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JYM Band Workout Breakdown

Exploring the many ways you can utilize resistance bands alone or incorporate them into your current program to enhance your workouts—and your results.

JYM Band Workout Breakdown

If you’ve been following me for a while, by now you know I’m a huge proponent of resistance-band training. If you haven’t, you may have been missing out on one of the most underestimated training tools available.

Although I’ll touch on the reasons why that is below, before you go any further I suggest you check out my article The Science of Strength Bands for a comprehensive breakdown of how resistance bands work, what makes them so effective, and why I not only recommend that you use them but also use them myself.

Below you’ll find a series of workouts—some focused on a few muscle groups, some targeting the whole body—many of which can be performed almost exclusively with a set of my JYM Strength Bands. Whether you’re working out on the road, looking to enhance your workouts at the gym, or just squeezing a session in at home, I guarantee there’s something here for everybody.

The Right Rep Tempo for Bands

For those who aren’t accustomed to them, strength bands can be somewhat confusing. One question I get a lot has to do with which tempo is best to use when training with the bands. One such example reads:

Dr. Stoppani, I have a question about the strength bands. Do you always have to perform each repetition fast? When using them for triceps, i'll do my reverse grip kickbacks to hit the medial head in a fairly controlled manner, then after the last set i'll move to the lightest band and perform them fast to really get the blood in the triceps. I pretty much follow your video you did on how to target the triceps, where it seems your using the bands in a controlled manner, however when should you perform the bands in a controlled manner, and when should use use them in a fast motion?

I can see where there has been some confusion. Bands can be used for training for power or for muscle development, as you clearly know. In my Chest and Triceps Workout video (embedded below), I use them in a slow and controlled manner for the point of illustrating how you can use bands when you can't get in a normal workout with weights.

However, due to the fact that their resistance increases the further you stretch them, you can do exercises fast and explosively with bands to build muscle power. I would suggest you do this as the first set or two of an exercise for only about 3-8 reps. This will build power. Then you can follow with slow and controlled reps. Then, if you want, you can finish with a set of fast reps to get blood to the muscle and to "burn out" the muscle being trained.

Using Bands On the Road

I travel with my JYM Strength Bands all over the world. Due to my recognition as one of the most academically awarded and renowned experts in the world on training, nutrition and supplements, I’m frequently on the road doing seminars, giving speeches and, from time to time, vacationing.

As you can imagine, sometimes it's not easy finding a proper gym out there, so I rely on JYM Strength Bands as my personal gym at times like these.

That isn’t to say that I'm making a sacrifice by using only bands—quite the contrary, actually. Bands provide a unique type of resistance not possible with free weights: Linear variable resistance, which in simple terms means the more you pull the bands, the more resistance they provide, as referenced above.

What isn't simple are the results you can achieve. Linear variable resistance with bands can increase power and strength, as well as improve muscle growth and even fat loss. Plus, the unique way in which it causes the muscle fibers to work can help you blast through ruts and prevent stagnation in gains in strength and size. In fact, research proves that adding bands to a strength-training program with free weights increases gains in strength and muscle mass better than free weights alone.

A couple other benefits worth mentioning: Convenience and practicality. The bands are so light that I can bring them in my suitcase or carry-on luggage and have over 400 pounds of resistance at my hands (and feet) with very little space taken up, and no excess baggage fee. Try accomplishing that with dumbbells.

One of my favorite band workouts I do when traveling is my On The Road circuit-training routine. It's a full-body workout that hits every major muscle group while incorporating some cardioacceleration for legs. The On the Road Workout also involves pyramid training, as you increase the resistance from the bands each time through the circuit.

For this circuit, I typically start with the eight pound bands. However, depending on your individual strength level, feel free to start lighter with three pounds or five pounds, or instead even heavier. The first round of the circuit will serve as a warm-up for most of the exercises.

Do one set each of the below exercises consecutively without resting. Do 12-15 reps per exercise and as many reps as you can until failure for exercises you can't do 12-15 reps with.

Once you complete all exercises, move to the next heaviest band and repeat the circuit. Keep repeating until you get to up to the 30 pound band, or until you can no longer complete more than five reps per exercise. If you can complete more than five reps using the 30 pound band, you can add extra bands to the handles for more resistance (i.e. 30 pounds plus 5 pounds).

Since you're limited on resistance for legs, do the leg exercise (the last exercise in the circuit) as one to two minutes of cardioacceleration in lieu of a one or two-minute rest period between rounds. However, you can also incorporate one or two other band leg exercises into the routine like band lunges, band side lunges, band front squats, or band leg extensions. When doing this, insert the other leg exercises between other upper-body moves to space them apart.

