Last time, we gave an introduction to resistance bands as an easy way to get into resistance training and do a wide array of exercises without having to worry about weight lifting. Resistance bands are such a useful tool for combat athletes, but they’re often used in rather silly ways, rather than ways that will actually be beneficial to the fighter.
This week we will be looking at pulling exercises using the bands, and unlike pushing exercises, there are a lot of resisted versions of martial arts movements that will immediately translate into improved skills
We spoke before on why you shouldn’t load up your strikes with bands, but we’ll re-iterate here rather than as you to read the previous article again. Fighters often do this to make their punches faster and stronger, but in reality loading up a skilled technique will have a negative affect on your striking.
Muay Thai S&C Coach Don Heatrick explains here:
Despite what Heatrick says here, there is a way we can use resistance bands to directly benefit our punching, which we will show later in the article, but it works in a fundamentally different way to punching through the bands.
1. Band Assisted/Resisted Pull Ups
Pull ups are some of the most challenging exercises out there, especially for a beginner. Often we have a warped idea of how many pull ups is realistic for a beginner to be able to do. It’s easy to get disheartened when you’re not able to do the reasonable sounding 3 sets of 10. Those are actually advanced numbers when it comes to pull ups, but the resistance bands are immensely useful for someone wanting to do pull ups regardless of their skill level.
Loop the band safely around the pull up bar and make sure that you can reach at the very least your knee into the band. Some people may be able to step into the band altogether if they have a particularly long one. Then start doing pull ups, ensuring your head goes over the bar and your elbows are nicely down by your sides at the end of the movement. You will find that your body will spring up somewhat at the start of the pull up and you will be able to do more than normal. If you are still not able to achieve a pull up, use a stronger band. Normally thick bands will make for a harder exercise, but in this case the resistance bands become assistance bands and will give you a better boost.
2. Band Assisted/Resisted Chin Ups
You can do the exact same thing for the chin up, which will target the bicep more. This also trains in a similar motion to the double collar tie, that is commonly used in Muay Thai as a beginner clinch hold. It will have direct impact on your strength in the clinch.
Of course, if you are already a pro when it comes to pull ups and you can manage them easily, the resistance band can also be a way to break through the plateau, when you do your normal sets of bodyweight only, you can use the resistance band to add an extra easier set, to overload the exercise. Or alternatively if you don’t want to add an extra set, you can attach the resistance band to something on the floor, or something heavy to add resistance to your basic pull up or chin up in order to make the exercise harder overall.
Either way, you will get more out of it.
3. Banded Deadlift
The banded deadlift isn’t as challenging as a weighted one. This is because deadlifts are hardest at the start of the movement, and unfortunately this is where bands are easiest. But as Shakespeare said, ‘it’s better to have deadlifted with bands, than never to have deadlifted at all’.
Step into the band in your athletic stance, grab the band and then hinge at the hip, bending over, then pull up and bring your chest open and out, bringing your glutes together. The deadlift is one of the most beneficial exercises out there when it comes to overall strength and power. Don’t skip out on it.
4. Reverse Banded Punches
We’ve talked a lot on why you shouldn’t load up your punches, so why am I recommending this exercise from boxing coach Frans Sands. Well, in this exercise you are not adding resistance to the punch itself, you are adding resistance to the retraction of the punch. Banded punches don’t work because they slow down the movement and add resistance to a part of the movement where no resistance is needed, thus sacrificing form.
These reverse banded punches are making the body work harder to retract the punch, the part of a punch that move people neglect. Becoming more efficient with the retraction will improve the overall speed of the punch.
Remember punches are not pushing motions, they are pulling motions. Power is generated from one shoulder pulling the other arm through the target.
5. Banded Throws
Finally we come to banded throws. This is a staple of Russian Judo and Sambo, practising uchikomi with bands will not only add resistance to strengthen the body, but creates a more realistic feeling when practising uchikomi. There are a variety of exercises here, so we’ll close by letting the experts demonstrate how it’s done.
See you next time.