves to create new neuro-pathways, or muscle memory, within the muscle and causing it to immediately become t stronger and with more speed, quickness and coordination than ever before.
Second, when you train the way we show you in our training manuals, the mass and weight of the muscle does not significantly increase. If it did, this extra weight on your body could potentially offset the gains in speed.
Whenever you are able to increase muscles’ strength, speed, quickness and coordination without adding any additional body weight, your speed and athletic performance will automatically increase.
Third, Imagine applying this strategy in not only conventional movements and positions, as in the biceps curl, but also in ways and body positions you may have never thought of before or perhaps were prevented from doing because of fear of injury from weights.
When you use the unconventional positioning, which are safe and easy to do with bands, you will immediately expose weaknesses in your muscles and then eliminate these weaknesses by developing strength and quickness in those positions, leading to an even more improved athletic performance.
This is why, if you have read through some of our testimonials, athletes are reporting back to us with what sounds like crazy, hard-to-believe increases in their running speed, jumping ability, kicking distance, swing speeds, serving speed, etc., after just a a few days of training, but this is exactly the kind of results we expect to get.
Here are the steps you can take right now to quickly improve your speed, outperform your bests and get closer to reaching your athletic goals:
Continue doing the exercises for as long as you continue to improve and get additional resistance bands when you need more resistance.
You will be beating all of your personal bests, even if you are already an all-star performer right now.
Your speed and new abilities will get the attention of coaches, scouts, teammates and others. You will have more confidence in yourself and feel more in control. You will be one step closer to being at the top of your game and achieving your athletic goals.
Always glad to help!
Dr. Larry Van Such