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Old 09-20-2014, 09:36 AM   #1
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Default Chains vs. Bands

Four years ago I was training to compete in both raw and equipped powerlifting, and I think my plan would have worked if it were not for some unique problems I ran into. I wrote an article at that time detailing what my plans were and how things turned out. I referred back to that article as I wanted to refresh my mind as to what I wrote about chains and bands, as I am thinking of once again incorporating them into my workouts. Re-reading the article reminded me that chains work very well for me, but bands, not so much. So I will eventually be using chains for all three powerlifts.

If anyone is interested in that article and my reasoning as to why chains are beneficial but not bands, the article is located at: http://www.fitnessforoneandall.com/p...nes/raw_eq.htm (The section on “Chains and Bands” is about two-thirds of the way down.)

Last edited by GZeolla; 09-20-2014 at 10:16 AM.
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Old 09-20-2014, 01:25 PM   #2
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Four years ago I was training to compete in both raw and equipped powerlifting, and I think my plan would have worked if it were not for some unique problems I ran into. I wrote an article at that time detailing what my plans were and how things turned out. I referred back to that article as I wanted to refresh my mind as to what I wrote about chains and bands, as I am thinking of once again incorporating them into my workouts. Re-reading the article reminded me that chains work very well for me, but bands, not so much. So I will eventually be using chains for all three powerlifts.

If anyone is interested in that article and my reasoning as to why chains are beneficial but not bands, the article is located at: http://www.fitnessforoneandall.com/p...nes/raw_eq.htm (The section on “Chains and Bands” is about two-thirds of the way down.)
Normally I would keep my comments to myself, but I cant let someone read this and think that is how it should be done. IMO you were using the band set up completely wrong, and so yes it probably didnt help much. Using a reverse band for every set and for multiple reps for several weeks makes no sense for a training cycle, especially in the off season.
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Old 09-20-2014, 03:36 PM   #3
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I actually came to somewhat similar conclusions in my own experience with bands and chains. I had fantastic carryover from chains for my raw lifting. But I've also made good use of reverse band work as well. I'm not a fan of normal bands hooked up from the bottom, but that's because I'm not much for conjugate style speed work and find that I get faster simply by trying to move every weight as fast as possible.

I will add, however, that when I use reverse bands I typically use them in conjunction with other types of accommodating resistance. I also found that just using reverse bands made the movement to unnatural, but when I combined reverse bands with chains and set up the bands so there is minimal tension at the top (and therefore minimal help with both the weight and staying in the groove), I felt like I got the best of both worlds. The weight at the top was WAY more than I could handle alone, so it gave me a massive supramaximal stimulus that made even maximal weights seem relatively light when I went raw again. This increased my confidence during my raw lifts and helped me maintain my technique. It also helped me to move faster through the eccentric because I wasn't shocked by the weight.

I Also love using bench assistance devices WITH bands, chains, or a combination of the two. The result is pure insanity and makes bench days turn into the most exhausting and intense session of the week. I've done floor or bench presses while combining a 2 ply bench daddy with reverse bands or chains and worked up to 140%+ at the top. Then I drop all the extra crap, go down to just pure bar weight, and almost always end up setting a rep PR.

I've had awesome results with supramaximal work, but I'd warm anyone against using it every session, or using only one type of accommodating resistance. I've never use reverse bands more than once every couple weeks total, although I've been known to use chains more often. The main thing is that when I use any accommodating resistance it's never for multiple sets of a pre-planned weight. Instead the goal is to simply work up to a single max set of 1, 3 or 5. Doing multiple sets with supramaximal weight is a one way ticket to injury and overtraining, especially if you're doing it multiple times per week.
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Old 09-21-2014, 02:29 AM   #4
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I love chains for the benchpress to build muscle, not used them for strength programming but to use them on repwork for the bench is great!

Tryed bands for all 3 powerlifts but found they did not do much for my bench or squat. Deadlifting vs bands is great though but something you should not do on a weekly basis.

I use bands to stretch my shoulders and pecs together with shoulder dislocations to be able to set up properly for the squat. Also for armwork on occasion.

I believe it takes alot of experience (or coaching!) to be able to tell when to use bandtension or chain resistance in a strength building cycle.
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Old 09-21-2014, 08:36 AM   #5
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Oh, to add to what I already said; I don't use any bands or chains on deadlift at all. I have pretty even deadlift strength, bottom to top, so there's no real strength curve to mess with or alter. But I generally don't like "messing" with the deadlift. I never use more than 3" of deficit or blocks and usually just pull from the floor. The only modification I use is to do TnG.
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Old 09-21-2014, 09:25 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by J_Byrd View Post
Normally I would keep my comments to myself, but I cant let someone read this and think that is how it should be done. IMO you were using the band set up completely wrong, and so yes it probably didnt help much. Using a reverse band for every set and for multiple reps for several weeks makes no sense for a training cycle, especially in the off season.
I knew I’d get some interesting responses to this one. To try to respond briefly, you say I did things “completely wrong” but don’t really say what I “should have” done. I was using the bands in the same manner as I do other “look-alike” lifts and that manner helps the actual powerlifts. And I even made good progress on the band powerlifts, but that did not transfer to the actual powerlifts, for the reasons I describe in the article. Now maybe bands are so unique that they need to be trained differently than anything else, but that simply makes little sense to me. And with now with plans of competing raw if I compete again, I think bands would make even less sense.
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Old 09-21-2014, 09:32 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Soldier View Post
I actually came to somewhat similar conclusions in my own experience with bands and chains. I had fantastic carryover from chains for my raw lifting. But I've also made good use of reverse band work as well. I'm not a fan of normal bands hooked up from the bottom, but that's because I'm not much for conjugate style speed work and find that I get faster simply by trying to move every weight as fast as possible.

