Band squats are a useful technique for advanced weight lifters hoping to bust through plateaus and boost their squat numbers.
By taking advantage of the properties of resistance bands, this exercise enables you to train specific aspects of the squat technique; namely, explosiveness and the lockout.
The band squat technique involves attaching resistance bands from the bottom of the power rack to each side of the barbell. Tension is created when the bands are stretched from the rack to the barbell. The tension places downward pressure on the load.
Maximum tension, and therefore the heaviest weight you feel when squatting, occurs when you're standing erect. That is, both at the beginning and the end of the range of motion.
Although the heaviness of the load is at it's maximum at the start of a repetition, it becomes lighter and lighter the further you squat down. This is the easy part of the rep.
The most challenging portion of the rep is when you're squatting up. Although the load's heaviness is lightest at the bottom of the rep, it becomes heavier and heavier as you squat up. It's like swimming against the current.
If you're interested, you can also check out the variation of this exercise: the reverse band squat.Set Up. Find a power rack. Place the barbell on the rack pins below shoulder height. Adjust the Safety Catches. Set the safety catch bars to the bottom of the squat range of motion. This way, you won't be you don't have to worry about an accident happening if you fail during a rep or lose control of the barbell.Attach the Bands. Attach a resistance band from the bottom of the power rack to the thick part of the barbell, on each side. This is best done if your power rack has lower band pegs, which are made precisely for attaching bands. However, you can try other creative ways of attaching them (e.g. if you have an extra pair of safety catches, put them on the lowest setting and attach the bands to them). Be sure that your rack is securely fastened to the ground (or sufficiently heavy) so that it does not lift up during the set.Add Plates. Load the desired amount of weight onto the bar. The weights should be to the outside of the resistance band. However, some people like to put the bands in between plates so that there's no chance of the band slipping onto the thin part of the barbell.Unrack the Bar. Position the bar on your back so that it rests on your trapezius muscle, not on your spine. Lift the bar off the rack pins and step back into an athletic stance.Negative Repetition. Squat down by lowering your butt and hips while bending your knees. Go to Parallel (or Below). Go down until the top of your thighs are parallel or below parallel to the floor.Tempo. Aim for about 1-2 seconds. Maintain control of the weight and slow your pace as you near the midpoint.Midpoint. This is the halfway point; at the bottom of the range of motion, between the negative and positive. Tempo. There's no need to pause at the midpoint, since you are really just transitioning between a downward and upward direction. If you do pause, though, it shouldn't be for more than a split second. On the other end of the spectrum, don't "bounce" straight from the negative to the positive rep. Ease into it. Otherwise, you risk a knee injury.Positive Repetition. Squat back up with a vengeance. Flex! Flex your glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps like there's no tomorrow. You'll be squatting against an increasing amount of resistance, so you'll need the initial momentum generated from the bottom of the squat, to help you through the rest of the movement. Keep flexing until you've squatted all the way up and are standing straight with your knees locked.Tempo. Make like a rocket ship, and blast off! But don't crash. (I.e. go as fast as you can without using poor form.)Repeat. This is a strength and power exercise, so use low reps (i.e. around 1-5) with heavy weights.
Band Squats Are Best for Advanced Lifters. If you're an advanced trainee, then band squats may be a good choice for you.
Have you hit a plateau on squats? Do you need to improve your lockout strength? Are you weak out of the hole (i.e. the bottom of the squat)? Maybe you need to improve your lower body power and explosiveness for a sport.
Anything resembling the preceding scenarios makes you an ideal candidate for this exercise (again, an advanced level of experience is a prerequisite).
If you're still in the novice or intermediate phases, then hold off on this technique. Doing band squats in a relatively early stage is not only unnecessary, but inefficient...
...Stick to the basics. Traditional squats will give you more bang for your buck. If you have problems increasing your squat, then you simply need to do some troubleshooting – You may need to modify your workout volume (reps x sets), frequency (sessions/week) and/or intensity (weight).
Alternatively, you may need to change your diet, fix your technique, get better sleep or whatever. However, using an advanced squat variation such as this one certainly isn't the solution.
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