I’ve been working at the same gym for a shade over 2 years now.
Ever since I started, we’ve been taping together 2 ends of black (extra heavy) theraband and using that for all sorts of different movements around the gym. It works great for things like monster walks with the band around the feet but doesn’t work so well for other activities.
A couple of things about this bothered me:
1. There was only one resistance. For targeted shoulder exercises that I often use to activate before upper body lifts, this was far from ideal. It was too difficult for most people, leaving me to do many exercises with no band; not allowing for external feedback on when they’re letting their shoulders slip into internal rotation.
2. The therabands were nasty on the skin and often rolled away from where we wanted them. If I had someone doing a banded clamshell (because I get people so jacked they need a band for clamshells), the band would often start just above the knee and end just below the hip. This left the client much less focused on externally rotating their hip and more focused on the band that was slowly creeping up their leg.
After begging our owner to buy PerformBetter mini bands for quite some time and having a couple of recent conversations with our athletic therapists (who need them even more than I do), I bit the bullet and ordered the bands myself.
Needless to say; when they showed up last week, it was like a Christmas miracle.
So, today I’m going to explain 10 ways I like to use PerformBetter mini bands and how you can start implementing them in your training. That is, if the owners will buy the damn things. But maybe you could keep this article on the shelf for a couple years until they’re purchased.
For The Shoulders
When it comes to our jacked-up shoulders, there are two main tenets that are often in need of some improvement.
1. External Rotation – including the rotator cuff and rear delts
2. Scapular Depression – including the lower fibres of the traps
We essentially need to reverse this…
Enter the PerformBetter mini bands.
These bad boys pack a punch that you wouldn’t expect and will have you trembling worse than me if I don’t get a coffee in me by 10 AM.
First, I like to use them to ‘upgrade’ several exercises.
The bands can be used in both the pushup position and the traditional plank on the elbows.
The best cue here is to think about pulling your wrists apart – a great isometric test for those rotator cuffs.
Once someone becomes proficient at the bear crawl, I simply have them slide a yellow or green band around the wrists and continue on as they were.
Nothing to see here; just a robotic bear with a bright band around the 2 front paws… move along.
Plank Side Steps or Lateral Bear Crawls
These go hand in hand as they essentially work on the same thing; but even the miniest of mini bands can add a pretty substantial test to the shoulders.
Then we can go into some movements that are designed to crush you… like Ivan Drago.
Mini-Band No Money with Front Raise
This is a double whammy and hits ya right in the kisser twice.
First, perform what I call a “no money”. Elbows pinned to the sides, ribcage locked in, bringing the wrists apart.
Once that becomes manageable, add in a static hold and slow front raise. This will torch the lower fibres of the traps and middle of the back; leaving you feeling it for days.
Mini-Band Wall Slide
Here’s another gem for the lower traps and mid-back that will keep those shoulders happy while you’re ripping bench press all day.
Stand to face the wall with the band around the wrists and the forearms on the wall. Slide the hands and forearms up the wall; maintaining a tall posture with the ribcage locked down. The goal is to keep the wrists outside the elbows all the way through.
If your elbows slip outside the wrists, you’ve gone further than you can manage.
For The Hips
Do you ever have any soreness on the inside of your knee or feel/see your knees wanting to fall in when squatting or lunging?
It could be some weakness in your external hip rotators and PerformBetter mini bands are the perfect tool to stabilize ‘dem hips.
We’ll start on the ground and move our way up to standing.
Before I knew the hack I’m about to show you, 90% of people did this exercise wrong. They’d do a set and say they didn’t feel it working their butt. I’d cue them over and over to keep their hips facing forward but most people just couldn’t get it.
So I forced it to happen by putting them against a wall.
I love the clamshell because it works on external rotation of the hips with slightly flexed knees, very similar to a squat position. The floor also provides external feedback for the bottom leg, making it work as well (sneaky, I know).
NOTE: I am not against a wall here, but that’s because I’m the coach and I don’t need the wall.
Side-Lying Leg Raise
Here’s another one where a slight tweak in form and a move over to the wall can send someone’s glutes into a fit of muscle burning joy.
I like to keep the lower leg flexed- the same as the clamshells, so that the working leg has to extend, externally rotate, and abduct (all the jobs of the external rotators).
Make them slide their heel up a wall and you are golden.
Mini-Band Side Steps
This is one of my favourites to toss in as either a warm-up (to get those glutes firing) or a finisher for high reps (to get those buns burning like a mofo).
A simple enough set-up; just place the band above the knees (easier) or around the ankles (more challenging) and tell ‘em to squat and side step.
Problem is, people often lean and compensate however they can when their glutes start tiring out.
Cues become key here. I will usually go with one or both of the following:
– Focus on pushing off you back leg instead of pulling with your front leg
– Keep the upper body tall and perpendicular to the floor (a mirror helps here)
Here is the band above the knees…
And here is the band at the ankles…
Mini-Band Monster Walks
Monster walks are another one that can be placed before or after main lifts, but should be adjusted accordingly.
If you’re wanting to wake up the glutes and get them ready to squat or deadlift, keep the reps medium and the band relatively easy. If you want to literally finish your glutes, get a thicker band and go to town.
I’ll bring in my man, John Rusin to show you the way.
Here’sa nasty tweak for your deadbugs (one of my favourites already) courtesy of my boy Brayden Miller.
Thanks to his client, Chris for letting us film his first time ever doing these with the band.
That concludes a massive rundown of 10 exercises you can hit with a simple mini band. Build these into your warm-up; put them between sets of main lifts or just crush your important-but-neglected stabilizers into oblivion.
Remember, I can crush a number of ways and I don’t need much equipment to do it.
To the burning sensation,
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