BUILDING MUSCLE: A COMPARISON
When it comes to building muscle, training with Resistance Bands is still a relatively new concept. Undersun Founder and Chief Fitness Officer, James Grage, breaks down the principle of muscle building of ALL fitness equipment and demystifies training strategies.
Comparing Free Weights vs Machines vs Resistance Bands vs Fitness Gadgets
MAINTAINING Muscle Size AND Strength in Your Training Long Term
The Mind-Muscle Connection and Training by FEEL
Strategies for Injury Prevention
James Grage: Welcome to another episode of the Under the Sun podcast where we talk about everything fitness, nutrition, training, motivation, even a little bit of business and life mixed in there. A today’s topic is one that I’ve been getting a lot of questions about and it’s understandable.
Resistance band training is something when it comes to building muscle that’s still relatively a new idea. And so there’s a lot of skepticism out there and a lot of questions out there up.
So today I want to go through and just cover some of the basics of comparing all the different methods of training for building muscles. So free weights, machines, of course, resistance bands. And then even this other category, let’s call it resistance bands and accessories. There’s a lot of different resistance band programs out there with a lot of, let’s call it widgets and gadgets, handles and bars and all kinds of stuff.
James Grage: And a lot of people are wondering what my opinion is on that. So this isn’t about comparing anything that I’m doing with anyone else. I like to try to stay in my own lane and not get worried about what anybody else is doing. But at the same time, I think the best thing that I can do is just give you my honest, unbiased feedback. And so it’s one of those things, take it for what it’s worth.
So let’s jump into it. Let’s start with a side by side comparison of all of the above. So free weights, machines, bands, and then bands plus accessories. I know free weights, it’s how I grew up. I grew up training with free weights, picked up weights when I was 16 years old. So I have a love for the gym and a love for free weights. So it is not that I’m against free weights or against the gym, but my training has evolved and has gotten to the point now where my mindset has, has shifted.
James Grage: I went through this transition where, as I started doing band training and people were like, “Whoa, why you doing that”? That was the big question. Like why? Why would you do that?
And at first, I wasn’t trying to say the bands are better than free weights. I was just saying, “Hey, it’s just a different way of training”. I can take the same principles that I use in the gym to build muscle. And I could do the same thing with bands. But now my attitude is starting to change a little because here I am a little over two years into using resistance bands only know free weights and I’m seeing all these additional benefits. And so now when people ask me, “Well, why would you only use bands?” I look at them and say, “Why would you only use weights”?
James Grage: You know, it’s just because you’re a bro and that’s just all. What is it about free weights? It makes you so convinced that there are superior means of training because the reality is they’re not. They’re not superior in any way. Now I’m not saying that they’re ineffective.
Clearly I’ve built my whole physique using free weights, mainly free weights. I didn’t use a whole lot of machines. But there are certain machines that I use. One of the machines that are really liked the most all through my years of training, believe it or not, was a cable machine. And that’s why training with bands was such a nice transition because with a cable machine you can do so many movements in different planes. It just gives you a lot more freedom and flexibility to find that perfect angle where you feel it, which is the thing.
James Grage: Anything I talk about, you know that I preach about training by feel. Not training by numbers, getting caught up in weights and sets and reps, but learning to really tune into a particular muscle and feel each and every contraction and making sure that you really working the muscle that you’re trying to work.
Now going back to free weights versus bands. Here’s what I’ll tell you. They do feel totally different. Totally different. And I was just reminded of it last week. I have a confession. I went into the jujitsu studio where Minka does her jujitsu and so they’ve got a full-blown gym in there. They’ve got free weights and machines, a beautiful gym. A matter of fact, if you’re in the Aventura Bal Harbour / Hallandale area of Florida, stop in there. It’s an awesome facility. It’s called Winners.
James Grage: So they do boxing, jujitsu, mixed martial arts, and of course they have a gym in there. So when into the gym and I was doing my band workout and so went through my entire workout, which is what I do. Anytime I actually go into a gym, I only use bands, I don’t use any of the machines, don’t use any of the free weights.
