Plenty of gym rats will tell you that the only way you can build muscle is to push heavy weights. That’s not absolutely the case–there are plenty of other tools at your disposal to make real gains.
In the first of a new Athlean-X series of banded workouts, Jeff Cavaliere C.S.C.S. demonstrates how this underutilized piece of equipment can help you pursue your chest gains, saying: “The value of the band is something that definitely cannot be underappreciated.”
Check out this workout that Cavaliere created using these top chest-targeted band workouts. You’ll be able to grow your muscles without a single weight.
Anchor the resistance band to something sturdy at chest height, loop your hand through with your elbow locked, and then drive your arm across your chest. “It’s not about getting your arm away from your chest,” Cavaliere explains. “You simply just drive your hand across your body into adduction. If you can drive it even just an extra inch, you’ll feel even more of a contraction.”
Attach the band to something low to the ground, and wrap your hand around it. Then, as you’re performing pushups, between each rep, reach the banded hand across your body. “This will increase the resistance adduction and increase the overall effect on the chest,” says Cavaliere. “It’s a simple modification to a standard exercise.”
Banded Speed Pushups
Another resisted pushup variation, this move involves holding opposite ends of the band in each hand with it wrapped around your shoulders, which creates resistance at the upper end of the pushup. The goal here is to try and achieve full extension of the arms as quickly and powerfully as possible in each rep, as the slower you go, the less benefit you’ll see.
You can use this same principle to perform a banded bench press, in which the position is flipped so you are driving your arms up over your body, once again aiming for powerful, fast full extension.
Wrap Around Press
This follows similar form to the previous move, only from a standing position, and with the hands coming in together at the outer extension. “Instead of having my elbows tucked in and pressing straight out, by just flaring them, now the band wraps around the corner of my delt, and that right there provides the resistance I need as I bring my hands across into adduction,” says Cavaliere.
Upper Chest Pullovers
This exercise, which traditionally engages the lats, can be used to target the chest by adjusting the position of the hands. “I hook my hands around the band, and what I’m trying to do is squeeze the backs of my hands together, creating internal rotation,” he says.
This mimics the arm movement of a single-arm dumbbell press, but is done while lying horizontally. With the band anchored behind you, extend the arm forwards, keeping it low but off the ground.
If you struggle when performing bodyweight dips, bands can hugely improve your ability to perform them; resting your knees on top of them will take out some of that weight, making the lower end of the move easier. “If you’re looking for more of a challenge, put those bands over your back and perform a resisted dip,” says Cavaliere. “This is 60 pounds of extra resistance here, this makes each and every rep more difficult.”
With the band anchored on the ground, try to bring your arm across your chest; even if you don’t make it all the way, you’ll feel it. “It’s the adduction of the arm across the chest that makes this as powerful as it is for getting that better chest contraction,” says Cavaliere.