On The Road Band Circuit Workout

  1. Band Reverse-Grip Chest Press
  2. Band Low Row
  3. Band Shoulder Press
  4. Behind-the-Back Band Curl
  5. Band Kickback
  6. Band Lateral Raise
  7. Band Curl
  8. Band Overhead Triceps Extension
  9. Cardioacceleration: One to two minutes of squats (bodyweight or band), lunges, or step-ups

When you move up in resistance, some exercises—particularly the arm exercises—will become impossible to complete for five reps. On those rounds, just do the exercises you can perform at least five reps with—mainly the multi-joint moves for chest, back, and shoulders, plus the leg exercise at the end. That said, the later rounds of the circuit may look more like this:

  1. Band Reverse-Grip Chest Press
  2. Band Row
  3. Band Shoulder Press
  4. Cardioacceleration: One to two minutes of squats (bodyweight or band), lunges, or step-ups

This is the main reason I added extra arm exercises to the workout (there are two exercises each for biceps and triceps, yet only one each for chest and back). You'll likely complete fewer sets, or at least fewer reps, with the single-joint exercises compared to multi-joint moves. That way, the arms get sufficient training volume when they tire out in later rounds with the heaviest resistance.

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Cardioacceleration Band Workout

Clearly I’m a big fan of resistance-band training, but I’m an even bigger proponent of cardioacceleration. So, why not combine the two?

The following workout is a bands-only routine (plus some bodyweight moves) that’s great for when you don’t have access to other equipment, or if you just want to switch things up. It also serves as an effective alternative to cardio, targeting all the major muscle groups in the body and incorporating such training techniques as supersets, giant sets and, of course, cardioacceleration, all to keep intensity high and your heart pumping. The result is a brutal workout that builds power, strength, aerobic conditioning, and muscle mass while torching body fat.

The workout is broken down into five different exercise groups, each focusing on particular upper-body muscles—chest and back in the first two groups; shoulders in the third; biceps and triceps in the fourth; and abs in the fifth group—while incorporating legs and full-body movements as the cardioacceleration component. Complete all sets of each group before moving onto the next group.

The intention of this workout is constant movement, so keep rest to a bare minimum—not just within specific supersets, giant sets, and cardioacceleration periods, but also between body-part groups. Quite frankly, this workout will kick your glutes, but trust me, you’ll appreciate the fat-burning benefits and the cardiovascular adaptations when it’s over.

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Static Contraction/Pre-Exhaust with Bands

In this program, I’m combining three brutally effective training practices: Elastic bands, pre-exhaust, and static contractions. My muscles are burning just thinking about it. The below four-day workout split maps out the routine. But before you jump to the workouts, I'll give you some background on static contraction training...

The term “static” here means lack of movement and, as this term implies, with static training you take the bands and hold them in a fixed position without moving. This concept spawned from the idea that by forcing a muscle to work against resistance only when it's maximally contracted, you can optimize its growth potential. This is due mainly to the overload that's involved, as well as the novel stimulus with which it jolts the muscle.

Static contraction training may seem like a novel concept, but it's far from a new, radical training philosophy. In fact, Bob Hoffman, founder of the York Barbell Company and former U.S.A. Olympic Weightlifting coach, had members of the team use a similar training system—albeit with free weights—back in the early 1960s, with incredible success. The late Mike Mentzer, a professional bodybuilder and past editor of Muscle & Fitness, also touted the effectiveness of static contractions for building size and strength.

The best way to use the static contraction method is with exercises that allow maximal resistance at the muscles' strongest point of contraction. This is precisely why elastic bands are perfectly suited for static training. With bands, tension—and therefore resistance—increases the further you go through the range of motion, and since most static contraction exercises will be done when the bands are maximally stretched you'll be maximizing the resistance on the muscle. What's more, bands provide resistance from any direction, which allows you to keep the resistance on the muscle in any position of a static contraction.

That said, elastic bands aren't the only equipment used in the below workouts. You'll also find dumbbell and barbell moves utilized throughout, as variety is critical to maximizing results in strength and size.

With static training it's also important to limit help from assistance muscle groups, which means you want to choose isolation exercises to maximize the force placed on the target muscle. But in the below workout you won't only be using isolation exercises—rather, you'll follow them with multi-joint exercises using one of my favorite training techniques, pre-exhaust, to further boost training intensity.

