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How to use resistance bands for squatting

I’m always on the lookout for different bits of gear I can use to help me out in my workouts, and one of the best bits of equipment which are often overlooked are resistance bands.

 

I use resistance bands in both upper and lower body workouts, I use them to warm up, to help with my form and to add a bit of extra resistance in some exercises. You can get resistance bands in different lengths and levels of resistance. In this article I’ve used the lightest form of resistance bands (2-16kg), you can get these from almost anywhere and they are pretty inexpensive. Depending on what you want to use the band for will help you decide what kind of band to get. Before I bought my own resistance bands, I would use the free ones that were hanging around my gym, usually they’re just a bit of latex tubing but if I tied one to make a loop they would still do the job.

 

Warming Up

 

 

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When I perform resistance band bodyweight squats I wrap the resistance band around my calves, usually twice, and squat as I normally would. This added resistance helps to activate your hip extensor muscles and increase overall lower body stability – helping to rectify a common squat form problem; caving knees. The smaller resistance bands would be good to use for this warm up because you can wrap it around your thighs, just above your knee. A popular tool for this would be the Slingshot Hip Circle, which is great for lower body exercises where the glutes are required but often underutilised.

 

I also like to perform lateral side steps with a resistance band. This exercise is great for activating the hip abductor muscles. This is especially useful for me as I have had a hip flexor injury in the past and anything which aids in glute activation means there’s less strain placed on my hip flexors. Again, you can use a resistance band around your calves or just above your knee to perform this.

 

Resistance bands aren’t just good for lower body warm ups, but for upper body too. Before every single upper body workout, I use my resistance band looped around the squat rack or the TRX frame to perform face pulls. This warm up is great for activating your rear delts and the external rotators of the shoulder. Warming up the rotator cuffs is essential if you want to avoid upper body injuries and face pulls themselves can strengthen your bench dramatically if they are currently underdeveloped.

 

Help Activate Muscles

 

You can also use resistance bands to add resistance to some less exciting exercises, like the leg press. Using a resistance band wrapped above your knees can help make sure you’re performing the leg press correctly by forcing you to apply external rotation of the hip joint, resulting in the knees maintaining an outward tracking plane of movement. Again, this is going to assist in overall leg development and ensure adequate recruitment of the hamstrings & glutes, as opposed to the quads overcompensating due to poor knee/hip alignment.

 

Improve Form

 

 

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I’ve recently started using resistance bands to improve my form with my main lifts too. A reoccurring problem for me when I’m squatting is the issue of my knees caving inwards when the weight gets heavy. I discovered the trick of using resistance bands attached to the squat rack and wrapped around the top of my knees a few weeks ago and it’s already fixed my problem.

 

 

 

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It may look confusing but all it does is remind me to keep the resistance band taut by making sure my knees are pointed outwards during the entire lift.

 

These are some of my favourite ways to use resistance bands in my workouts but there’s lots of other ways to get them to benefit yours too. For example, heavier resistance bands are extremely useful when wanting to improve your pull ups by providing assistance and for applying accommodating resistance to exercises such as the bench press (for greater tricep development/engagement). There’s lots of information out there on how to use resistance bands to reach your goals, all it takes is some researching.

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Overnight Oats Brownie Batter Recipe

This week, I had a go at making something which my Instagram has been inundated with recently; overnight oats.

 

Picture delicious looking foods in mason jars with mouth-watering toppings and that’s overnight oats for you. I’ve been wanting to make these for ages because they seem like the perfect macro friendly breakfast for on the go. Overnight oats consist of 3 main ingredients, oats, milk and yogurt, but you can add pretty much anything you want into the mix.

 

 

overnight oats

I’m a serious chocolate lover, so naturally, I made chocolate flavoured overnight oats. I already had some chocolate brownie protein powder so the batch I made was specifically brownie batter overnight oats – sounds delicious right? Here’s the recipe I used

 

RECIPE

 

Rolled Oats 180g

 

Unsweetened Almond Milk 250ml

 

0% Fat Greek Style Natural Yogurt 125g

 

Cocoa Powder 25g (optional)

 

Chocolate Brownie Flavour Whey Protein 50g (optional – you can use any kind of protein powder)

 

Granulated Sweetener 8g (optional)

 

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, split it into some containers and leave them overnight for the oats to soak up the moisture. These ingredients yield a good amount of mixture so it’s up to you how many servings you want from it. I split the ingredients into two servings which meant the macros were…

 

MACROS

(per serving)

543 calories | 37g protein | 70.4g carbs | 12.8g fat

 

I split the mixture into two jars which I’d washed out. Fancy mason jars aren’t necessary, and seeing as I’m on a student budget, I thought it was a great way to recycle some old jars that I would have just thrown away anyway.

