Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chains and Bands

OK, lets talk about Accommodating Resistance. Louis Simmons of Westside Barbell brought the use of bands and chains to the forefront of the powerlifting world in his gym and the results speak for themselves.

Accommodating Resistance is achieved by adding heavy resistance bands and/or chains to a weighted barbell during strength training. Empirical evidence suggests that the use of bands and chains with lifts such as the squat, bench, and deadlift build tremendous explosiveness in athletes. As an example, Louis Simmons often has football players come train in his gym and over the course of 8 weeks of training, without having the athlete run a single step, the athlete's 40-yard dash time improves, often dramatically. Another example would be Joe DeFranco's comment that "deadlifting with chains is tremendous for improving your vertical jump and first-step quickness."

So how do we use them for our purposes. During the strength portion of the CFBF WOD, you will almost always see a prescription for some form of accommodating resistance, whether it be Box Squat with Bands, Incline Bench Press with Chains, etc...

Instead of explaining things out, I'll let Dave Tate guide us through a few things.

OK, so you understand why we do it, and how to set everything up, but you're still not sure where to find the proper equipment. As with anything in life, there are many good choices, so I will simply lay out the path that I took.

Go to Rogue Fitness and buy some Iron Woody resistance bands. Most people will need a pair of purples (mini), blues (small), and greens (medium). Unless you squat over 500 lbs, you won't need anything bigger.

I simply went down to a local industrial hardware store (Home Depot doesn't carry anything larger than 3/8" chain) and bought everything that I needed:

- (4) 5 ft. lengths of 1/4" chain
- (4) 5 ft. lengths of 5/8" chain
- (4) 5/16" spring snaps
- (4) 1" spring snaps

Total was around $300. Not exactly cheap, but considering the longevity of chains, I definitely consider it a positive cost-to-benefit ratio. If you're in the continental US, you could also buy sets of chain from EliteFTS, I think the total works out to be around the same.

Here are a few pictures of how I set the chains up for squatting and benching.

OK, so now that we have the basics down, let's talk about tailoring Accommodating Resistance to an individual athlete. Weights listed are for an athlete's 1 Rep Max for the core lift.

250-315 lbs - Use the Blue Bands or 1 set of Chains (40 lbs).
315-405 lbs - Use the Green Bands or 2 sets of Chains (80 lbs).
405+ lbs - Use Purple Bands around the plates and Blue or Green Bands around the sleeve; or 3 sets of Chains (120 lbs).

Bench Press:
185-225 lbs - Use the Purple Bands or 1 set of Chains.
225-300 lbs - Use the Blue Bands or 2 sets of Chains.
300+ lbs - Use the Green Bands or 3 sets of Chains.

315-405 lbs - Use 1 set of Chains
405-495 lbs - Use 2 sets of Chains
495+ lbs - Use 3 sets of Chains

NOTE: If your numbers are less than what is outlined above (for males), then you are better off simply doing sets across 3x5 for the given core lift (i.e., squat, bench, or dead) and utilizing linear progression until you reach the appropriate strength levels and proficiency in the core lifts.


zorg said...

Interesting post - thanks for the thoughts.

You said
"NOTE: If your numbers are less than what is outlined above (for males), then you are better off simply doing sets across 3x5 for the given core lift"

I maybe a bit slow - am I supposed to do 3x5 instead of, or in addition to anything you prescribe?

CFBF said...

You got it. If your numbers are below the listed minimums, then 3x5 will give you more volume to become more familiar with the movement and to really push your novice linear gains.

Garrote said...

So they rung my purchase up wrong and sold me all the chains and snaps for $197 and some change. This day is turning out to be a good one.