With pre-exhaust, you train a muscle group with an isolation exercise first to exhaust it, then follow that up with a compound move. Using chest as an example, you'd do flyes and then some type of press. Exhausting the pecs first with the isolation exercises means that when you do presses the pecs will be the weak link, and you'll fail when the pecs are exhausted, not the assistance muscles like the triceps or shoulders. This technique makes the multi-joint exercise more effective at emphasizing the targeted muscle group.

Although the main static contraction exercises in the workouts will be isolation moves, you'll also do some static contraction on the multi-joint exercises. On these moves, after completing your 10th rep, you'll hold the static contraction in the midrange of the exercise for 20 seconds. For example, on squats you'll hold the static contraction in the midpoint of a full squat—basically a "half squat" position. On the isolation static contraction exercises, you'll perform 10 reps and then hold the static contraction about 1-2 inches short of the finish position for 20 seconds.

So give this bands/static contractions/pre-exhaust hybrid routine a try and see how your muscles feel. I imagine they'll feel some pain, but they'll feel some added size and strength too!

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JYM Bands Workout: Chest and Triceps

If you think bands are only for full body circuits or athletes training to maximize power and speed, think again. Bands can be used to achieve all the same goals you shoot for whe

Case in point: The classic "chest and triceps" workout that bodybuilding types typically have in their weekly training split. Body-part splits are great for building size and strength, as well as for overall physique enhancement. A standard chest and triceps gym workout would include presses and flyes for the chest using a barbell, dumbbells and/or cables, followed by extensions and/or pressdowns for the triceps with the same equipment.

When you're working with bands, the movements stay the same—only the equipment changes. And the results? The same as with free weights and cables: Stimulating the muscles with high intensity for gains in mass, strength and power and a great metabolism boost. But also, one added benefit: The "shock" from using a new type of resistance—linear variable resistance—for those accustomed to using only dumbbells and barbells.

That said, below is a great chest and triceps workout using nothing more than a set of JYM Strength Bands. Plug this routine into your training split whenever you want to change things up from your standard gym session, or if you're stuck at home with your only equipment being a set of bands. That's all you need to train any body part to full exhaustion for great gains!

The chest portion of the workout involves an incline press, plus two variations of chest flyes— Incline and "flat"—both performed standing. Rep ranges here a

For triceps, you'll start off with a challenging extended set on pressdowns. The kneeling variation is tougher than the standing version, as the band is stretched considerably more because you're closer to the floor. The two exercises after that are also classic moves: Overhead extensions and kickbacks. To focus on the medial head of the triceps, do the kickback with an underhand, reverse grip. Either way, your triceps will be sufficiently fried from this workout!

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Band Push/Pull/Legs Circuit

Below you’ll find videos showing you two great JYM Bands exercises: Band low crossovers as an alternative to low pulley cable crossovers, and band standing rows as a substitute for barbell bent-over rows.

These two moves cover chest and back, as well as some biceps with the standing rows, so why not add in a leg exercise and make it more or less a full-body workout? As I’ve mentioned in several articles in recent months, full-body training is my preference these days, mainly because hitting all major muscle groups in a single workout has been shown in research to burn more calories and fat than split-body workouts.

So what lower body exercise to add? For me, that typically depends on what equipment I have available. If I’m traveling—which I do most weeks—I’ll either do high-rep bodyweight squats or lunges, or a dumbbell version of one of those movements if the hotel I’m staying at has a decently outfitted fitness center. If I’m at home with a fully equipped gym at my disposal—either in my basement or at The JYM—and I want to incorporate the bands, I may do barbell squats with bands.

At the moment, my knee is still recovering from surgery, so barbell squats with bands is a bit too aggressive. Because of this, I’ll use a bodyweight leg exercise here. Let's go with jump squats. (Full disclosure: My knee is still not at a point where I can do jump squats, but I'm assuming most people reading this aren't recovering from massive knee surgery like me. Plus, one day soon I WILL be able to do jump squats again, at which point I'll definitely do this workout.)

Band crossovers, band rows, and bodyweight jump squats make for a great chest/back/legs triset. I'd typically choose all multi-joint exercises for this type of workout, and crossovers are obviously a single-joint isolation exercise. But that's okay. There are no set-in-stone rules in a workout like this. Just take every set to failure for anywhere from 3-5 sets and you'll get a great full-body workout, even if it's not fully taxing your triceps and shoulders.