And I know that I’ve been able to maintain the same amount of strength and muscle size that I did using weights only train with bands. And here it’s been two years and that’s quite a test. Like, if I was going to lose strength and size, I would have lost it by now. And a lot of people will say, “Well, it’s much easier to maintain muscle than it is to build muscle”. I’ll agree with that.
James Grage: But at the same time, it also requires the same amount of stimulus to maintain that muscle though. In other words, go into the gym, train hard for let’s say two years. Reach your peak level of strength and conditioning, and then for the next two years, I want you to go in there and I want you to half-ass it. Go 50% or even just go 75% and see what happens to your strength, into your conditioning. See if you can maintain it.
The answer’s no, you won’t. Because it requires the same amount of stimulus to maintain it. So I’ve always known that when it comes to biceps and triceps and back, I haven’t lost any strength. There’s one exercise that one movement where I was really curious and a lot of it is because so much of your strength in this particular movement is what we’ll call neurological meaning that our nervous system is what powers our muscles.
James Grage: Think of our muscle is just like an electric motor, and your nervous system is the wiring and the current supplying the energy to the motor. So you could have a big motor, but if you have a weak current, you’re going to have weak output on that motor. And it’s the same thing.
Theoretically, you could have big muscles, it doesn’t mean they’re going to be strong if your nervous system is weak. And matter of fact, you see this with professional bodybuilders when they experience nerve damage, which is very, very common after a lot of years of training. Especially as these guys get really huge, there’s a lot of, let’s call it compression that’s happening in there. It’s a limited amount of space. It’s finite, right? So as these muscles get bigger, it starts to squish everything in there. And a nerve impingement is a very common thing.
James Grage: Nerves get caught in between muscles. And so over time, they’re not operating optimally. And what you’ll hear guys complain about is that they can’t get that peak contraction from one side of their body to the other. They feel a noticeable difference. It’s not just in strength, it’s in just even that ability to really make the muscle fully, fully contract.
So needless to say, nerve health is extremely important for strength and performance and muscle building. So with that being said, doing a movement like this one I’m talking about, which happens to be bench press, a lot of it is, let’s call it neural strength. Meaning, just that connection from your mind to your muscle. You actually, as you do an exercise more, whether your muscle gets stronger or not, you can still get stronger because of your nervous system. But it requires you actually doing that movement.
James Grage: So here I haven’t done bench press, not only in the two years since I’ve been using resistance bands, but I pretty much had stopped doing bench press long before that. So even when I was doing free weights, I was doing dumbbells – so dumbbell chest press, dumbbell flies, everything was dumbbells, even my heavy presses.
So I could go in there and I could press pretty heavy dumbbells. I mean, probably about the heaviest that I ever got up to in dumbbells were maybe 140s, 145s, which is still pretty heavy for dumbbells. Those are pretty big, but that didn’t always translate over to bench press. I would get underneath the bar, which just feels different, and I wouldn’t have the kind of strength that you think that I would have in a bench press. Not to mention it was never my strength.
James Grage: Anyway, bench press. I’m not really built for it. T his is where genetics definitely come into play. The way that you are structured, literally your framework. I not just the size of your chest. A good bench presser does have a bigger rib cage and a taller chest. And they usually have shorter arms, and they’re pushing that bar a shorter amount of distance.
I don’t have a big rib cage, and I have super long arms. I actually, I’ve got friends that are 6’2, 6’3 and 6’4 and my arms are almost as long as theirs. I’m like a primate, a caveman. My knuckles practically dragged on the ground. So I was never really built for bench press.
And the other factor there is your insertion points because it’s all about leverage. So you think about the insertion point of the tendon from your pecs to your humerus, right?
James Grage: The closer it is to the joint, the less leverage you have. The further down your humerus, the more leverage you have, and the stronger you’re going to be. So for me, I just don’t think I have very good leverage. Not really built for bench press. That’s my disclaimer of saying that it was never really my strength.
