Band Resisted Military Press

I skipped the gym on Friday.  Didn’t go.  It was getting late, Gladiator was playing on TV, and I had dinner plans with my Mom and my brother.  The gym was the last place I wanted to be, so I did what anyone would do.

I trained at home.

Rather then totally skip a workout, I broke out my red treasure chest, and got to it.  I had an upper body day scheduled, and was confident I could include each movement I wanted in the comfort of my own home.  I’ve been using Fitocracy to track my workouts, and logged the entire training session here.

You have to get creative at home, and it could be tricky to replicate a bench press.  Instead, I replicated a military press using a PVC pipe I keep in my room, and two pairs of resistance bands.  It looked like this:


Loop a band around each foot and the PVC pipe, set yourself up nice and tight, and press away.  Feels great. Problem is, it’s hard to tell exactly how much you’re lifting. The bands provide more resistance at the top of the movement than at the bottom, so it becomes a game of guestimations.

I used a pair of “Fierce” and a pair of “Aggressive” Onyx bands from EliteFTS, and referenced their band calibration chart to determine the resistance for the set-up that I used.  The bar measured 5′ from the ground at my shoulders, and a hair over 7′ when fully pressed over head. I subtracted 10″ from the charts because the bands weren’t choked, and calculated the following weights:

  • Intense Bands, Bottom: 40lb
  • Intense Bands, Top: 63lb
  • Fierce Bands, Bottom: 75lb
  • Fierce Bands, Top: 110lb
  • Combined, Bottom: 115lb
  • Combined, Top: 173lb

At this point I began to get confused.  The bar felt heavier than those numbers, but doubling them seems way too heavy. I called EliteFTS to double check how the bands were measured, and the numbers in the chart are for single bands, so I needed to double the listed numbers to determine tension on the bar.  To account for the additional poundage during stretching, I performed two sets with each set up, and logged one as the band tension at the bottom, and one as the band tension at the top. It looked like this:

There’s no way in hell I press more than I bench, so I’m skeptical about some of those numbers, even though I triple checked the math.  What’s important though, is that it felt heavy and challenging, which is exactly what I was after.  If you have access to resistance bands, they can provide some heavy resistance for those days when you can’t get to the gym.  I recreated the set-up on Monday during my next upper-body day, using a barbell, and sticking to just one set of bands.  Here’s a demo:

While I can’t seem to appreciate arithmetic, I’ve become fond of this exercise for several reasons.  Most importantly, because you can do it anywhere.  If you have access to bands, you have access to overhead pressing, which is pretty high on the bang-for-your-buck scale.

Secondly, it forces you to stay tight throughout the movement, and maintain good posture.  The Military Press has the potential for getting sketchy, but the bands force you to keep tall posture, an active upper back, and brace the abdominals.

Finally, the band raises the sticking point of the exercise, which is more leverage friendly for most people.  When pressing, we typically find the bar slows down as we pass our nose, which is when we begin the Gumby game in an attempt to lock the weight out.  While the bands help keep you tighter, they also make the sticking point higher, so you’re less likely to lean back and contort your spine.  It’s a valiant but often ill-fated effort to complete the rep.

Perhaps you’d like to use the Band Resisted Military Press as extra tricep work, as extra upper back work, or as a cool variation.  You might just find yourself in a situation like me, and you want to train hard without going to the gym.  Unlike some home workouts, this variation that will allow you to use appreciable resistance and work towards your goals, all from the (dis)comfort of your own home.

Give the band resisted military press a try, and let me know what you think!

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One Reply to “Band Resisted Military Press”

  1. Thanks on your marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you’re a great author.I will make sure to bookmark your blog and definitely will come back in the
    future. I want to encourage continue your great job, have a nice day!

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