Traditionally you would use resistance bands, no matter if you use the tube or loop style bands, without a bar – but there are several exercises and variations that you can improve by using a bar along with the resistance bands.
In this article here I have several types of bar setups and also multiple good tips to help you avoid typical mistakes when adding a bar to your resistance band training.
Why Using A Bar With Resistance Bands?
You normally have either handles attached to your resistance bands or you can make loops so you can grab them directly and also do both-handed exercises with them – but here’s the “but”.
With some exercises, you will have a lot of force against your wrists and it happens that your wrists are not strong enough to carry through a whole set of exercises and you can’t really work your muscle to fatigue without your wrists giving up beforehand.
Common examples can be bicep curls, chest press or shoulder press but generally all exercises that require a push movement.
Common Problems When Using A Bar With Resistance Bands
Now adding a bar can cause several problems that you need to be aware of and also eliminate to not cause long-term lack of progression or even problems like injuries, so let’s talk about them now before we get into different ways to use a bar with resistance bands.
Disbalances – this is a major problem when using a bar, not only with resistance bands. In general, this is when your dominant side of your body takes over without you noticing so you start to progress more on one side of your body. This is, for the average athlete, no problem but with longer training, this can lead to more than just a minor aesthetic disadvantage.
Let’s say you do chest press with a bar and your right side is your dominant side, you will start noticing that your right chest will be a little better developed but when getting into the muscle building zone and your left chest is more fatigue than your right chest, you will start using your right chest more. This can lead to bad form and long-term less muscle growth or even injuries from a bad form. Disbalances are a huge problem when using a bar (more on that below when I show different kinds of wars and how to use them).
Flexibility In Movement – one of the big advantages of training with resistance bands is that you’re not limited to the hand and wrist position a bar forces you to have as you can rotate your wrists freely and take a more natural position that is more friendly for your wrists and joints. I wrote about this in my article about the benefits of training with resistance bands here as well.
Wrong Resistance – this is also a common mistake when using a bar that attaches the band directly with hooks to the bar – you simply have only a very small way how you can adapt the resistance of the band if you do exercises that require you to step on the band.
When you can’t adapt the resistance right, you might either use a resistance that’s too low and this will slow down or even not trigger any progression from your training or force you to do the exercise with bad form (because the resistance is too strong) and limit your progression because you simply can’t work that muscle properly.
Different Bar Setups For Resistance Bands
Now we have all the theory and background to working with bars and your resistance bands and I hope you don’t think that using a bar is completely wrong, it isn’t. There are several ways how a bar makes good sense for exercises (like the bicep curl), but you need to do it right. Let’s have a look at different setups.
DIY Solution (Stick, Bar, etc.)
The easiest way to use a bar is with a strong (!!!) stick or anything else that is like a bar. You very likely find something like that at home to work with but this is limited to one single cause – you need to only use this for exercises that let you attach the band in the middle.
If you do exercises that require you to attach it on the sides you can easily create disbalances or, depending on the material of your bar/stick, see it slipping and hurt yourself. See a better option below.
In general the best way to use it and also the cheapest unless you don’t have any stick at home, but also requires you to use loop style bands and not tube style resistance bands with hooks on it.
Those are found when checking online most – it’s basically a bar with some foamed part in the middle to grab and two hooks on the outside where you can directly attach tube style bands with trigger hooks.
I don’t like them that much actually for multiple reasons. One is that you need to use tube-style resistance bands along with them and the other is that there’s only small freedom to adjust your resistance because you can’t shorten the band itself at any point other than using your stance (and this is limiting because at some point you simply can’t take a wider step without getting into a really unfortunate position)
Flat Band Bars
If you use loop style bands you really should go for this style of bar, simply for the reason that they are great for attaching the band by simply looping them in the spots on either the outside or center.
You can loop around multiple times to create more resistance and you also don’t have the risk of creating any disbalance because one side is attached a little more to the inside as the other so both sides have different resistance.
I personally prefer the loop style bands and also use this kind of bar when using a bar along with resistance bands.
As you see, using the right bar is not everything, you also need to pay a lot of attention to use the bar the right way to get a benefit out of using a bar with your resistance bands or you can easily kill your progress or even catch yourself an injury.