Bands vs. Chains
First off, a disclaimer (almost everything I do requires one): DO NOT USE BANDS OR CHAINS IF YOUR TECHNIQUE SUCKS!
People are always asking me what the difference is between using bands vs. chains. I always say the difference is one is a band and the other is a chain. That is not the answer they are looking for, so I will try and explain.
Why use them? First I will briefly explain the “strength curve.”' All of us are stronger at the top portion of our lifts. This is why you will see string beans in the gym 1/4 squatting 315 for reps and then telling you about it. So that same string bean may only be able to full-squat 225 (hip crease below knees). What does this mean? Well first off vegetables won’t make you strong, but in order to get this vegetable stronger we can add some resistance to the lift. We know he can full-squat 225, the problem is when he gets to the top portion of the lift he is not working hard at finishing. So his muscles (small as they may be) are actually training to decelerate at the top.
So let’s drop the bar weight for this guy down to 185 and add 40lbs of chain on each side. Now he will have around 200lbs in the hole (which we know he can handle) and will be locking out 265lbs. His muscles will be learning to accelerate thought the lift. This is accommodating resistance. Not bad!
Chains. This is where people should start when adding accommodating resistance. Chains come in all shapes and sizes. The ones we have here at TPS are from Elite FTS. Each chain weighs in at 20lbs. It is very important that when loading chains onto the bar you have a link or two of the chain touching the floor when the lift is in the lock out position (at the top of the lift). Also, the chains should be mostly deloaded onto the floor at the bottom portion of the lift. In order to do this you will have to hang the chain from a smaller loop of chain or use the nylon daisy chains along with the chain collars. Chains, when loaded, correctly will increase the bar weight as the lifter performs the concentric portion of the lift (the raising of the bar).
Chains can also be loaded in many ways. For a Westside-style Dynamic Effort day, you will want 25% of your 1RM of chain on the bar at the top. So if your max press is 315lbs, your speed work for week 1 would be with 155 bar weight and 1 chain per side (40lbs chain total) for 9 sets of 3 varied grips.
Bands. There are various band tensions one can use. For a typical Westside Style Dynamic Effort day (Speed Strength), you would want to have 25% of your 1RM as band tension at the top of the lift. Your bar weight would wave between 50% for week 1, 55% for week 2 and 60% for week three. That being said, you will need to find a band that matches this 25% as closely as possible. It does not need to be perfect. These numbers are just estimates to give you a place to start.
The bands are color-coded and the sequence goes like this (from light to heavy).
1. Red mini's (aprox. 40lbs at top)
2. Orange or Purple (aprox. 60lbs at top)
3. Green or Grey (aprox. 80lbs at top)
4. Blue or Black (aprox. 140lbs at top)
(Band colors from Elite FTS have changed over the years)
Bands should be single-looped around band pegs then looped around the bar. Remember the taller you are or the longer your arms, the more tension the bands will provide. For more info you can read Murph’s article on band tensions.
Bands not only accommodate resistance but also over-speed the eccentric component (faster lowering) of the lift. Simply put, bands will lower the bar faster than chains and will help you build more kinetic energy in your body, which can be used for reversal strength. Bands will help build explosive strength. Beware! Bands will tax you--they should not be used for more than a three-week wave or you may risk burn out. When performing a Strength Speed Wave, band tensions can approach 80% of 1RM. This type of training should not be done by beginners and should not last longer than two weeks. Remember, if you use bands start with just the bar and the desired band tension then slowly add plate weight as you progress.
Before using any band or chain tension your technique in the lift you are applying them to should be flawless. Learn to move straight weight properly, and then add the bands or chains. If you need help with technique, come to one of our training days here at TPS. Or if you have any questions feel free to email me at:
Wishing you the best in your training,
Russ Smith CFT
Last Updated ( Monday, 27 February 2012 23:20 )