How To Increase Strength Using Crossover Symmetry

How To Increase Strength Using Crossover Symmetry

Think back to day one in the gym.  Your new membership card is so fresh the laminate is still warm to the touch. 

You stroll to the back, where a long rack of dumbbells is neatly ordered, except somebody put the 15s where the 40s are supposed to go. 

You then look at the fitness magazine with the 8-week exercise plan that promises to make major life changes, and you start with movement one.

Then each week after you notice, the movement gets a bit easier, so you grab the next set of heavier dumbbells.  

Without knowing any better, you are following an essential rule of weightlifting called linear progression.  

Never mind the gal who only lifts the pink dumbbells for fear of getting bulky in this story.  The point is that even the most novice trainees realize that if they want to get stronger, they must keep increasing the stimulus to challenge their bodies to adapt.

However, what's under-appreciated is that the dumbbell size is only one part of the equation. There are many ways to add intensity and stimulate progression without changing weights.

Specifically, I want to answer the question: How do you make that jump to the next color resistance band when doing Crossover Symmetry?

First, What's the Goal?

Adding weight to the bar is a reasonable goal, but unless you're competing in a powerlifting competition, lifting the maximum amount of weight is probably not the most important thing for your fitness.

Most want to look good, feel good, and live past 100.

Thus, I would first define the intention for the exercises in your training program—and it doesn't need to be all the same.  For example, in the same session, I will have a warm-up, power/speed, maximal strength, and movements for muscle gain.

For Crossover Symmetry Activation, I've used the same athletic resistance bands since I started the program almost ten years ago.  And actually, I now often drop down to the novice resistance because it gets me closer to my goal: to feel warmed up and ready to work out.

So, if you're beating yourself up for not moving from novice to athletic or athletic to elite, remind yourself that nobody will be especially impressed by the color of the band you're using for your warmup.

Instead, I would focus on holding the end range for longer, slowing down your tempo, feeling more "relaxed" at the end range, and maybe even playing with the plyometrics included with Activation+.

These things are more aligned with the goals of Crossover Symmetry Activation—to help you move better and feel better—rather than moving up your resistance set.

Making the Jump

With the topic of goal setting covered, Crossover Symmetry is absolutely something you can use to get stronger.  But, how can one do that with our bands when there are big jumps in resistance? For reference, our heavy bands go 10, 15, 25, then 40lbs.

First off, the numbers on our bands are arbitrary and will feel different between people.  That's because resistance bands don't create tension from opposing gravity; instead, the resistance comes from the material's stretch, length, and density.

So if you're at the point where red feels easy, try moving back a bit from the attachment.  Or, move closer using heavier bands. You're essentially increasing and decreasing the "weight" by changing the stretch.

We also have a very light band that are 3lbs. You could simply use a 15lb red and 3lb green band simultaneously to add a bit more challenge.

Strength Plan

The final option for gaining strength with Crossover bands is an intuitive one: use the Strength Program.

This program is intended to be challenging. The movements aren't necessarily harder than the exercises on Activation, but it's the superset of the exercises that fatigues the muscles as you go.

Paired with little to no rest between movements, it gets spicy as you get further through the series.  Yet, another way, the stimulus to a training program is varied in ways other than the weight.

Also, my intention changes with this program as well.

Whereas with Activation, the goal is to stay smooth and focus on form, I allow my technique to bend a bit as I go through Strength.  I will also use drop sets on this series, where I start with the heavy bands and then quickly move to lighter ones as I get fatigued.

I want to emphasize that this training doesn't build maximal 1RM strength like super heavy weights, but it does provide accessory work that builds greater endurance and capacity to hit those hard training sessions without breaking.


To wrap this thing up, if you're concerned about moving to heavier bands or want to add a greater strength focus:

  • Determine your goals and the tools you need to get there.
  • Resistance is varied with bands by moving further or closer to the attachment.
  • Increase the intensity by changing the tempo, decreasing the rest between movements, and pre-fatigue the muscle with other exercises.

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