I will add, however, that when I use reverse bands I typically use them in conjunction with other types of accommodating resistance. I also found that just using reverse bands made the movement to unnatural, but when I combined reverse bands with chains and set up the bands so there is minimal tension at the top (and therefore minimal help with both the weight and staying in the groove), I felt like I got the best of both worlds. The weight at the top was WAY more than I could handle alone, so it gave me a massive supramaximal stimulus that made even maximal weights seem relatively light when I went raw again. This increased my confidence during my raw lifts and helped me maintain my technique. It also helped me to move faster through the eccentric because I wasn't shocked by the weight.

I Also love using bench assistance devices WITH bands, chains, or a combination of the two. The result is pure insanity and makes bench days turn into the most exhausting and intense session of the week. I've done floor or bench presses while combining a 2 ply bench daddy with reverse bands or chains and worked up to 140%+ at the top. Then I drop all the extra crap, go down to just pure bar weight, and almost always end up setting a rep PR.

I've had awesome results with supramaximal work, but I'd warm anyone against using it every session, or using only one type of accommodating resistance. I've never use reverse bands more than once every couple weeks total, although I've been known to use chains more often. The main thing is that when I use any accommodating resistance it's never for multiple sets of a pre-planned weight. Instead the goal is to simply work up to a single max set of 1, 3 or 5. Doing multiple sets with supramaximal weight is a one way ticket to injury and overtraining, especially if you're doing it multiple times per week.
Good to hear you somewhat agree with me as to chains being beneficial. I never tried combining chains and bands, as that seemed like it would be too much accommodating resistance and that it would the make set up that much longer and difficult. But if it works for you, great.

As for only doing one set, I’ve never found that to be beneficial in the long-term. 2-3 sets work best for me. As for bands and chains being overly-demanding, I found that doing the powerlifts equipped to be much more demanding, that is why I am lifting raw now. But chains and bands never seemed to lead to overtraining. But I am planning on only using them every other week.

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Old 09-21-2014, 09:40 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Soldier View Post
Oh, to add to what I already said; I don't use any bands or chains on deadlift at all. I have pretty even deadlift strength, bottom to top, so there's no real strength curve to mess with or alter. But I generally don't like "messing" with the deadlift. I never use more than 3" of deficit or blocks and usually just pull from the floor. The only modification I use is to do TnG.
I’ve actually found chains to be very effective for the DL for both the bottom and top end, as they cause an overall conditioning effect for the reason I state in my article: “The chains ’destabilize’ the bar, making it harder to hold steady.” Plus it helps to set up the chains as I describe, with them stretched out from the bar. That makes the first rep very hard from the bottom, as the chains are dragged toward the bar. The link is a pic of what I mean:
http://www.fitnessforoneandall.com/p...chains/dl2.jpg
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Old 09-21-2014, 01:25 PM   #9
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Ive used bands for all three and found them to be very effective. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 09-21-2014, 04:39 PM   #10
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Good to hear you somewhat agree with me as to chains being beneficial. I never tried combining chains and bands, as that seemed like it would be too much accommodating resistance and that it would the make set up that much longer and difficult. But if it works for you, great.

As for only doing one set, I’ve never found that to be beneficial in the long-term. 2-3 sets work best for me. As for bands and chains being overly-demanding, I found that doing the powerlifts equipped to be much more demanding, that is why I am lifting raw now. But chains and bands never seemed to lead to overtraining. But I am planning on only using them every other week.
I can see how the extra setup time may put someone off, but honestly it takes me less than 5 minutes to set up my chains, just because I have lots of experience with my specific setup.

As for it being too much, well I guess that's relative. 50lb of help from reverse bands combined with 50lb of chains is essentially equal to 100lb of either alone, but without the drawbacks of having only 1 type. The chains remove the stability of the reverse bands. Also with movements like floor presses there is such a short ROM that combining types of acc. resistance doesn't make the change in resistance as dramatic as you might think.

I'm also not a fan of doing "1" set. Instead I add accommodating resistance the same way people would add their equipment...only as needed. So say I'm doing squats. It may look like this-

Start with no supportive or assisting equipment-
45x5
135x5
225x3
275x3
Add belt-
315x3
365x2
405x2
Add chains and knee wraps-
405+50lb of chains x3
455+50x1
Add reverse bands-
455+50x2
495+50x2
545+50x1
Back off set, remove all supportive and assisting equipment except for belt-
405, attempt new rep PR

So in that workout I hit 275x3 all raw, 405x2 and 405 for a new PR with just belt, 455x1 with chains, and 545x1 with chains and reverse bands. Even though only 2 of those sets really involve me pushing myself to my limits, there's still a ton of cumulative volume thanks to progressively adding equipment as it's needed.

It's very different from just putting on the bands or chains and working up to your working weight for a preplanned number of sets. The intensity of the sets actually goes up and down as you add gear, so it's completely different from just working up to a single heavy set. Autoregulation is easy because as you go up you choose how high to take your intensity before you add the next tier of equipment. If you're feeling a little off one day then you can simply add the gear sooner and only push yourself on your last 1 or 2 sets.

But even with the fairly good autoregulation it's still easy to overtrain if you do a workout like this 4 times a week and throw in assistance work at the end. That's what I was saying before.

Good discussion!
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