In this article, I am going to show you how to use resistance bands for speed, the correct way, so that your fast twitch muscle fibers will start to contract quicker than ever before. And, once you start training them the way I’m about to explain, you’ll be able to do things a whole lot better such as run faster, jump higher and kick a ball farther, to name a few. Exciting stuff for sure, so, let’s get started!
Resistance bands, or, speed bands have a very unique physical property known as variable elastic potential. This simply means that the more you stretch the band, the more resistance that is applied. Now, you may have already known this, however, it’s a really big deal when it comes to using them to develop more speed, but, not in the way you may be thinking… hold that thought. See Figure 1.
Figure 1. The Resistance Band.
Now, these speed bands are able to resist upwards of hundreds of pounds of force yet they weigh only a few ounces. This makes them extremely safe to use… another big deal!
Some people, however, think resistance bands have no real value in sports because they look rather weak and harmless when just lying around. This idea usually comes from athletes who are considerably bigger and stronger, as well as some coaches, thinking they require more aggressive means of improving their speed and strength. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Speed bands can be used as aggressively as the effort you desire to use them with, just like weights. All you have to do is combine several bands together, similar to adding more weight to a bar. This increases their total resistance making them strong enough to withstand as much muscular effort as you can possibly deliver in to them.
There are many advantages to resistance band training over other conventional types of exercise. One of them has to do with the positioning.
When using resistance bands, there is essentially an endless number of positions you can place your body in during an exercise to expose a weakness in your muscles so they can be quickened and strengthened.
However, with weights, many of those positions are not safe, or, practical. This is primarily because weights use gravity for resistance so the direction of resistance is limited, i.e., towards the ground. On the other hand, the resistance from a speed band can come from any angle or direction where it is attached, including overhead.
In addition, the lightweight resistance bands make potentially vulnerable positions worry-free when it comes to concerns about injury. In other words, if you ever find your muscles over-matched during an exercise, you won’t have to be afraid of a resistance band yanking you all the way back towards its attachment causing, perhaps, injury like you would a stack a weights. (Continued Below)
This program of ours has been around for 25 years! It uses resistance bands for faster running speed in just 14 days!
Most athletes tend to take the same strategy they use during weight training and apply it to resistance bands for speed — they tend to perform repetitions with the bands, stretching them back and forth, over and over again. This won’t work for speed, so, if that’s how you are using them then you need to continue reading.
The problem with using the resistance bands with repetitions is that when you start an exercise, your muscles are typically at their weakest position. This is also where an un-stretched band has the weakest resistance. So, the beginning of a repetition with a band provides little value to you.
As the repetitive motion begins, your muscles move into a little stronger position. The band then stretches and more resistance is created. This is just, okay, but it won’t get you very far where muscle speed and development are concerned.
Towards the end of the exercise, you are in your most dominant position. Therefore, you are typically at your strongest to match the increased resistance of a more fully-stretched band. This is a little better, but again, far from ideal where speed is concerned. So, here’s the thing.
By using the bands this traditional way, i.e., with repetitions, you tend to only exercise the latter half of the muscle’s range of motion and even then, the effort isn’t consistent. Furthermore, this ‘latter half’ of a muscle’s range of motion is rarely approached during a sporting event and so it isn’t exactly the sweet spot of where you want to focus your efforts, if given a choice.
As a result, there’s very little value in regards to improving your fast twitch muscle speed using the bands like this.
This is one reason why holding a speed band steady for 10-15 seconds, with strong resistance, along several places throughout the muscles range of motion is a much better strategy. This is called isometric training and is the technique taught in all of our programs.
Now, this may sound simple and as far as performing an exercise, it really is. However, what happens to your fast twitch muscle fibers and the effects it has on an athlete’s speed is simply astounding. I’ll explain this in more detail here in a bit, but first, let’s look at an example of how this is done.
Sample Exercise: to create resistance with the band at the beginning of an exercise movement, simply attach your band to a stationary object and slowly step away from it to pre-stretch the band. You want to get to a position so that your effort level feels around 70-80% of what you think your maximum output would be to keep it there. Then, hold it in a certain position for 10-15 seconds such as in Figure 2 below.
Figure 2. How to Use Resistance Bands for Speed Exercise.
You can do this for any exercise position or resistance you like by simply positioning yourself so the band has more stretch and more resistance, making each exercise as difficult as you would like.
Perhaps the biggest advantage to using the resistance band with an isometric training strategy has to do with improving your speed and quickness while running. And, the exercise shown in Figure 2, above, is perhaps the single best exercise you can do for your Hip Flexors to help you accomplish this.
Okay, now let’s talk about how this works. When you perform an exercise using the speed band with an isometric training strategy, you can get to a point where your muscles start to give out, or, weaken due to the demand the resistance band is placing on them.
When this happens, you’ll notice your muscles starting to shake, even slightly, while attempting to hold a steady position. This shaking will cause two things to happen to the resistance band and they are: 1) a change in the length of it as well as 2) a change in the direction in which it pulls. you.
Both of these things will happen, even it it’s just a little bit, no matter how hard you try to remain still. This is because the band is a highly sensitive piece of exercise equipment, more than capable of sensing these changes. So, let’s talk about the effects on your muscles when the resistance band changes length, first, since that’ll be easier to follow and I’ll save a discussion on the effects of directional changes for another post.
Now, the changing length of the speed bands will then alter its resistance level since its resistance level is a function of its length…think ‘variable elastic potential’ that I mentioned, earlier. As a result, this change in resistance, however small, is immediately perceived by the fast twitch fibers within the muscle used in the exercise, forcing them to respond, i.e., forcing them to adjust their own output to hold the position, still.
And because many athletes are not prepared for these sudden and even subtle changes in resistance, the coordination of their fast twitch muscle fibers becomes overwhelmed, or, confused.
This goes on, continuously, with breathtaking speed for as long as the exercise takes place and for as long as your muscles are fighting for control.
You want to generate as many new and different stimuli into your fast twitch muscle fibers as you possibly can in as short a period of time as you can, to get them to react to these changes. The resistance band can deliver this like nothing else.
However, it has to be done on a level that you aren’t in total control of, i.e., involuntarily, such as here during an isometric hold in order to produce the physiological effects in your muscles necessary for faster contraction speed.
These effects can never take place when using the speed bands with a weight-lifting, i.e., repetitious strategy because you never get to the point where the muscles lose control long enough. So, now you know how to use resistance bands for speed, properly!
People who use the resistance band with an isometric training strategy, the way we teach it, quickly see amazing improvements in their running speed, jumping height and, kicking power and distance in just a matter days. It’s possible for you to achieve similar results. We know you can do it and would love to help.
So, if you’re ready to become a better athlete, literally within days, then pick up a copy of the Run Faster program, today. We’ve already figured out the best positions your body needs to be in to do these types of exercises as well as what schedule works best, making it that much easier for you to succeed!
About the Author of this post: Dr. VanSuch is a chiropractor and former electrical engineer. He developed the speed training method that uses resistance bands with an isometric training strategy to help athletes run faster starting way back in 1996. He has been teaching this technique to athletes, coaches and parents for the last 25+ years and has quite an extensive list of testimonials found throughout this website. Dr. VanSuch’s speed training programs are for running, kicking, jumping as well as swinging a golf club, baseball bat or tennis racket. He also has written an MMA speed program. Athletes of all fitness levels have used his training method with great success. He looks forward to hearing from all those who come across his work and are wanting to learn more. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org