Many strength training programs focus on developing strength before speed or explosiveness because strength is a precursor to explosiveness. Explosiveness will improve as strength improves. This is the approach we take in strength and power sports at Athlete Physics. Much of the speed and explosiveness improvements come from the athlete intentionally thinking about lifting the weight as fast as possible.
However, one downside of this approach is that weight or resistance remains the same throughout the entire range of motion (ROM). For example, think of the Squat. The hardest part is at the bottom, while the top is easy. The easiness at the top of the Squat means an athlete is no longer driving the weight as hard as possible; therefore, that athlete is not becoming as explosive as possible.
Few training methods exist to ensure athletes are developing explosiveness throughout the entire ROM. However, adding resistance bands to barbells can overcome this shortcoming. This method of training includes using thick elastic bands in combination with traditional weight for resistance.
As the elastic bands are stretched near the end of ROM the resistance gets harder, ensuring an athlete continues to drive as forcefully as possible. A study at the University of Louisville compared light/fast Squats, heavy/slower Squats and Band-Resisted Squats with moderate weight. The Band-Resisted Squats were shown to improve strength equally to heavy Squats and improved power better than light/fast Squats and heavy/slower Squats.
So what does this mean for you? Because the Band-Resisted Squats improved strength just as well as heavy/slower Squats, they are likely to be applicable for both novice and advanced athletes.
In essence, you’re able to use a lighter weight but challenge yourself through a full range of motion, increasing the effectiveness of the exercise and receiving the benefits of lifting heavier loads without the additional stress that comes along with it.
Here are a few examples of resisted exercises to help you get started:
Resisted Back Squat
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Resisted Bench Press
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