T Nation

Bands & Chains (no whips, however)

Well, I finally broke down and ordered some bands after the conversation in Groove’s Westside thread. My question is: Who’s got 'em, and what sort of strength gains did you notice with their implementation. Having reread Tate’s accomidating resistance article, let’s just say I’m more than a little pumped. Bands & chains resulted in significant, rapid strength gains for those elite lifters–I’ll be curious to see what they can do for me.

When I started using bands my bench jumped from 400 to 460 and my squat from 500 to around 600 in about 3 months. A bit of advice though, make sure to go easy with the bands they are very hard on your joints. Cycle them in and out, like 2 weeks on 2 off.

You have to stick with them for a while, but they work it took me about 4 weeks before I really noticed any carry-over from box squatting with bands to my free squat but now I’m getting ready for the Mid-west Squat Championships and I just started squatting with old wraps, belt and a loose suit and I am smoking weghts that I was struggling with in October when I was 10 lbs heavier and wearing a tight suit. I do a dynamic box squat with 2 sets of chain per side and one green band per side starting with approx 40% bar weight and waving up to 50% bar weight over 4 weeks.

I have only been using bands for about 8 weeks. As Nick Kelly said, bands can be pretty tough on the joints, especially the shoulders and elbows. For this reason, I would only do a 2-4 week bench cycle then switch to chains or bar weight only for another 2-4 weeks. Squatting with bands wasn’t as tough on my hips and knees as benching but they made my legs pretty damn sore. The hard part with band training is the set-up. Make sure you have tension in the bottom position. Also, check to see if both sides are choked equally and offer the same tension. Overall, in 8 weeks my bench went up 25lbs. and my squat went up 50lbs.

I don;t really understand how chains benefit your bench or squat. I don;t get the concept of it even though I read the articles on it. For some reason my brain can;t visualize why it would help. Maybe someone can give me a hand with this.
:slight_smile: groove

Well for me my lockout in the bench has always been my weak point. Now after using the bands if i can get it moving off of my chest i can make the lift. It changes the strength curve. Now when i go to straight weight i feel like my arms are going to rip off when i get to the top. it makes a huge difference. another thing i noticed is the fact that all weights feel light at the top since using the bands. No more have i took a weight off of the rack and said damn that shits heavy.

Groove, it’s pretty easy to understand:

The chains are 5 feet long and weight around 40-50lbs each. They are attached to the bar. So because of gravity the other end of the chain is obviously going down on the ground. So far so good? Well, as you lower the bar down there will be more and more chain hitting the ground. In the lower portion of a bench press half the chains are on the ground. That’s 20-25lbs per chain for a total of 40-50lbs that’s on the ground. Since it’s on the ground, it doesn’t add any weight to the bar. Now, as you lift the bar more and more chain get lifted from the ground, increasing the weight that has to be lifted. At the end of the movement there is virtually no chains on the ground, so you have the full weight of the chains acting on the bar. That’s a total of 80-100lbs instead of the 40-50lbs that you have when half the chains are on the ground.

So if you have 300lbs on the bar, plus 100lbs of chains that’s a total of 400lbs at the lockout position, and this total goes down as you lower the bar, until it’s only 350lbs in the lowest portion of the bench press.

So what the chains do is decrease the amount of weight to be lifted at the beginning of the movement, but increase it as you lift it.

Thanks christian, thats kinda what I thought was happening but for some reason my brain just didn;t grasp it. Your explaination made it pretty clear for me though. Thanks. Another thing is the pictures from the articles don’t really show very well how the chains are attached. Do you have an good pictures or a good description of how this is done?

Ok, I just want to say that i have trained with chains and loved them. Now, I hope i don’t get jumped all over for passing along a new study and increasing the conversation on this topic.
ready, set, attack:

Adding chains and elastic bands to weights does not increase effectiveness of
squat exercises

Researchers from Marquette University have determined that using chains and
elastic bands is no more beneficial than traditional barbell training for the
squat exercise. Theoretically, augmenting either chains or bands to the barbell
will increase the loading during the ascent phase. In sum, the load increases as
the mechanical advantage increases. But no research has evaluated the purported
advantages of these training claims. The purpose of this study was to assess
motor unit activation, rate of force development, and peak force development of
these variations of the squat.

