Article courtesy of DiG magazine

As a gym owner and trainer of athletes, I love pieces of equipment that take up very little space, are cheap and can be used for a variety of exercises.

Nothing fits that description better than bands. We use them every day and all day at Jackson Strength, and so can you. In fact, as a fan of beach volleyball, chances are you have seen these being used either on TV or at your local sand courts.

My goal today is to show you some ways to protect your shoulder, strengthen your back, build up core strength and even increase lateral power.

45-degree band pull-apart

Start this exercise by getting in an athletic stance with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Next, grab a light band with your hands about shoulder width apart and with both thumbs pointing up. A common mistake with this exercise is to have the thumbs going in opposite directions when pulling the band apart.

Once you’re in position, start to pull the band apart in a 45-degree angle. This angle helps to recruit the lower trap, which is a key muscle to long-term shoulder health. Most people only focus on the external rotator cuff muscles for shoulder health, so consider yourself ahead of the game if you add this to your repertoire.

Pull the band apart until the top arm is almost locked out. Once the arm is almost locked out, control the band back to the same position you started in. that is one rep. Do 15-20 reps either during your workout, before your workout or before you play. Not only is this a good strengthening exercise, it’s also a good warm-up exercise.

Half-kneeling overhead cable pallof

The name of this exercise is a mouthful, but all you really need to know is that it safeguards your back and improves rotational power – all while strengthening your anterior and rotary core muscles.

Start by attaching a band to a volleyball post or have a partner hold it. Get into a half-kneeling position at a 90-degree angle from the post or your partner with the front knee up about five to six feet away. The distance will vary based on your strength levels and the amount of resistance in your bands. Hold the band straight in front of you and slowly pull it into your belly button. Then, push it back out until your arms are almost locked out.

As with your band pull-aparts, you’ll want to make sure your anterior core is strong and that you’re keeping your ribs down.

Do eight to twelves slow reps then switch to the other side by turning around and facing the opposite direction. To make this harder, either get a stronger band or move away from the band’s anchor point.

The beauty of bands is that not only are they great for injury prevention, they also can be used a ton of ways to develop power and quickness. Here’s one way:

Lateral band jump

I really love this one because it simulates making a good defensive move and can even help blockers with their footwork to get in front of the hitter. Start by getting into a nice defensive position (feet slightly wider than shoulder width, knees slightly bent). Use the same band anchor point as you did for the previous exercise, but add another band.

Now simply push off the inside foot as fast and as powerful as possible, trying to cover as much distance as you can. Imagine making a defensive play on a hard-driven ball and getting in front of it.

Try to not overthink the form on this one. The only thing I really want you to concentrate on is that your knee doesn’t dip in as you’re pushing off that inside leg. In the strength and conditioning world, we call this “Valgus stress” and it is no Bueno for knee health or flexibility, so be patient. Do this for five reps on each side before you play.

Do this exercise at low reps. The goal with a power exercises is to be as fast as possible. If you’re doing too many reps, you’ll get fatigued, loser power and the exercise will be pointless.

Concluding message

There aren’t any products on the market like these bands that are so versatile for six bucks. They can be found easily on Amazon or

Curtis Jackson is the head strength and performance coach for Jackson Strength in Solana Beach, California, where he specializes in vertical jump, speed and high-performance nutrition.