A couple of weeks ago we posted a video on our Facebook page of NFL player James Harrison using the Hanging Band Technique. Probably half of the people commenting either thought it was a joke or that he was an idiot. One person even said James Harrison was “Basically some crossfiter trying to body build”.
These comments made us realize we should probably do an article on this topic and let people know the benefits of the hanging band technique and how they can use it in their workouts and also that it isn’t part of some fitness circus act. Let’s break it down.
What is the Hanging Band Technique?
The hanging band technique is simply hanging weights from the barbell using bands rather than sliding the weights on the bar the normal way. You can hang plates or kettlebells it really doesn’t matter which. The hanging weights creates instability for the lift and this is what creates the benefits of the Hanging Band Technique.
The more bands you use will cause smaller but more frequent oscillations while using just one band for the same amount of weight will create fewer but larger oscillations both of which are beneficial.
You can use this method for most any exercise that requires a barbell aside from the Olympic lifts. Some good exercises to use include the bench press, shoulder press, barbell rows, squats, lunges and even barbell curls and lying tricep extensions.
Benefits of the Hanging Band Technique
The hanging band technique is popular among NFL players and teams as well as other athletes, powerlifters and sports performance trainers. It is also a technique that regular lifers should consider using due to the many benefits. Benefits of the hanging band technique include:
- Recruits more muscle fibers
- Requires more time under tension
- Easier on your joints
- Increased levels of motor unit recruitment in primary and secondary muscle groups
- Eliminates most of the momentum in the lift
- Increased work for stabilizer muscles
- Great for increased shoulder stability training
*Below is a video from James Harrison’s Instagram of him using the Hanging Band Technique with what looks like 385lbs on the bench press which is pretty damn impressive.
My experience with the Hanging Band Technique
I had never done the Hanging Band Technique myself so I thought I would give it a shot and see how it goes.
I decided to use this technique on the bench press. I went with pretty light weight to start and I was glad I did since it can be a bit tricky controlling the weight so starting light is a good idea as well as using a spotter
I noticed two main things when doing this exercise. The first was the fact that you have to go much slower with the reps in order to keep the weight under control. This increases the time under tension and as we have said before time under tension is essential for muscle building.
Another thing I noticed was my chest was more engaged and I could feel more muscle fibers working to control the weight. I also couldn’t use weight as heavy as I normally would, it felt like much of my effort was used just to keep it stable.
Overall this is a pretty cool technique to work your muscle a bit differently than they are accustomed to and shock them in to new gains in both strength and growth.
Other Ways to Go About it
There actually are other ways to go about getting a similar effect. The Tsunami Bar is a barbell that has a lot of flexibility and gives a similar lifting experience to the Hanging Band Technique due to the flexibility and instability of the bar. It looks a little goofy as well but it can be effective.
Another way you can go about this thechnique is with the Bamboo Bar or the Earthquake Bar. These bars are actually made for doing this technique. They are lighter weight (around 6lbs usually) which actually makes them even less stable and more prone to movement. These bars can be expensive but if you trust yourself there is a way you can make one out of PVC pipe, to be honest though I am not sure how much weight one of those can hold or how much I would trust it, that’s up to you.
Wrapping it up
Overall the hanging band technique is an effective way to really hit your muscle hard and spark new growth and gains in strength. The 2 things I really noticed when trying the technique were the increased time under tension due to the slower reps and it is a technique that you can really feel it working the muslce. It is something anyone can try but no matter what exercise you use it with I would use a spotter and light weight to start while you get a feel for it. Try using this once every two weeks for a nice change of pace.
Give it a shot, you will be glad you did.