Training Abroad: My Favorite Upper-Body Compound Movements

by Jordan Syatt August 14, 2012

Good morning!!!

In my previous article, Training Abroad: My Favorite Lower-Body Compound Movements, I promised to write another piece regarding my favorite Upper-Body Compound movements.

Well, here it is. Below I’ve provided videos and written notes discussing 7 of my favorite upper-body band-resisted movements to use while training abroad.

Enjoy, and as always, if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please leave them in the comments section at the end.

Never Minimal. Never Maximal. Always Optimal.



Band Resisted Push Up

Personal Notes

Pros: Generally speaking I am a huge fan of Push Ups and their numerous variations. They’re incredibly versatile, easy to progress, and offer a wide variety of benefits including a safe & effective closed-chain movement (which is great for shoulder health), increased core stability, and activation of the serratus anterior. Introducing the band adds more variety and is notably an effective way to improve the lockout portion of the Bench Press.

Cons: The only Cons I could think of for this specific movement are a) the band can be a little bit uncomfortable around your wrists and b) sometimes the band might “slip” and pop over your head. Neither one are deal breakers but if you have pre-existing wrist issues it could definitely effect how strong of a band you can use.


Band Resisted Dip

Personal Notes

Pros: Dips are another one of my favorite movements regardless of whether they’re band-resisted or not. Similar to Push Ups, the band adds more possibilities for variation and is very good for improving lockout strength in the Bench Press.

Cons: In my eyes, the two major Cons of this movement are a) there wont always be a perfect dip station so you may have to get creative and compromise (see video above) and b) some people don’t like dips because of pre-existing injuries/discomfort. The most common issue I hear regarding dips is that some people experience a tightness/pain in their chest. If this happens to you then stop doing Dips.


Band Resisted Unilateral Overhead Press

Personal Notes

Pros: First and foremost, I’ve found this move to be great at promoting anterior and lateral core stability. Second, performed correctly it can effectively train scapular stability. And third, it’s a quick and easy way to teach total body tension.

Cons: It can get somewhat difficult to find the “right” amount of tension to use with each band. More than other band-resisted movements, this one can require a bit more “futzing” around until you get the band in the proper positioning.


Band Resisted Row

Personal Notes

Pros: Finding horizontal rowing movements to perform without equipment can be extremely difficult so the Band Resisted Row is an absolute savior. There are an endless number of possible variations and adjusting the band tension is extraordinarily easy. Plain and simple, it’s a fantastic movement to have in your repertoire, especially when training abroad

Cons: As the band tension increases it becomes significantly more difficult to hold onto the band. That being said, by wrapping the band around your wrist you can simultaneously increase the tension while eliminating any/all grip related problems.


Band Assisted Chin Up

Personal Notes

Pros: Chin Ups are one of my all-time favorite strength training movements. As long as there’s something to hang from they can be performed pretty much anywhere, they’re great at promoting shoulder stability, thoroughly activate the lower trapezius, and are bound to build some impressive lats. By reducing the overall resistance, this movement allows individuals, who otherwise may not be able to properly execute a Chin Up, to achieve their benefits in full.

Cons: In my eyes this movement has no flaws. I’m in love with it.


Band Resisted Chin Up

Personal Notes

Pros: For a brief overview of why I love Chin Ups, read above. Other than that, this movement is an incredible option for stronger individuals who would benefit from added resistance in any/all Chin Up variations.

Cons: None come to mind – Chin Ups are amazing. Do them!


Band Resisted Half-Kneeling Face Pull

Personal Notes

Pros: The Face Pull is, in general, a great movement. Performed correctly, it can effectively develop the external rotators of the shoulder cuff as well as the low/mid traps. In all honesty, the Face Pull is one of my favorite and most commonly used accessory exercises. I love performing it with the band resistance because it adds a great deal of tension at the end-range of motion (where most people tend to slack off) and really forces you to lead with the scaps. Specific to this movement, the half kneeling portion makes it even better as it drives hip extension, glute activation, and dorsiflexion.

Cons: The major Con here is that there isn’t always a place to set this up, especially in many hotel rooms. Additionally, the face pull can be a difficult movement to begin with and is too often performed incorrectly. Nevertheless, this is something I will incorporate into my training regardless of whether I have access to other equipment or not.

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