Getting the Band(s) Back Together

I enjoyed my time (but not the fees) at the local gym, pushing myself to see how much weight I could lift. But at eventually I ran into a problem. When lifting on my own, I would not have a spotter to help if the weights were too much. That lead to times where my joints would move in ways they weren’t supposed to, just to set the weights down without causing a scene. Man, would that hurt!

My amazing wife suggested I get a Bowflex home gym, which was great…until it wasn’t. It was great being able to just go downstairs and take care of business, and the power rods were great at keeping the tension all through the motion of the exercise. A problem came when trying to increase the “weight”, but couldn’t get it in position for the exercise. That would leave me frustrated because I had to settle for an easier weight.

Enter my new favorite pieces of exercise equipment: my resistance bands. Now, these are not your average tube bands you buy at your local Target. My bands are layered latex bands designed to be durable. I heard about these bands listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast. He was touting a system called X3, which uses layered latex bands, a bar, and a platform to provide “an exceptional workout” in less time. I looked into this system and like what I read. It sounded like my Bowflex, but better. Since I am too cheap to buy the X3 system, I started by purchasing the ETHOS Extra Heavy Super Band. Eventually I also added the ETHOS Heavy Super Band for more variety.

The author modeling a squat using his Extra Heavy band. Repurposed Wii board sold separately.

With my bands, I can do all the strength exercises I could in the gym, without limiting my range of motion sans a spotter. I can do sets to failure without worrying about hurting myself handling the weights. Eventually my feet would get sore standing on the bands. That was remedied by using a Wii platform that the bands fit under, which works perfectly to replace the X3 platform. I also use two metal bars from my Bowflex to replace the X3 bar so that my hands and wrists don’t get sore from the pressure.

I use the bands to in several ways: having a band around my back to do an amazingly hard set of push-ups; by putting a band under the platform to do a leg-burning set of lunges; and, I put a band under the platform and use a bar to do some serious deadlifts. I have much better range of motion with these bands and have also noticed some great strength gains as well. These low-impact exercises are great for my muscles and bones without wreaking havoc on my joints.

There is science somewhere to prove that these bands can help do great things. But what I know is I can get more things done in less time and without the joint-crushing side effects. With a few hacks I was able to maximize my home gym for very little cost. Speaking from experience.

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