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Bands and Chains Beat Conventional Exercise for Strength

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Bands and Chains Beat Conventional Exercise for Strength

by: Robbie Durand

If you are looking to take your strength gains to the next level, than consider adding some bands and chains to your workout. Bands and chain training is a form of variable resistance exercise. What separates band and chain training versus regular constant resistance exercise free weights or devices like pulley machines where the wheel is round so it gives even resistance. For example, the barbell squat, the weight of the bar stays the same throughout the lift. Variable resistance requires differing degrees of force to be applied to the target muscle to create constant resistance, compelling the muscle to work harder to meet the demands of the exercise. A previous study found that replacing some of the free weight resistance with elastic band resistance during bench press training resulted in greater increases in strength over a 13 week training period compared to bench pressing with traditional fixed resistance.

Variable resistance exercise is designed to achieve maximum muscular involvement. One of the first forms of variable resistance exercise was the creation of the Nautilus machine. The common features of variable resistance training machines are the presence of cables, pulleys, or other devices to create variability, coupled with the placement of the user in a fixed position to ensure that the user cannot recruit other muscle groups to assist in the completion of the prescribed movements.
VRT led to a significantly greater mean strength gain than the gain recorded in response to conventional weight training.


Powerlifters have been using variable resistance training with bands and chains for some time now. Variable resistance training has been shown to increase strength, power, and rate of force development of users. With variable resistance training external load changes throughout the range of motion. Variable resistance training (VRT) methods improve the rate of force development (RFD), coordination between antagonist and synergist muscles, the recruitment of motor units, and reduce the drop in force produced in the sticking region. However, the beneficial effects of long-term VRT on maximal strength both in athletes and untrained individuals have been much disputed. Researchers compared in a meta-analysis the effects of a long-term (≥ 7 weeks) VRT program using chains or elastic bands and a similar constant resistance program in both trained adults practicing different sports and untrained individuals. The published studies considered were those addressing VRT effects on the one repetition maximum (1RM). Seven studies involving 235 subjects fulfilled the selection and inclusion criteria. VRT led to a significantly greater mean strength gain than the gain recorded in response to conventional weight training. Long-term VRT training using chains or elastic bands attached to the barbell emerged as an effective evidence-based method of improving maximal strength both in athletes with different sports backgrounds and untrained subjects. So based on this meta-analysis of studies, if you are looking to increase your bench press or squat, be sure to incorporate band and chain training into your regimen.

Soria-Gila MA, Chirosa IJ, Bautista IJ, Chirosa LJ, Salvador B. EFFECTS OF

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