So anyway, last week, curiosity got the best of me and I wondered how much strength had I maintained in that movement. Or had I lost strength? So not that I’ve wanted to put a lot of weight on there because I didn’t. Because I’m not going to let my curiosity go ahead and get me injured, which is one of the reasons why I stopped training with weights in the first place. Because I felt like it was two steps forward and one step back all the time.
James Grage: And not just because of age. I always felt that way. Whether I was 18 or 28 or 38, it’s so easy to get injured in the gym and especially with free weights. So there was a point where I was probably my strongest at bench press, which happened to be a combination of free weights plus resistance band.
So adding in those resistance bands at that point in time, which is about 11 years ago is when I was my strongest. And a friend of mine from California came out to visit and he was like, “Well, how strong do you think you are”? I’m like, “Ah, you know, I don’t really know”.
So we stacked a bunch of weight on there and I was pressing out, and all of a sudden I got this searing hot pain. Which you know, as any of you that have experienced it before know, that that is the beginning of a tear.
James Grage: So that’s one of the reasons why I started drifting away from weights is it’s the setbacks. Because think about it. What is forward progress? We’ll forward progress is it’s you got to look at it in terms of net gain, right?
So it’s like, what is your gain minus any of the setbacks? That’s your net gain. So every time you get injured that’s setting you back. So I always looked at it the same way that I look at a business, or that I look at anything else. And say, instead of just focusing on huge wins all the time, how do I avoid some of the common pitfalls and some of the common setbacks?
Because that’s gonna put me so much further ahead. And that’s always been my strategy with everything. Even in financial investing. Like, if anyone thinks that the way to make a lot of money investing say, in the market is trying to find the stocks or whatever it is, whatever investment is property real estate that’s going to net this huge win.
James Grage: Yeah, there is the potential for huge wins. But that also means that there’s huge potential for losses. So my approach was always, how do I mitigate some of that risk? And just go for a nice steady gain.
And so it’s the exact same approach with building a physique instead of looking for massive gains overnight and taking all these risks of injury. And instead, let me take a smarter approach and avoid all those injuries because frankly, I hate that feeling. I hate feeling injured.
See, I mean most of us have experienced this where whatever caused it, whether it was in the gym or whatever, but you get that sharp pain right there, right in the front of your shoulder. And it doesn’t matter what you do, whether you’re doing bench press or are you doing side raises for shoulders, you’re always digging in your finger in there.
James Grage: And just like trying to numb the pain. I don’t like the way that feels. And I haven’t felt that way in two years. And that’s one of the things that I gotta say I freaking love about the way I train now I feel awesome. I feel strong and no injury.
So I know I’m like beating around the bush here. You guys are wondering like “How was it? You got underneath the bench press. So what happened”? So like I said, I didn’t go crazy. I didn’t want to hurt myself. So I just put two 25 on there, two plates on each side, got under it just to see how it felt to see not only if I lost strength, but to do a little bit of comparing and contrasting between the way that bands feel the way versus the way of bench feels. And so I got under it, pressed it did about 12 times and just stopped.
James Grage: I could have kept going, which for me is a pretty good indicator. It was about where it was when I left off more than two years ago. So I hadn’t lost any strength. And the funny thing is, it actually felt easy because I was supported.
I was laying on this bench and all I had to focus on was just pressing it. And it was such a good reminder to me of why I like training with bands. Which is, you’re on your feet like an athlete. Which is more functional strength and you’re having to stabilize, right?
You have to have a strong base and a strong core if you’re doing any of these presses standing up. Otherwise, you’re gonna fall backward. And that’s just more practical. I’m past that point of just wanting to look big for the sake of looking big. I want to know that if I have muscle, I can do something with it.
James Grage: Truthfully, I don’t even want to look like a bodybuilder anymore. I’m way past that. I don’t even like the way it looks. I don’t think it’s, I don’t even think it’s a great look. I think it’s cool. You know, we all grew up watching superhero movies and it’s like cool to look like the Incredible Hulk.
But where I’m at, I would much rather look like an athlete where someone says, “Man, that dude looks like he could run fast, jump high and is strong too”. And that’s kind of where I’m at. And so training, the way I train now is training like an athlete. So going back to laying on the bench, you’re supported on this bench. You don’t have to do anything.