Bonus tip: To increase the intensity of the workout, on your last one or two sets each of band crossovers and band rows, perform 1-2 drop sets per move. Here's how you do it: Upon reaching failure initially, take one step in toward where the bands are anchored—which will decrease the stretch and tension of the bands—and continue repping out to failure again. That's one drop set. I demonstrate this bands drop set technique near the end of the below band low crossovers video.

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Band Low Crossovers Video:

Band Standing Rows Video:

Get Yoked with Bands

You've probably heard the term "yoked" before—as in, "That guy's yoked!" The term is typically used to describe someone who's generally big and ripped. But the more literal meaning of the word refers specifically to the upper trapezius muscles or "upper traps", since an actual "yoke" is a type of solid harness placed on animals (like oxen) somewhere around the base of the neck.

However you use the term, it's certainly a compliment to be called "yoked," so I want to help you achieve that status. All of my programs on JimStoppani.com will help you get yoked in the general sense, but here I'm taking it more literal with a great upper traps workout.

The routine is centered around shrugs, with the added element of JYM Bands. As I've touched on before, elastic bands offer the benefit of linear variable resistance. As I explained above, this means the more you stretch the bands, the more resistance they provide. In the case of an individual rep, the resistance increases the further you go in the range of motion. With banded shrugs, at the top of the movement, when your shoulders are up near your ears, you'll be squeezing a super intense contraction in the upper traps. And—you guessed it—this will help you get yoked!

You'll be throwing a lot at your upper traps in this workout: Shrugs done with free weights alone using dumbbells; shrugs done with bands only as a finisher; and shrugs performed with dumbbells and bands simultaneously. It's only six sets total—two sets each for three different exercises—but that's sufficient volume for the upper traps.

This workout can be done on any number of days—after delts in a shoulders/traps workout; near the end of an upper body workout for those who follow an upper body/lower body split; after legs if you train legs and shoulders/traps together; before or after a HIIT session on a cardio day; or heck, on its own on a traps-only day. If you do Olympic lifts in your program, this workout would also make for a nice finisher after doing your cleans and/or snatches, since the upper traps are hit in both of those exercises.

Give this workout a try and let me know how your yoke is coming along by reaching out to me on my Facebook page or Twitter account.

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Band Y-Raise: Build Your Lower Traps, Stay Injury-Free

Obviously, I like a big set of upper traps as much as the next guy, but I also like to stay injury-free and train for balanced development. That's why I don't neglect my lower traps in the gym. Some people haven't even heard of the lower traps. Let's face it, the upper traps get all the love while the other two trapezius muscles—middle traps, lower traps—are usually treated as an afterthought. Well, not anymore...

Problem is, the upper traps tend to get overused, and I'm not even talking about the shrugs you do in the gym. Without even realizing it, your shoulders are often in an elevated, slightly shrugged position during the day—namely, when you're typing at your computer, texting or emailing on your phone, talking on the phone, and driving your car. Your upper traps are getting plenty of stimulation, much more than your lower traps. This can lead to posture issues as well as neck and shoulder pain. Most of us experience these issues on a regular basis. If left unaddressed, chronic neck and shoulder pain can and will lead to problems down the road. With imbalanced musculature, you're always flirting with injury.

The solution, then, is to counteract all that upper trap involvement with some isolated lower trap work. It's not much different than how you should approach your chest and back training—balancing your muscle development from top to bottom (upper and lower traps) is just as critical as balancing it from from front to back (chest and lats).

Hitting the lower traps is as simple as working in a lower trap exercise into your existing shoulders/traps workout. There are a number of exercises you can do for this, including straight-arm pushdowns and straight-arm dips, but another lower trap exercise I really like—demonstrated in the video below—is the Standing Band Y-Raise using a JYM Strength Band.

I prefer to do Y-Raises with a band, as opposed to cables or dumbbells, because of the linear variable resistance offered by the elastic tubing—the higher my hands get, the more tension the bands are providing and the more those hard-to-reach lower traps are getting stimulated. I demonstrate the Y-Raise start to finish in the below video, so check that out to see proper technique.

Below is a sample workout showing how to work Y-Raises into your shoulders/traps routine. Because shrugs and Y-Raises are essentially opposing exercises that target either end of the trapezius musculature—upper and lower—you can superset the two movements to save time.

That said, in this workout I kept both exercises as straight sets for one simple reason: If Y-Raises are a new exercise to you, it's probably a good idea to do them on their own so you can put all of your focus into getting a feel for the movement. Make sure you start off very light on Y-Raises, using the smallest resistance band you have available, and keep all reps steady and under control.

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