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How to set up elastic bands in bench press and squat

Physical trainers, coaches, strength athletes, students or muscle enthusiasts, you want to combine elastic resistance and weight in order to benefit from the beneficial effects of this accessory on physical performance. In this article you will learn a simple methodology to set up your elastic bands according the percentage of elastic resistance you want to use and your training load.

Elastic resistance and performance...

The elastic bands are a very practical tool in the development of physical qualities such as speed, strength or muscle power. As we explained in our review "Elastic bands : From science to practice", to observe benefits on exercises like bench press or squat, choose an elastic resistance corresponding to about 15 to 35% of the total resistance on the bar. However, unlike iron weights, elastics are not graduated and it is difficult to quantify precisely the resistance that will be used...

Many of you regularly ask us about bands set up in order to get a given resistance. And we thought the answer deserved an article because the methodology of set up is simple but it is important to respect some parameters. Here's how to proceed...

The method...

As the illustration below, we will describe the most accurate method for us to use elastic bands on common exercises like bench press and squat. This method requires the use of two Sci-Sport elastic bands, one placed on each side of the bar. All the examples of calculations, as well as the Excel file that you can download are made in agreement with this placement and according to the resistances of our bands which we quantified in laboratory ( see summary of tests ).

Developpé couché avec les bandes élastiques Sci-Sport


The process...

In your gym, you do not necessarily have a specific rack with pin attachment at ground level and in height allowing you to fix your elastic bands easily. So, the method described below suits all the ways you will use to attach your bands to ground level. Whether attached by dumbbells or a loaded bar, weight disc or the structure of your bench or squat rack, what really matters is the band stretching distance.

Step 1 : Determine your resistance mix...

Take the bench press for example, the maximum load you can move 1 single time (ie, your 1RM) is equal to 100 kg. You then need to determine the percentage you want to work with. Let's say 80% of 1RM , so 80 kg.

You must now choose the percentage of elastic resistance you want to use. Let's say you choose 20% of elastic resistance. You have to calculate these 20% according to the load on your bar, 80 kg. So the elastic resistance you will use will be 16 kg, or 8 kg per elastic band.

Your bar will be loaded as follows : 64 kg weight + 8 kg × 2 = 80 kg.

IMPORTANT : Note that the elastic resistance determined corresponds to the maximum stretch of elastic band during movement. That is, you need to get 16kg of elastic resistance in full extension of your arms during the bench press.

Step 2 : What length of elastic band to use ...

To determine the length of elastic band to use (ie length L2 in the diagram below), take place in the top of the movement with an empty barbell. A partner should simply measure the distance between the point of attachment of your elastic band at ground level and the barbell, length L1 on the diagram below.

Placement de la bande élastique

Let's say that length L1 is 110 cm in your case. Just put this value into the spreadsheet in the box provided. But which elastic band to choose?

Once you have determined your resistance combination (see Step 1), the spreadsheet shows for each elastic band the stretch needed to get 8 kg of resistance. In our example, you can choose an elastic band size M, which you will have to stretch to 44.5% or an elastic band size S, which you will have to stretch to 65%. Simply report the percentage you want to use in the corresponding box in the spreadsheet.

Let's choose an elastic band size S that we will stretch by 65%, the spreadsheet indicates that length L2 should be 66.7 cm.

Step 3 : Setup the elastic band...

The last step is to place your elastic bands on each side of the bar so that the length L2 matches the value given by our spreadsheet. Do not worry if the length varies by one or two centimeters.

Our elastic bands measure about 100 cm, to obtain a length of 66.7 cm, so you will have to roll up your elastic bands S around your bar in order to shorten it (see "wrapped band" in the article "Tips"). So when you attach it to the point of attachment to the ground and your arms will be fully extended, each band will provide 8 kg of resistance.

Our spreadsheet to download...

This spreadsheet contains all the information to guide you step-by-step through this procedure. In addition, we have included a sheet where you will find tables that will allow you to determine the resistance according to the stretch, or know what stretching is needed to get some resistance.


You enjoyed this article but you still have a doubt or you have suggestions to improve it ... Do not hesitate to contact us to ask all your questions via our contact form. We will answer you systematically and quickly.

livre sur les bandes élastiques

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