James Grage: Which is why I’ve always said that you could take, say a football player, and you could bench 500 pounds. But if you put him on his feet on the football field, can he utilize all that power? Because a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
I’ve said that a lot. You probably have heard me say that before, but it’s true. And it’s the same thing with our physique. Our body is only as strong as our weakest body parts. So if you have a super-strong chest, but your core is weak, then your foundation is weak when it comes to stability. I’m not talking about strength, I’m not talking about your ability to do squats. I’m talking about your balance overall athleticism. So getting under the bench, it just felt kind of simple to be honest with you.
James Grage: But it was a good reminder to me of what weights felt like. Because here’s what I don’t like about training with weights now is that it feels, and it’s not just the risk of it, I feel that through certain points of any movement, whether it’s a press or it’s a curl, whatever it is, that especially because our resistance is just in that one plane and the vertical plane because of gravity, that that resistance isn’t even all the way through.
So not only does that not create the same kind of constant tension, which is good for muscle building, you want constant tension. That’s what builds muscle is time under tension, but also eliminating injury. Like when you go from points where there’s a lot of resistance to less resistance, all those little transitions are opportunity for injury. Where I find that people get is in the transition in or out of an exercise.
James Grage: So in other words, if we’re doing bench press, unwrapping the bar or re-racking the bar, opportunity begins. Or same thing with squat, taking the bar off the rack, setting the bar back on the rack. That’s where I see people hurt their backs all the time.
So train with bands, you have that opportunity to get into position without any load on it. So in other words, if I’m doing say, chest press and it’s anchored behind me, well the band’s totally slacks so there’s no load, get into position.
Then I stepped forward and create that tension, create that starting points. So I’m eliminating those portions of a movement where you’re, you’re more at risk to get injured. So anyway, I thought that was interesting. Just to be able to experience it again. But it reminded me of one thing. I really have zero interest in going back to weights because you know they’re cool and it brings out my inner caveman, wanting to pick up heavy shit, throw it around.
James Grage: And you know, I’m not really, I was never into screaming and slamming weights around, not my style. I was always kind of had more of a quiet intensity when I trained. But still it is that kind of like inner caveman and that’s cool.
But like a caveman, it is kind of primitive in a certain way. I mean people think that there’s something so superior about training with weights when really all they are is hunks of steel with handles that are easy to grab and you’re lifting them against gravity. Like where’s the science behind that?
So weights are not some sort of superior form of weight training. So that’s the first thing I’ll say. The second thing, comparing weights, forget bands for a second, let’s compare weights to machines. So why machines? Like what is the purpose of a machine? Which if you think about machines are pretty interesting because first of all, they’re big, they’re bulky.
James Grage: I think some of you guys have heard me say this before. Some of these machines forget the weight stack on it. You know, let’s say it’s got 200 pounds worth of weight plates on there. Forget that. Just the fact that as big steel contraption that’s designed just to do one single movement, one movement takes up this big footprint and a gym is big. It’s heavy all to do one single movement.
Why is that? Well, that’s because whatever method you use to be able to redirect that resistance from a vertical plane, that weight stack going up and down against gravity to be able to change directions. For us to sit here and do a chest press or to do a shoulder press or do a curl or whatever the movement is. And that is probably the biggest advantage because with free weights you are limited to just that vertical plane.
James Grage: So if you want to train chest, you have to lay on our back so you can press the weight up against gravity. So now a machine, you can actually sit upright. And you can go ahead and we can press out in front of you.
Well that’s one of the things that I like about bands is that you have resistance in every single plane. I can press it down, I can press it out, I can press it up, I can press it in any direction because we don’t rely on gravity anymore. So in other words, you can take a full gym’s worth of machines, which God only knows what the cost is. And you say, well, who cares? That’s the cost the gym paid for it. No, you paid for it because you pay the membership, your membership to the gym pays for all that equipment.
