This Is the Workout Tool That Can Unlock Your Elite Athletic Performance

Banded squat
Emiliano Granado

You’d assume that the basketball players I train are good at basic gym movements like squats. But as with weekend warriors, pros are vulnerable to poor movement patterns. Squats may be foundational, but they’re deceptively complicated. Imperfect form can be due to mobility and flexibility, muscle activation, or stability. Resistance bands are the low-tech fix.

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Before you load up a barbell, grab a medium-weight resistance band, hook one end under your feet and hold the other end in a front-rack position. Then do a set of squats. This helps activate the glutes and cue stabilizing muscles in the ankles, back, and upper body. Bands have a little wobble to them, forcing smaller muscles in the legs and shoulders to turn on. Continued use of bands builds strength in these muscles.

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And let’s talk about power, and even vertical jump—a huge concern for the guys I train. Plyo squats with a resistance band are a safe and surefire means to work on power generation and endurance. There’s a less-talked-about aspect—the mind-body connection. We tend to lift barbells mindlessly (pick up, put down). Bands, however, are hyper-responsive to small body movements, making us concentrate on balance and control. Body awareness helps us lift weights better, yes. But it may also mean we hit 3-pointers consistently, or run uneven trails without falling on our face.

Amoila Cesar is a NBA trainer and MusclePharm athlete.

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