The bench press with bands, also known as the banded bench press, is a strength-training exercise where you attach a resistance band to a barbell so that you add more resistance as you press the weight.
The purpose of adding a resistance band to the bench press is to alter the ‘strength curve.’
The strength curve is the gap that exists between the force you should produce to move the barbell completely versus the force you can produce in an actual sense.
Required equipment: Resistance band, bench, barbell
How to do it:
- Loop the band over one end of the barbell.
- Pull the band beneath the bench till it appears on the other side of the bench.
- Loop the other side of the band over the opposite end of the barbell.
- Make sure both ends of the band are inside the sleeves of the collar.
- Lie on your back on the bench.
- Grip the barbell with both hands. Your hands should be slightly wider than your shoulder width.
- Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground and your hips on the bench.
- Lift the bar off the rack slowly then lower it to your chest, allowing your elbows to bend out slightly.
- Press the bar off your chest as you extend your arms.
WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE BENCH PRESS WITH BANDS WORK?
Benching builds and strengthens the pec major muscle on your chest, giving it a larger and stronger appearance. The pec major is one of the prime movers in this exercise.
The bench press with bands helps build and strengthen your tricep heads as you go through various ranges of motion.
With stronger and bigger triceps, you will find it easier to execute other press exercises.
BENCH PRESS WITH BANDS BENEFITS
INCREASES UPPER BODY STRENGTH
Since it mainly targets upper body muscles, this exercise helps you gain strength from lifting and lowering the bar with the advantage of extra resistance from the band.
TRAINS THE WHOLE BODY
As much as it focuses on the upper body, this exercise actually engages the whole body if you use the correct form.
When done properly, the bench press with bands activates muscles in almost every part of your body.
BETTER BONE HEALTH
Like most compound movements, the bench press with bands adds resistance on the structure of the body, which improves your bone health.
ALTERNATIVES TO BENCH PRESS WITH BANDS
The floor press is one of the best ways to do a bench press without an actual bench.
It forces you to work extremely hard within the top half of your range of motion, strengthening your lockout and working through the sticking points.
How to do it:
- Lie on your back on the ground/floor under a bar.
- Grab the bar just slightly past shoulder-width. Use a neutral grip.
- Lift the bar off the rack, keeping your lats engaged and your wrists stacked.
- In a slow and controlled motion, lower the bar towards your chest.
- When your arms get to the ground, pause for a few seconds then lift the bar to full extension. That’s a complete rep.
BAND RESISTED PUSH-UP
This exercise is a great way to create and maintain muscle strength if you cannot access a bench.
The push-up engages the same muscles as the bench press with bands, while using a resistance band and your body weight as resistance.
How to do it:
- Hook each end of the band over your palms or thumbs so that it is resting against your upper back muscles.
- Get into the plank position and stack your hands under your shoulders.
- Tighten your core and lower your body towards the ground while your elbows stay tucked.
- Pause at this position for a few seconds then get back to the starting position. At this point, you’ve completed a single rep.
BENCH PRESS WITH BANDS MISTAKES TO AVOID
USING A THICK BAND
For the bench press, you can use a 0.5-inch band or a 1-inch band. If the band is too thick, you might need to reduce the bar load as it would make the lock-out too difficult.
Reducing the bar load could drastically reduce the effectiveness of the exercise.
NOT WARMING UP
As much as your upper body is mobile enough to let you bench without warming up, skipping the warm-up session before doing a bench press is not a good idea.
Like every other compound exercise, the bench press requires that you raise your body temperature high enough to activate your muscles so that you find it easier to move while executing it.
Not warming up will not only put you at risk of injury but also make weights feel heavier than they should because of the sudden increase in intensity.
NOT TOUCHING YOUR CHEST
A full-range-of-motion bench press requires that you make contact with your chest on every single rep.
There are certain bench press variations where you are not required to lower the bar to your chest like the pin press, but in the bench press with bands, the bar should make contact with your chest.
BOUNCING OFF YOUR CHEST
While you are lowering the bar and making contact with your chest, don’t bounce it off your chest.
You should instead lower the bar in a slow and controlled motion so that your arms get enough time under tension.
GRIPPING TOO WIDE OR TOO NARROW
Your grip of the barbell is important because it determines whether or not you will be able to activate the right muscles.
A grip that is too narrow will focus on your triceps while one that is too wide will only focus on your pectorals.
Shoulder width is a good place to start but if you wish to widen it, you can move it to about an inch or two past shoulder width.
NOT PRESSING YOUR NECK ON THE BENCH
Avoid lifting your head off the bench as you are performing this exercise. This can affect your ability to maintain the correct bench press form and put you at risk of neck injury.
To prevent this from happening, you should press your neck onto the bench and ensure it stays that way even as you raise the bar.
STICKING YOUR ELBOWS TOO FAR OUT
Also known as ‘flaring the elbows,’ this common mistake compromises your technique as you lower the bar.
Your shoulders should always be slightly pointing towards the ground as you lower the bar and touch your chest with it.
Not flaring your elbows will allow you to fully activate your chest muscles and get the most out of the lift.
While doing the bench press with bands can be extremely helpful if you want to increase your muscle strength, it may be a bit too much for beginners.
If you are a beginner, you can just start with the simple bench press then add bands sometime later after you have completely mastered the movement.
This exercise will likely be very beneficial to you if you are an intermediate or advanced lifter with two years of experience or more.
You should also make sure you set up the band correctly to create the appropriate amount of tension since it determines the effectiveness of your workout.