James Grage: So all that equipment, all that space, all that money for something that you can do with just a couple of bands and say a door anchor or tie it around a pull-up bar.
You gotta admit. That’s kind of funny. And I think that’s one of the things that probably the gym industry does not appreciate about bands and why you’re not gonna see a lot of people jumping up and down and saying, “Hey, this is the way to train because it really rocks the boat”.
It’s really disrupting a $35 billion fitness industry that instead of paying an average of $58 a month for a gym membership, which is what the average gym membership across the country is, some are cheaper, some are higher, but 58 bucks a month is the average to go out and buy a $100 set of bands complete set and be able to do everything that you can do in a gym.
James Grage: And when I say, “you can do everything”, you can do everything! Two years in, I’ve been trying to figure it out, is there something that I’m missing? That is just really missed that gym? That I really miss those freeways? Or I miss those machines? And the answer’s no.
I don’t miss it at all. And I love working out. I love working out and I’m not compromising on the results that I want. It’s not like I’ve just resigned myself to saying, “Well I don’t really feel like we’re going out with machines or free weights anymore, so I’m going to go ahead and get small and weak and it’s okay because I’m just going to work out with bands and do this like little grandma workout”. No, I want the exact same result. Exact same results except actually in a way, they’re better results because now I feel more athletic.
James Grage: I feel 1. I don’t have any injuries. But it’s not just not having injuries. I feel a different kind of strength in my shoulders. Not only do my shoulders feel healthy, but they feel strong. They feel Bulletproof.
I feel like if I wanted to that I could go say do CrossFit style training. If I wanted to and not have the same risk for injury, because that’s one of the things doing any kind of powerlifting movement. Especially for both reps and speed, which is what CrossFit is.
Power lifting movements, which are designed really for just a few reps with precise technique. Now taking that and doing it for reps in speed. So I’m not criticizing, but there’s obviously a giant risk for injury there. But I feel like with the way that I train now that I could do that and have less risk of injury.
James Grage: So that’s the biggest difference between free weights versus machines. Machines are really just designed to be able to change the direction of the resistance. That’s one. And the other thing too is addressing, one of the points that I made earlier about free weights is trying to get constant tension all the way through the range of motion.
So depending on the machine, some of them have a little more, you know, let’s call it different curves. So as you go through a range of motion, you have that variable resistance similar to what you would have with resistance man. So let’s say we’re doing curls, it’s a little bit easier at the bottom where we have that sticking point about midway. Like think about it as you’re doing curls. That’s why people use all this momentum and they swing trying to get past that sticking point.
James Grage: So a good machine is a little bit easier at the bottom and progressively gets harder towards the top, towards the very peak where we want maximum resistance and we want a peak contraction. So that is another benefit of using machines over free weights and with resistance bands you can do the same thing because we have variable resistance with bands and so we can create that same kind of increasing or progressing resistance as we go through a range of motion.
But as I’m saying this, I’m thinking about how people have always criticized machines when comparing them to free weights for building muscle people saying you can’t build the same kind of muscle with free weights or sorry, with machines that you would, you could with free weights and that’s not true.
You can build the same kind of muscle with machines as free weights. I would say the biggest criticism, the one that I always agreed with in comparing the two was that in picking up free weights because you have a free range of motion.
James Grage: Now some machines have a little bit more free range of motion. And you know the machines I’m talking about. They kind of, they pivot. So let’s say you’re doing chest press – it’s not just fixed into one plane. You have a little bit of movement, and you can squeeze towards the middle a little bit.
They’re trying to give you a more free range of movement like you would have with free weights. But with free weights, because you have so much free range of movement, it’s forcing you to use some of those peripheral stabilizer muscles which you’re not using in machines. Like, think about a squat with a bar versus going over and doing a squat on a Smith machine. Why is it that you can do so much more weight on a Smith machine than you can when you’re doing a regular bar?
James Grage: That’s because, with the machine, you don’t have to worry about stabilizing. All you have to do is worry about pressing straight up in one direction. So take it another level beyond free weights. So with machines, you probably have the least amount of free range of motion.
