I love exercise machines (just as much as I love bars/plates, dumbbells, kettlebells, and band exercises) and I think they all have their place in any guys bodybuilding/strength training program. There, I said it. Machines are awesome muscle-building tools.
The argument that machines aren’t functional are made by bandwagon gym goers who probably just started training in the last 10 years (you know, when the thing that rhymes with BossFit hit the fitness scene).
Truth is, machines still kick serious ass when it comes to building muscle and getting strong, despite what your cult member friends Todd, Blake, Blair, Blaine, Brent, and Tucker might tell you (f*uck Tucker, Tucker sucks).
They’re safe, functional as all hell (anything that works your muscle is a full range of motion is “functional”), and tends to focus on contraction quite well on the target muscles, as many of them take stabilizer muscles out of the picture.
That said, one of the most common machines you can find in most ‘regular’ gyms is a cable crossover machine. But due to the space needed to house one of these things, smaller private gyms like mine don’t have the room for one.
But don’t worry. The beast has got you covered. Try these 5 band variations to end your workout and get one hell of a pump in your upper body.
You don’y need a cable machine to mimic cable machine exercises. All you need is a few different types of bands and the desire to still train with intensity no matter what.
[Exercise 1] Band Crossover/Band Fly. This is a replacement for a cable crossover or cable fly. Anchor the Bodylastics Bands wider than your shoulders and higher than your head. Keep the elbows fixed and bring your hands together squeezing the chest.
[Exercise 2] Band Row. The band row is a great substitution for the cable row. Face the anchor points, grab both handles and pull your hands toward your chest. For an extra squeeze keep the anchor points wide and grab the left band with the right hand and vice versa. Pull the handles into your chest. (See video)
[Exercise 3] Band Pull Down. This is a variation of a lat pulldown. Instead of using bands with handles, use strength bands instead (the ones people use for assisted pullups). Hang a band from a pull up bar or squat rack, stick a pipe or dowel through the band, drop to your knees, and pull the band under the chin to your chest squeezing your lats.
[Exercise 4] Band Triceps Push Down. This is a great substitute for cable push downs. Grab a band and loop it over a pull up bar or squat rack. Grab the band halfway up, or put a pipe/dowel through the band. Pin your elbows at your sides and drive your hands to your waist, approach elbow lock-out, and squeeze the triceps.
[Exercise 5] Band Curl. Cable curls are a staple for many guys looking to build their biceps. If you don’t have a cable machine to do these on, the band curl is the next best thing to fry your biceps at the end of arm day. Stand inside a strength band and place a dowel underneath the band. Stand upright with elbows pinned to your sides and curl the weight up squeezing the biceps.
I like to shoot for 1-2 Max Rep sets or 1 Rest Pause Set of any of these exercises to end whichever body part I’m working on.
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