Researchers examined EMG data for the quadriceps and hamstring muscle groups, as
well as mean and peak vertical ground reaction forces, for three conditions of
the back squat. The squat conditions were 1) barbell and plates, 2) the barbell
with plates and weighted chains, and 3) the barbell with elastic bands. The band
and chain conditions were adjusted to equal the barbell condition. Eleven
Division I athletes familiar with the squat techniques participated in the

After statistical analysis there were no differences found between any of the
groups in ground reaction forces or EMG activity. This lack of difference throws
doubt on the usefulness of performing squats combining barbell and weight plates
with chain and elastic resistance.

Ebben W, Jensen R. Electromyographic and Kinetic Analysis of Traditional, Chain,
and Elastic Band Squats. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2002,
16(4), 547 - 550. (12/10/02)

This is off of Dave Tate’s Question and Answer Forum-------(this is the poster’s question)-When I got home today-waiting in my mailbox was the November issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that I get just for being a member of the holy NSCA. Before I tossed it into my pile of shit I will never get around to reading, I happened to flip to the index and check out what they were researching in this issue. What did I come upon?? An article title: “Electromyographic and Kinetic analysis of traditional, chain, and elastic band squats”. My jaw dropped. I almost literally shit my pants. I thought to myself-alright, this is finally going to get some publicity by the almighty NSCA and get the fucking credit it diserves. I turned to the page and began reading. They mentioned Louie-okay, I was panting at this time! The NSCA printed the name Simmons in their bible. Read on. The shit starts to get real fucking deep. First off, no mention of what kind of bands were used-I am assuming cunt therapy bands cuase that is all they talk about. Second-no idea how much chain weight was used. Third-no idea how bands were attached. They used 5 rep sets to test-it was all fucked up. I got pissed the more I read. The conclusion-bands and chains dont work! How about them apples?? Fucked in the ass again by the powers that be. Now, it is bad enough out there in the world of strength training-now all the smack offs that read this shit and believe it are going to have this “scientific evidence” that Louie’s methods don’t work. Oh man, I can’t wait to get the calls from the local high school coaches and ATs who fucking know everything about training. Damn-this chaps my ass!

Rich Walker

(this is Dave’s response)
Okay Rich now you have me upset as well. Not for what you think. I am upset because this was the first issue in two years that I did not drop in the trash while still wrapped. I actually had to upwrap the damn thing. Hell, it was wrapped so tight I had to pull out the sissors to cut it open. Now go back and read it again but this time real close. They said they replaced 10% of the barbell weight with either chain or band. 10%! Now if I was training my speed squats with 400 pounds and used one chain each side would it work? Or better yet one mini band on each side? Common, I can see it now. I get on this Q and A and tell everyone I used 405 today with one mini band a side and it killed me! Now here is the kicker. What percent was the barbell weight? I ask because I can bet it is off a 300 pound squat at best. Maybe next time they should try 50% of the barbell weight for their use of chains and bands. Then again they may have tried this but could not get it out of the rack!
Now the good thing is they are atleast looking into this.
BTW: If they were only using 200 to 300 pounds the tension would be 20 to 30 total band or chain at the top. What the hell did they use? My dogs chain collar?-----------(So basically the people conducting these test are fucking idiots. Ask any powerlifter who has been using bands and chains properly if they work, I bet they’ll give you a big HELL YES. Always take a look at how the study was conducted before you make up your mind, or better yet try it out yourself. pda:)

Well, I think we have effectively hijacked Ike’s thread!! Wooooooohoooooooo
Sorry Ike, you have to let me know how those bands workout for ya. Are you going to use chains too?? What did they cost you?
:slight_smile: Groove

I could really care less what this study says, the real world application of accomidating resistance speaks for itself. And yes, the people who layed out the study were fools.

No doubt I’ll be posting results on the bands when I get them, but that work won’t begin until January with the start of the school year. I haven’t got any chains yet, but I’m going to look into it when I get home. I know we have chains of our own, and there are plenty of ag. stores around town where I can get some. From there, I’d just need to fabridate a collar of some sort.