Then you go into free weights. Now a level above that is resistance bands because first of all, you can move in any direction that you want and have resistance in any direction you want. But you’re also making all those stabilizer muscles fire because we’re not just pressing in one direction with resistance in one direction, like with weights, which is that vertical plane like we talked about. Now we’ve got it in every direction. If I’m doing shoulder press straight up, that band is trying to pull my hand forward. It’s trying to pull it back and side to side.
James Grage: So it’s making all those smaller stabilizer muscles that we call our rotator cuff. It’s making all those muscles isometrically fired to stabilize and that’s what’s making your shoulders stronger. So you know, from kinda like least the best I would put it machines and free weights and then I’d put resistance bands above that.
So look, I’ve taken a pretty neutral stance and you know, like I guess you’d say a humble stance, not try to say that bands are so much better than free weights, but you know what? I’m starting to feel that way after all this amount of time, I’m starting to feel like all the benefits outweigh any of the negative. Like what’s the negative? All right, well they don’t look as cool as, you know, picking up, you know, big huge dumbbells or you know, do massively heavy deadlifts.
James Grage: They don’t clank and rattle as steel plates do. But that’s about it. Or the fact that it’s just unfamiliar. We’re not used to it, which a lot of the people that I hear criticize it when they try it for the first time. They say, “Oh, this is so awkward”. But it’s only awkward because it’s exposing their weaknesses, which is their lack of stability.
And that’s one of the things that instead of being upset about it, you should recognize it as an opportunity to improve that. Wow. Whether I incorporate resistance fans into my existing program or whether I use resistance band by themselves, it’s an opportunity to strengthen a weakness. And so yeah, I’ve kind of taken I would say a tempered approach to it but starting to feel bolder and bolder about it, to be honest with you, the more I do it.
James Grage: So those are the biggest differences between free weights versus machines versus bands. And that doesn’t include the peripheral benefits of resistance bands.
Obviously the freedom to work out wherever you want with bands, all those other peripheral benefits. I’m just talking about the functional benefits like you know, how do they work for actually building muscle?
One other thing that I would say, and I pointed this out in other videos, we know that in order to build muscle you need the proper amount of time under tension, which in order to get the proper amount of time tension, you really need to control your rep speed. And with resistance bands, it becomes really evident when someone doesn’t.
And I’ll use biceps curls as an example. The first time I see someone use resistance bands for the first time who does not control their negatives or their eccentrics when training with free weights. I can see it immediately with bands because they’ll struggle to get the band to the top and then all of a sudden it snaps their arm back down and almost rips their arm off.
James Grage: And that’s because they’re used to doing what they do with free weights, which is they put all their effort into the concentric phase of the movement, but then they’re not controlling that isometric and certainly not controlling their negative or the eccentric.
And so with bands when you see their arms snap back, it’s a clear indicator of that. So I would say that that’s the other advantage – it really forces you to control your rep speed in all three phases or three types of contractions from your concentric isometric and eccentric.
And that is critical for building muscle because it’s all about time under tension. Getting that ideal amount of time under tension, not just per set, but you have to break it down per rep. People get so caught up in like the total set. No, focus on rep by rep. So right amount of time under tension, the right amount of technique, peak contractions, every single rep and then add all those up together for your total set.
James Grage: So that’s the comparison between the three. Now the big one and I guess for the people who are familiar with resistance span training, I see a lot of advertisements out there for other companies that are promoting a lot of different gadgets.
So handles and bars and plates and bows and all these other things that you can add to resistance bands. And so I’ve had a lot of people ask me what my opinion is. And so this isn’t about bashing anybody else. Again, this is just about giving you honest, unbiased, in my opinion, feedback. Take it for what it’s worth because of course my opinion is biased. I have an opinion. So, therefore, it is biased.
If I thought that you needed handles or bars or plates or bows in order to build muscle with bands, I would make bars and handles and plates and bowes and I would sell those because it’d be an easy add on to sell you more shit that you don’t need.
