Working out with Elastic Resistance (rubber bands & tubing) is an essential functional training component for improving athletic power as well as improving flexibility and posture. This doesn't mean athletes shouldn't lift weights- because they should. But elastic resistance provides a unique form of loading that is ideal for developing a range of athletic abilities including: a faster rate of force production, a higher strength to bodyweight ratio, and improved flexibility with increased strength through larger ranges of motion.

Elastic resistance was once viewed more as a gimmicky “chest-expander" type exercise device or a tool for rehabilitation. Today, however, the majority of serious strength and conditioning communities utilize elastic resistance for various complimentary exercises and stretches as well as in combination with heavy free weight exercises (dead lift, squat, and bench press) to increase their strength and power. This is due largely to the efforts of Dick Hartzell, aka “The Rubber Band Man", who launched his Flex Bands in the early 1980's.

It is the “speed" of elastics that makes them special. While you can throw a lighter weight by producing enough force to overcome its inertia, you can't “throw" elastics. No matter how fast you move, you will not overcome the acceleration force of even a light resistance elastic band (even though you may continue to elongate it). So unlike weights, elastics will never leave your hand and leave you with zero resistance.

Weights, with their mass and inertia are ideal for increasing muscle mass and absolute strength, whereas elastics are best suited for developing speed and power. To give you some perspective: Gravity accelerates weight downward at a constant rate of 9.8 meters per second squared. Elastics accelerate much faster than this (think of an object shot from a sling shot, pointed straight up to the sky). The “speed" of elastics excites the nervous system to fire fast muscular contractions to match or overcome the elastic resistance. This makes something as simple as isometric holds with elastics quite dynamic and distinctly different than weights.

Here are 5 ways you can use elastics to become a faster and more powerful athlete:


Band Pull-Aparts will help strengthen the shoulders and upper back, which is the key to increasing safe shoulder mobility & stability and improved mechanics and postural integrity though the spine during pressing strength exercises/activities.

Band Pull Aparts - Shoulder Mobility

Hold a relatively light resistance band out in front of your chest with your arms straight. Pull the band apart and retract your shoulders, pausing at various stages of the pull apart before reaching your chest with the band.

2. Hip Flexor Holds:

Hip Flexor Holds help you flex your hip joints more powerfully which increases your running speed and agility.

Fasten a relatively light to moderate resistance band to a low hold and loop the other end around the front of your ankle/shin. Position yourself at a distance where you feel the tension of the band, but are still able to maintain a neutral position with your hips (not rotating to either side). Raise your foot up and drive your knee forward pausing at the top for isometric holds of 3-5 seconds.

**Another variation is to keep your knee straighter and “kick" the band forward to isometric holds again for 3-5 seconds.

3. Hip Abduction Drills:

Hip Abduction Drills will strengthen the medial glutes and hip abductors (outward hip movement) which will help stabilize the entire body and help prevent knee injuries.

Hip Flexor Holds - Prevent Knee Injury

Loop a small elastic band around your legs just above the knees and perform lateral steps slowly reaching out wide with each step of the lead leg. You can also perform forward and backward stepping drills to help strengthen and balance your hip flexors and extensors.

4. Dead Lift, Squat and Bench Press:

Adding elastics to these fundamental big lifts will increase the strength and power you can gain from these exercises.

Elastic Deadlift, Squat and Bench Press

You will need the proper set up - a squat rack, platform and/or bench with low holds to fasten the elastics. Fasten the bands to the bar in addition to weights and focus on driving the bar up as fast as possible. You can also perform isometric holds and make sure you have attentive spotters always.

5. Agility Drills to Improve Starts:

These exercises will help you develop more aggressive acceleration angles, joint stability, as well as a faster and more powerful agility force.

Elastic Band Agility Drills

Fasten your elastic band to a wall and strap it around your body with a belt or harness. Perform sprint starts against the elastic resistance driving forward with as an aggressive forward lean. Also perform lateral agilities, “W" drills and other movements in multi-directions against the elastic resistance.

These are only a few ways you can incorporate elastics into your routine. Stay tuned for elastic resistance videos on the WeckMethod blog and make sure you check out some of Dick Hartzell exercises as well.

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