 

 

overnight oats

The great thing about putting them into jars is that you can eat these oats pretty much anywhere, a lecture, in the gym, at the SPC – you name it! Plus, you don’t have to eat them all in one go, you can screw the lid back on and save some for later.

 

By Ellie Mason

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Member Real Life Story: Shona Hughes

Factfile

Name: Shona Hughes

Age: 20 years old

Weight Class: 63kg

PRs: 87.5kg Squat, 50kg Bench, 122.5kg Deadlift

Studying: Physics in her second year at University of Kent


 

Shona’s story:

I first set about losing weight several years ago and had a somewhat negative relationship with exercise. It wasn’t until a year or so ago that I rebuilt my relationship with exercise and participated with the sole intention of enjoying myself and improving my strength. I started out in the gym doing endless sessions of cardio and using the occasional machine. I was introduced to powerlifting briefly, at first by a friend, who taught me two of the three lifts but it wasn’t until part of the way through my first year at university that I really got into it after my boyfriend, then course-mate, encouraged me.

 

“My eating habits took an extremely restrictive turn a few years ago, and around the time I began to lose a lot of weight I developed an eating disorder.”

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What was it like switching from being a cardio bunny to lifting heavy and being a part of MASS?

 

I was very shy about being in the free weights area but was keen to learn more, so I just needed a bit of a push! I’ve been officially lifting for a year now, and joined MASS at the start of my second year. I had heard a lot about it in my first year, but again, I was reserved about joining. The community feeling you get from the society is so welcoming though.

 

What’s it like balancing training with studying at university?

 

Thankfully, it hasn’t been too much of a strain because the facilities in the campus gym are ideal, and it’s nice and convenient to get to between or after lectures. It is tiring, and difficult to strike a balance so I often find myself prioritising training over going out with friends but it’s a fair trade I think, and I’ve even been able to encourage some of my friends to join us in training so I never feel like I’m missing out.

 

“The community feeling you get from the society is so welcoming.”

 

What’s a typical training week for you?

 

My programming tends to vary a fair bit, and since I don’t intend on competing at the moment, I keep it fairly relaxed. I train 5/6 times a week, taking rest days when I need them. Each session is largely focused on either squat, bench or deadlift with focused accessory work. Every so often, I’ll ask someone to oversee my lifts and take me through my weaknesses so I can add in specific accessory movements like deficit pulls for deadlifts, tempo squats or spoto press.

 

 

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What is your diet like right now?

 

At the moment, I’m on a bit of a cut (can’t let myself get too far out my intended weight class!) so my macros are a little lower than usual, but I’m a creature of habit so I still find ways to keep in my favourites – protein pancakes and the occasional pizza being the main things. I’m very much a fan of anything carb dense, particularly if I have a heavy day. In fact, I tend to have my most carb dense meals earlier in the day when I’m training; if not I’ll try to spread them out a bit more.

 

“Having a healthy relationship with yourself and excelling at what you love is what’s key to being content.”

How do your current eating habits vary from before you were lifting?

 

I was definitely an intuitive eater for most of my life but I became more conscious of my eating habits as I got older. My eating habits took an extremely restrictive turn a few years ago, and around the time I began to lose a lot of weight I developed an eating disorder. I remember very little of that period of my life, but I can’t have been consuming more than 500 calories on a daily basis. Often fewer. I would only have a higher intake if I was being closely monitored by friends or family.

 

What impact has MASS had on your life?

 

As corny as it sounds, coming to university and joining MASS has saved me from a self destructive path. It’s taught me that having a healthy relationship with yourself and excelling at what you love is what’s key to being content – no matter how you look, you can’t be happy if your goals aren’t coming from a good place. It’s taught me the difference between, “I’m not good enough if I don’t do this” and “I am enjoying this and would like to improve”. Without the support of the friends I’ve made through university, and MASS in particular, I would probably still struggle with that concept. But being surrounded by like-minded, hard-working and accepting individuals is an amazing feeling.

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