James Grage: And that’s a fact. It’s not because I can’t sell it. I mean, think about it. If I really believed in it, then I would sell it to you because it’s an opportunity to make money. I mean, let’s not beat around the bush. I enjoy what I do and I believe in it. It works for me and I believe in it enough to share it with you.
But I still have to believe in it in order to get behind it and to feel good about selling it. Otherwise, I’m just selling you a gimmick and I am not about gimmicks. And the funny thing, the irony in all that is, I think a lot of people think that what I do is a gimmick.
They think no way. There’s no way. This dude only works out with bands. He secretly works out at home. You know, using free weights or sneaks into the gym in the middle of the night or I don’t know what they think, but people don’t believe that I actually use resistance bands exclusively and they think that I’m trying to sell them like, you know, two minute abs or the ab blaster or some sort of gimmick that you would see on an infomercial in the middle of the night.
James Grage: And the reality is I’m not. There’s nothing gimmicky about it at all. A matter of fact, just to prove my point, think about this. We make super high quality bands, but there are other bands that are similar. There are other power loop style bands out there that you can buy. You can go on Amazon, you can go wherever and you can find a similar product.
Now, I can’t vouch for their quality and trust me there is a difference in quality. It’s not just the material used, it’s also the process. These bands are made out of natural latex. So they are a natural product, which means they’re susceptible to moisture, they’re susceptible to mold, all sorts of different things. Even think about it, even a small little air pocket, a little air bubble is going to go ahead and cause weakness and then they’re going to break.
James Grage: So it is a better quality product. That’s why I stand behind it with a five-year product warranty. I mean talking about putting my money where my mouth is, that’s how much I believe in it.
But with that being said, your average person’s going to look at it and say bands are bands. So if I really want to carve out a niche for myself and try to sell something unique that the other guys aren’t selling, I would try to sell you some sort of gimmicky shit, some sort of weird handle or bar, whatever. But I don’t believe in it. I don’t believe that it’s necessary. And here two years later, I’ve proven that you don’t need it.
And that’s the one thing that I’ll say about anything, any of these other companies. I really want to see someone put their money where their mouth is in terms of stepping out of the gym, stepping away from machines and using the product exclusively for a period of time.
James Grage: You know, two years is a long time now. So do I think that you need a bar? No, you don’t. Matter of fact, do you not only not need a bar, I think that there’s a disadvantage in a lot of ways.
Same thing with the handles, like handles that hook onto the band. Well, think about what I talk about all the time with bands as far as variable resistance, one of the advantages that you have is that you can adjust your foot position, but also adjust your hand position by grabbing it in different places. Do either shorten or lengthen the band to create more or less resistance? And not only is it creating more or less resistance but the more you shorten it by grabbing lower on the band and pre-stretch it more, you also have the opportunity to take of that variable resistance out of the equation, so to speak.
James Grage: And sometimes you want to do that. Let’s say for example, we’re doing rows at the fully extended position. I like feeling a lot of tension and I want to feel it all the way through, not just at the very end. So I’m going to go ahead, grab close to my anchor point, pre-stretch that band, and then I have more of a constant level of tension all the way through.
So by being able to adjust your hand position, it gives you the option to create more or less resistance. Five different bands into a multitude of different resistance levels. But it also gives you that option of variable resistance or more of constant resistance. Now as soon as I attach a bar or a handle to it, which has hooks, I’ve taken a lot of that ability away, which is why a lot of people ask me about tube style bands versus the loop style and it’s the exact same reason.
James Grage: When I first started 11 years ago, I used the tube style bands with the carabiners — the metal carabiners, and the handles. But it was the same thing. The only way that I could really adjust the resistance was trying to do it with my foot position or with my anchor position.
I didn’t have as much flexibility. So from a functional standpoint, that’s one of the things that I don’t like about handles and bars and all that stuff. Now the other side is a practical side, which is one I’m about. Minimalism — like how can I build a physique with the least amount of equipment possible? But that also relates to portability because when I used to train with the tube style bands, the bag that came in was, you know, fairly compact is about yay big, but the thing that he liked 15 pounds and it wouldn’t compress.
James Grage: And there was no way that I was fitting that thing in my carry on bag or my backpack. Not a chance. So now with these loop style bands, they weigh less than three pounds are super small. I’ve seen women stuffed them in their purse, so they’re ultra portable.
Now you go to the extreme side of lack of portability and you’re carrying around some sort of weird plate that you stand on that shakes in a bar that’s this long where all these handles and gizmos and attachments that you don’t need. It just doesn’t make it very portable anymore.
And it kind of takes away. One of the best benefits of training with bands is the portability, the ability to take them anywhere you want and having a be light and compact. So if you want to use bars and you want to use handles, by all means, by all means.
James Grage: I’m not trying to talk you out of it. This is simply just my opinion. Why I don’t sell them, why I don’t believe in ’em. That’s why I don’t sell them is because I simply don’t believe in them. And trust me. Part of me wishes I did believe in them because then I could think of some sort of widget or gadget to go ahead and sell you guys to be able to generate more revenue because I am in business to be able to provide the content that I provide.
To be able to do the videos and do podcasts like this requires having the business to be able to subsidize that. So the two go hand in hand. And you know that’s the fun challenge I think in business, is how do you do business and make money. Cause it’s okay to have a business and make money, especially when you’re providing value.
James Grage: Providing a service that helps people, but do it in a way that you feel good about that is honest and is providing value and that it’s not gimmicky and that you’re not taking advantage of people. And so that’s why I just can’t, with good conscience sell all this extra crap cause I don’t believe in it.
It’s just a way to sell something extra. And it’s a way to try to make the product unique and make it different than just another set of bands. Me, I’d rather sell you guys bands and just good training programs and community and lifestyle and hope that you appreciate all the content that I put out.
Knowing that my intention is to help you succeed and reach your goals, not just sell you shit. So that is my breakdown of freeways versus machines versus the strength power style bands that under sun bands are versus tube-style bands versus all the accessories for bands.
James Grage: Kind of like a little side by side comparison there. You know, I’m sure we get more detailed. Maybe I’ll turn that to send to a YouTube video where I can get a little more detailed and kind of, you know, give some visuals along with it. But I think that’s it for now and I appreciate you guys tuning in as always.
You guys are the best. You rock. We’ve got the coolest community here at Undersun. We call it the Undersun Tribe and it is that. It’s a tribe. Everyone is so awesome, especially on our private group.
It’s just such a positive place and you know what? We all need that. We all need that kind of support and positivity and people encouraging each other because it’s tough to accomplish our goals. I don’t give a shit who you are. It’s tough. Like it’s tough for me.
James Grage: There are times I’m tired and I’m worn out. And I don’t feel that motivated, and I don’t feel that inspired, and I’m just struggling to get through it like the rest of us.
And so to be able to have that kind of community and see that kind of support and caring for one another is awesome. I mean, that really reinvigorates me and that reminds me of why I do this in the first place. And it’s that, that’s rewarding to me. Like talk to someone who does a lot of charity. Like they, you know, they do soup kitchens, they give up food to the homeless. Ask them why they do it. Like what drives them to do it and they’re going to ultimately tell you that it’s somewhat selfish. They do it because it feels good. It freaking feels good. That’s why there’s probably nothing else that’s gonna make you feel that way.
James Grage: People are all about getting, but I’m a big believer that it’s about giving one of the best books that I ever read that’s really about business, but it is about business. It’s called the Go-Giver. Now you think of someone who’s got a lot of hustle, who’s out there trying to make shit happen. You’re like, yeah, that person’s a go-getter.
But the idea behind this book as a gift, or as someone who’s taking, who’s always about receiving a go-giver, is someone who’s got the same kind of hustle.
But it’s all about giving, giving more than you expect in return. And so that is my philosophy. So I would rather do something that I feel good about, something I’m passionate about. Try to give as much information as possible, is as objective as I can, and try to help people succeed and help them reach their goals because it’s rewarding to me. It feels good. So it’s still selfish, but that’s it for now. I appreciate you guys again. Everyone here rocks.